Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vista, Why Are You So Slow?

I've been using 32-bit Vista Home Premium for several months now. The speed has been good for the most part but for the last week or two, I had noticed everything running quite sluggish. I didn't know what I had done different. The sluggishness even appeared while I was typing things like emails or web posts. What the heck happened to this laptop?

I began searching for culprits by going through the icons shown on the taskbar. I had installed a trial version of SnagIt several days earlier and it started automatically when booted the machine. I exited SnagIt but that didn't seem to help. The sluggishness was still there.

My laptop is an HP and as a result, it has several HP apps running as well. I had already removed or disabled several other HP apps, but HP Advisor was still running. I closed the HP Advisor, but still noticed no improvement.

Then I saw this icon that belonged to OneNote. What was it doing there? Supposedly it was ready and waiting for me to begin creating notes like for the minutes of a meeting or notes from a class I was attending. I didn't ask it to be there, so I'll just exit that program as well. Unfortunately, no exit option was available. I could hide the icon (like that was going to do a whole lot of good). I had to find where this program originated.

So I went to check what services were being started automatically. It wasn't there either. So where the heck was it? I found that it was a shortcut was called "OneNote 2007 Screen Clipper and Launcher" and it was in this folder:
C:\Users\Internet\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

I removed it and rebooted. Although that did improve the speed a bit, the laptop is still not as fast as it was previously.

I continued to search for additional culprits and felt that the indexing service of Vista was probably involved. I found several websites that discussed different Windows Vista tweaks. Here is one that discussed tweaking the indexing options of Vista.

I made this tweak and even while typing this post (I haven't restarted the laptop yet) I've already noticed a difference. There is no longer a lag between when I type something and when the characters actually appear on the screen.

So is there a bad side to not indexing? I don't know yet, but I do know that the index list hardly ever was indexing the folder or file types for which I ran searches. Now at least there is a shorter file list to browse before I can tell it to "search in non-indexed directories".

Now the indexing wasn't changed within the last two weeks, so there was still an issue. Then I remembered. One of the first things I did when I got this laptop was to uninstall Microsoft Works and install Open Office. I was really going to give Open Office a try and see if I could live without Microsoft Office. I already knew I wouldn't use Works because too many Excel commands that I use often are either different or missing. Well, I gave it a try and although the other portions of Open Office would have been sufficient, I had trouble with Excel again. I guess the "power user" in me appeared and just found problem after problem with using the Open Office replacement for Excel. For most people it worked fine, but some things I just couldn't accept.

So I finally conceded and purchased a legal copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, but I didn't install it quite yet. I figured, what the heck, I'll go ahead and use the trial version of Office on my laptop before I open the newly purchased product. If I didn't like it or if I had similar problems as I did with Microsoft Works, I would just return it unopened. Now that I look back, I see this as the time when the laptop began its descent into the land of the slugs.

In summary, can I live without Microsoft's version of Excel? Yes.
Will I use other spreadsheets in place of Microsoft's version of Excel? No.

I guess I'll just have to live with that performance hit to continue using Excel the way I want.

Maybe Vista SP1 will take care of this. Well, just in case, I'm not going to expect too much.

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