Dream: Consistent System Performance

Have you ever started up a computer that had a fresh installation of the operating system and a few other applications? I know I have; it’s a great feeling. Things like opening applications, managing files, waiting for the start-up, and all of the other basic tasks on a computer happen at lightning speed…because there’s not a bunch of crap bogging the system down.

I dream of a digital experience where the norm is consistent with that first-time feeling. I don’t want my computer to suffer because of the files I have and the applications I install.

Unfortunately, there are a few key hurdles that need to be cleared before this can be a reality:

Some apps are bulky and slow by nature
I’m looking at all of you indexing services out there. I know you always need to be on, but dag nabbit, you don’t always have to be such a resource hog. It’s an application by application debate…and I’ve waffled quite a bit on email indexers in particular. I weigh the usefulness vs boginess and see where I come out whenever I contemplate an install.

Oddly enough, I think Picasa3 does a pretty good job of staying out of the way when it’s not wanted. Not to say it’s not taking up resources, but it only seems to rear its head when I’m specifically adding pictures (even though I know it must be checking to see if any new file is an image).

As a hard drive gets filled, performance slows down
Nine years in the data storage industry has given me little hope of this kind of thing changing…and running RAID in a netbook (or notebook, or tower PC for that matter) just isn’t a viable option.

I combat this issue by being frugal about what needs to live on my computer, then defragmenting my drive. Though, I must say, my defrag application needs some updating (I use the built-in Windows defrag utility…crackers!).

There’s rarely a good way to know beforehand whether an application is going to kill your performance…and whether the damage can be undone
I’m talking about more than adware…I’m talking about even fairly benign software that installs some intense files behind-the-scenes and doesn’t tell you that it’s going to suck up all of your memory and cpu cycles.

No computer seems to be safe from this
No matter how fantastic of a system I configure, it’s likely to fall prey to performance setbacks.  Whether my system cost a few grand, or was tricked out with extra RAM later on, there was almost surely going to be a greater and growing number of performance issues.

This is actually one of the reasons I bought a netbook this last time I bought a computer.  I’m eliminating the “for what i spent on this thing, it should be able to…” mentality.  The system’s small, and not meant to be a workhorse…so don’t put a bunch of crap on it!

Despite these setbacks, there is still hope out there to help drive toward consistent performance.  Lightweight applications, and utilities that help keep a system lightweight, are the key to making this dream a reality. I’ve been in search of them for years, and there’s still a general lack of good ones.

I continue my search…

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