General Question

josie's avatar

Why does Windows eventually get gunked up?

Asked by josie (30931points) May 6th, 2011

I am reasonably computer savvy, but only on the hardware side. I can install video and sound cards, and devices and negotiate certain nuances in the activities of software, but I really do not know how some of this stuff works.
But is seems clear to me that Windows eventually gets sort of “gunked up” like mechanical machines do.
Can anybody explain to me how it is that it happens?

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9 Answers

yankeetooter's avatar

Sometimes I wonder if it’s all the updates that get installed on there over time, not to mention the programs that we computer users install….I’m not sure, but I too have noticed this on every single computer I’ve ever had…

jaytkay's avatar

One annoyance is that every device comes with a load of crapware. Printers, scanners, cameras, etc – every manufacturer wants to load advertising onto your machine, disguised as “necessary” applications.

Picture managers are a pet peeve of mine. I don’t want one, I don’t need one. But HP and Olympus and and Epson and Canon would ALL have one on my machine if I had allowed the default installs.

HungryGuy's avatar

Over time, you install software and most of it installs components that run constantly in the background. Unfortunately, most software’s own uninstall utilities are careless in uninstalling all this bloatware. That’s the #1 leading cause of a machine gradually running slowly.

The #2 cause is your hard drive being full of movies and MP3s and porn, and not having enough room for your swap file to grow. If your swap file can’t grow, Windows slows to a crawl whenever there’s a page fault, i.e. it has to swap some running process out to bring some running process in.

Despite conventional wisdom, cleaning your registry or defragging your hard drive will have negligible benefit.

koanhead's avatar

There are many reasons, and I’m sure no one outside of Microsoft’s pool of NDA signatories knows them all.
My guess is that the “gunking” results from Windows’ lack of software packaging infrastructure. Some other OS’ (Debian for example) install software as “packages” from a central repository. Installed packages are tracked in a database by the program (apt-get in Debian) that manages them. Some packages depend on other packages (for example, a game might depend on a library that handles joysticks) and so the system knows that if you remove the package that is dependent, it can also remove the package that is depended upon provided no other package needs it.
Windows has no real infrastructure of this type. Programs can achieve some of this functionality with Registry keys but they are not required to and many don’t. Also the Registry easily becomes corrupted and is difficult to run searches against.
As a result of this, Windows programs are installed by the user and install lots of other things (.dlls, Registry keys, data files, etc) that the program needs in order to function. Then the user later decides to remove the program and things happen like:
1) The developer didn’t provide an “uninstall” script, so either the user deletes some individual files (and maybe doesn’t get them all) or uses the Windows Remove Programs which has to make guesses about what to remove (based on Registry keys? I don’t know) which guesses might be wrong.
2) The developer did provide an “uninstall” script, but it’s broken or intended to leave things behind.
In either case there will be pieces of software and files left behind on the system. Some of them will be executable and some will be set to execute at startup, taking up RAM and possible processor time.
As I say, there are probably other reasons but that is the one I thought of.

cloudvertigo's avatar

I remember reading that part of the problem is that the Windows software is developed via multiple clusters of software developers with specific instructions for what to create from a similarly ordered phantasmagoria of higher ups. Though this strategy seems to be time tested in an infantry/secrecy/battle situation I don’t suppose that it makes a patchwork quilt when it comes to deploying an operating system.

Where’s my corncob pipe? I remember when the internet wasn’t a crutch for software developers. They came out with the software and that was that! If there was a glitch in the system it was lovable and you were the kid on the street that knew how to avoid running past the dragon from Christopher Robin’s treehouse!! It was a badge of honor! Hell, I remember the sometime when the OS was even part of the bios. You kids and your GUI namby-pamby; an operating system is like a can opener; they haven’t made a better one since 1945 and the cans ain’t gettin’ better either. End of story.

plethora's avatar

I think @koanhead and @cloudvertigo have nailed it. To put it in even planer English. Microsoft makes crappy software and Windows is one of their crappiest.

After 19 years on a PC and Windows, with multiple crashes of entire systems, I had another while visiting my son and his wife. My son, at the time, ran PC networks for the Navy. His advice was to spend the money and get a Mac, which I did. Best computer decision I ever made. The OS does not get gunked up and it runs every bit as fast as it did 2.5 years ago. My computer guy, who knows PC’s and Macs says he has never known a PC that did NOT crash and he has never known a Mac TO crash.

RareDenver's avatar

@plethora Macs can and do crash. According to Steve Jobs the main reason Macs crash is Adobe Flash. I love watching Apple and Adobe squabbling.

plethora's avatar

@RareDenver Ahhhh…thank you. Perhaps that explains why Adobe Flash is not on the iPad.

RareDenver's avatar

@plethora that is the exact reason, Apple think Adobe is shit and buggy and Adobe thinks Apple is pretentious

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