Thursday, 13 April 2017

Windows Update Was Sucking The Life From My Netbook

I have mentioned my ASUS Eee PC 1005P Seashell that Amazon tells me I bought more than five years ago. It has the Atom N540 processor with 1.66GHz and a maximum of 2GB of RAM, which I have. It has Windows 7, and while it was okay when I bought it, running anything on it recently has been painful. The processor is too slow even for a modern full-weight Linux distro, and I was about to abandon the thing when I ran across a review of Linux Lite, a stripped-down Ubuntu version.

Oops! The minimum screen requirement is 1024x600, while Linux Lite needs a minimum of 1024x768. I went looking for another Linux distro, and though Lubuntu might have done the trick, I've just lost that hobbyist drive to mess around with installing operating systems. Using Macs will do that: the darn thing does just work so well that I'm not tempted to go poking around in the underlying UNIX to sped it up a bit, so I'm out of a) practice with hobbyist OS tweaking, and b) don't see why I should do it because MS or Apple or Canonical or whoever should just build the frikkin' thing right in the first place. But I really don't want to give up on the Asus - I'm cheap like that.

So I started it up, called Program Manager and looked at the CPU performance. 50% when I wasn't doing anything? WTF? Looking through the processes, there was a svchost.exe hammering away when my hands were not on the keyboard. So asked Google questions like "Why is svchost taking so much CPU" and similar, and back came a number of sites, which I read, did the bit where you can show the processes a service is running - highlight the service, right-click, Show Processes. Scroll, scroll, hah! It's Windows Update isn't it? Of course it is. I set Windows Update to Manual, ignored the warnings about my bank accounts being vulnerable, re-booted and... Yea! Now running Evernote with tiny CPU usage. Which is the way I've always heard it should be.

I've also set Dropbox to manual, although it seems to start anyway at boot-up, then read its settings, see it's not wanted, and shuts down. Running, it takes around 100MB (Wha! How?) and I only have 2GB of RAM, of which, as I write, I need 715MB for Windows 7 and Evernote. I'm not doing a lot of Dropbox-y-things at the moment. When I do, I'll take the RAM hit.

So yes, my poor Asus was being choked by a virus called Windows Update. Now look, I have more respect for Microsoft that many people with Macs. But to insist that Windows Update be live all the time, and then have it hog half the CPU cycles of a 1.66GHz Atom is just bad and / or lazy engineering. I'm going to check out what it does on Win 10 next.

So now I have my Asus back. You Tube loads and plays in a snap. Windows Media Player is updating itself off my NAS as I type. And I still have spare CPU cycles. Result.

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