I writing about a Precision T7400 for a customer of mine. It has two Intel Quad Core Xeon X5482 Processors at 3.20 GHz, and I think it has 8 GB of RAM, but maybe only 4 GB. The Intel Products web site says that this CPU has a 64-bit Instruction Set, and under Advanced Technologies, it says Intel® 64, so I figure that makes it a 64-bit Processor.
I'm writing to learn which version of Windows 7 to use; 64-bit or 32-bit. Just checking.
It has an nVidia Quatro FX3700 512MB Video Card, and has an SAS-6 160GB SATA Hard Drive, but this computer has never performed well. The computer has Windows XP Pro (32-bit) with SP3 on it now (we opted to downgrade from Vista Business), but for all of this computing power, it's horribly slow for a computer of this caliber. His Secretary has a Precision T5400 that was bought at the same time, with a single Xeon 2.0 GHz Quad Core CPU, that runs circles around his.
I recommended this Precision T7400 to him because my Ex bought one on my recommendation about 1 month earlier, with only a single Xeon Quad Core 3.20 GHZ CPU and the SAS-6 Hard Drive, and it really screamed when it was new (for about the first 6 months), so I thought that with two Xeon CPUs and the 10,000 RPM Hard Drive, it would really perform, but like I said, it's horribly slow (and so is my Ex's, by the way). His computer takes 12 minutes to boot and fully load everything from Power Off. From Power Off, it takes the SAS-6 boot-time configuration utility 3 whole minutes by itself to load before Windows ever starts to boot. 12 minutes is a long time for a computer of this caliber.
I worked on it a month ago and got it down to 6 minutes at Power On from 20, but a few days ago I tried to make it faster again, and after I got the latest BIOS, some new Drivers, some Windows Updates (including IE8) that he had ignored, and ran some Optimization programs and Registry Cleaners, it's up to 12 minutes now. Granted, there are a lot of programs installed, as it's a business computer, but this computer should be able to handle Anything!!! So I'm thinking about taking out the SAS-6 Hard Drive and putting in a regular SATA 7200 RPM Hard Drive to see if that will help the performance, and while I'm at it, I want to upgrade to Windows 7. I'm quite sure that a fresh installation of Windows will help, and Windows 7 is pretty efficient. And I'm fairly sure that replacing that SAS-6 Hard Drive will help. Any thoughts on this? I'd appreciate your input.
So back to the original question... 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7? He has many new programs, like Office 2010, and even though they're all 32-bit, I think he'll be OK with his Software Library if Windows 7 64-bit is the way to go, but we'll have to check with some of his business partners to see if the programs they supply are Windows 7 64-bit compatible. And we'll have to check with QuickBooks. Maybe Windows XP Mode will help with those programs. I'm thinking about Windows 7 Ultimate. This computer was purchased in May of 2008, so I don't think there'll be any issues with Windows 7 compatibility, and I have Driver Genius Pro, in case Dell doesn't have Windows 7 Drivers. However, if we decide to stick with Windows 7 32-bit, for compatibility with some of his business-partner-supplied programs, do you think there'll be much of a performance loss as compared to 64-bit? And if we go with Windows 7 64-bit, does Windows XP Mode work with that, and does it create any performance losses?
Just trying to cover all the bases, and finally get some performance from this machine. I'm hoping you'll address all of the questions.
Thanks in advance,
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Use the 64-bit version of Windows. 32-bit can only address 4GB of RAM (and even less - as little as 3GB - will actually be usable by Windows), so if you choose 32-bit and have 8GB of RAM, you/he will be losing half your/his RAM. Nearly all 32-bit programs will run just fine in Windows 7x64. XP Mode can help with other odds and ends that don't work (Windows 7 must be Professional or higher, and there is some initial lag on startup of XP Mode programs, and should be run on a separate disk for best performance), but I think you'll find most software will run fine in Windows 7, unless it is really old. QB 2009 and older will not work on Windows 7, but it has nothing to do with 32-bit vs. 64-bit.
12 minutes is long for a computer of any caliber. My old XPS G5 takes about a minute to power on and load everything. I have an Exchange server that takes 8-10 minutes to boot up and load everything. Your system has something wrong with it. A clean install is a good place to start, but once you start reloading everything back on it, watch for startup programs and services that are installed with the various programs. If your SAS 6 is taking that long to initialize and spin up the drive, then try removing/disabling it, as you have suggested. I have a server with the server version of the SAS 6 that takes less than 3 minutes to boot.
I have a T7400 running 7 Ultimate on a T7400, 64 bit. It has two QUAD XEON core processors (2 GHZ), 16 GBytes of ram, a SAS disk (600 GBytes 15,000 rpm), and a NVIDIA FXvideo card (512 MBytes ram). Boot time is around a minute, maybe less. I don't usually check it, also I never turn it off. Performance is a different issue, Photoshop, Maya, 3ds MAX, and most SQL server love memory, the more the better. Other applications could care less.
Generally the 64 bit version of Windows 7 would work better on such a machine especially if it has 8 GB...
For Microsoft Office you can install the 64 bit version also however some third party programs which have addins won't work properly such as Mendeley Desktop or MathType (64 bit Mathtype beta is available). Since you might use such programs stay with the 32 bit Microsoft Office (it works fine on 64 bit Windows 7).
Follow my wiki A Clean Install of Windows 7 use the 64 bit version. For best results ensure the Service Pack is included on the installation media or installed immediately after installing Windows 7. With respect to the drivers, use the Vista 64 bit drivers with Windows 7 64 bit but for the Intel Chipset get instead R302424.exe, (get the "Dell Device" in addition to this). For the video get it right from nVidea here.
XP Mode works with 7 Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise (32 bit or 64 bit). It actually works better on the 64 bit version of Windows 7 as you can adjust the settings so the virtual machine can use 3.24 GB of RAM. If you have 8 GB of RAM or 16 GB of RAM in total the virtual machine will perform much better. This you will have to download after install Windows 7 here. Alternatively you can use an XP license with VirtualBox which is slightly better than XP Mode in some aspects.
Now for programs, what security programs are you putting on these machines?
What registry cleaning, any speedupmypc programs or similar? In general registry cleaners/system optimisation programs screw up the performance of the system. They are less than worthless. CCleaner and Defraggler both free by Piriform are the best ones to use for system optimisation and haven't broke anything for me. Download links to both and variety of other free programs are in my recommended software wiki.
Thanks guys, all 3 of you. Lots of good info between you.
Natakuc4 asked what Registry Cleaning and SpeedUpMyPC programs I am using. I've been using CCleaner for years without problems. I recently found that RegZooka was rated the highest among Paid Registry Cleaners, so I started using it without issues, too. It finds a whole lot more than CCleaner. It makes a backup of the Registry before making changes, and has a Registry Defragmenter, too. I've been using it on both my own and my customer's PCs without issues. I've also used AvanQuest Fix-it Pro and iolo System Mechanic on my own PC with good results, but these are paid programs for my own computer, so I wanted something to find more system errors than CCleaner for customer's computers. I went to Cnet's Download.com and researched the available programs there.
I found the three top-rated programs in the categories of Diagnostic Software, and Maintenance & Optimization, being
#1 in Diagnostic Software - Advanced SystemCare v18.104.22.168 (Free)
#2 in Diagnostic Software was a Trial Version of a Paid Program
#3 in Diagnostic Software - Toolwiz Care v22.214.171.1240 (Free), and
#4 in Diagnostic Software - Wise Disk Cleaner v7.13 (Free),
#1 in Maintenance & Optimization - Crap Cleaner [already had this]
#2 in Maintenance & Optimization was a Trial Version of a Paid Program
#3 in Maintenance & Optimization - Wise Registry Cleaner v6.21 (Free), and
#4 in Maintenance & Optimization - WinUtilities v10.44 (Free)
I installed and ran Advanced SystemCare v126.96.36.199 on the T7400, and it messed up the SAS Drive - got a BSOD, so I rebooted into Safe Mode and uninstalled it. Then I installed Wise Disk Cleaner v7.13 and ran it without issue, but I stopped there, as it was very late.
For security programs, I use AVG 2012 Free for AntiVirus, and STOPzilla for AntiSpyware. I'm aware that avast! is higher rated, but it tends to have a Paranoid behavior that would confuse many people, so I stick with AVG on my customer's PCs. However, I do use avast! on my own. I've been using STOPzilla since 2006, when I found it. I used to get infected computers in the shop, and I'd run 10-15 different AntiMalware programs on them, hoping that what one missed, another would find. I had a routine of installing them in a particular order, and when I found STOPzilla, I would install it last, and it always found things that the others missed. So one day, I installed it first, and then ran all the others, and none of them found anything after STOPzilla had done it's thing. I did that for a while, with the same results, so that told me that STOPzilla was the best - and it still is.
I still install SpyBot Search and Destroy v1.6.2, because there are things it does that can be hard to find in other programs, like cleaning up BHOs for one, and I started using Malwarebyte's AntiMalware, because it's fairly highly rated for a free program. SpyBot and MBAM never find any real threats because AVG and STOPzilla work so well, but I still install them, mostly out of habit. Plus, many people know and trust them, so they are more comfortable seeing them installed. Most people have never heard of STOPzilla, but if you are having problems with a PC, then download and install the Free Trial, to see what you're up against. I guarantee that STOPzilla will find something! It's just a matter of how bad it is.
So that's what I use. I welcome any further comments. And any recommendations on cleaning up Windows XP Pro on the T7400 to get some performance out of it. I'm not sure that the owner is going to go for a rebuild like this, 2 years before it's necessary. I'm just getting ready for the inevitable.
Thanks in advance,
I would recommend you run some benchmarks on your system pre and post "performance and optimization" utilities (and application installations), as I have also found them to rarely make things better and occasionally make things worse.
I would avoid AVG like the plague. There are two things in common with every PC I work on where the user complains that it is slow - AVG is number one, and Vista with too little memory is number two. AVG is unbelievably bloated and intrusive. Symantec EPP in a business setting and MSE in a home environment run light and are effective and would be my personal recommendation - they stay completely out of your way an you never hear from them unless there is a problem. Run periodic scans with MalwareBytes for possible programs that slip through the cracks (or were let through the front door ).
I would strongly recommend that you benchmark your system at every step of the way - before and after every change/addition to find out what is beneficial and what is detrimental to your setup.
Additional comments, I run Symantec EPP and Microsoft defrag automatically once a week. I do not run ccCleaner nor any other speeup/performance improvement programs. I find it hard to imagine how any program can impact a SAS drive. By the way, there are NO Dell drivers on my system, most are Mircosoft drivers, with an LSI driver for the SAS controller and a NVIDIA driver for the Quardo FX1700 card. Question, are you running generic or cuystom memory?
Thanks for your comments. I've been using Windows XP so long that I've come to rely on a couple of Performance and Optimization Programs, and I'm aware that so many of them do more harm than good. I also know the value of CHKDSK and Defrag. You suggest that I Benchmark before and after. That's a suggestion that's good for Any OS. Do you have a particular Benchmark program that you'd recommend, or maybe a couple of them for different things?
You and others are saying that Symantec EPP is the way to go, and You recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. But let me ask you how often you check behind them with another AntiVirus and/or AntiSpyware program, to see how well they are doing? I might be opening myself up to criticism when I say that most McAfee, Symantec/Norton, and Microsoft AntiMalware programs are garbage, but then again, maybe you'd agree, because most people have never heard of Symantec EPP. I saw it recommended in a syminar I attended, but didn't think twice about it, because I know how well My program preferences work. I know that AVG slows down a computer, but I've found that most newer computers can handle it, and any AntiMalware program is going to slow down the computer while it's actively scanning.
But back to my question... Do you take Symantec's word on the subject, that EPP is the best (because if you read the Box, they ALL say they're the best - and how can that be?) or have you ever run another AntiMalware program behind it, to see if it's missed anything? And as far as Microsoft Security Essentials goes, I have never seen a Microsoft AntiMalware program ever actually find that much. One recent AV Review included MSE in the reports, and said it was fast at fixing what it finds, but that's mostly because it doesn't look for much at all, so it doesn't have to fix much, which confirms my belief that M$ AntiMalware don't do much. Therefore, it would seem that MSE lets a lot get by it, so how would you Know you can trust it if you never ran another AntiVirus or AntiSpyware program behind it, to see what was missed?
I'm not coming from a criticism point of view, but simply asking how you've come to trust these programs, and pointing out my experience. I regularly check the Internet for the best AntiMalware programs. Norton/Symantec and McAfee never even show up in the Top 10. When avast!, Avira, and AVG are always in the Top 3, between multiple Review Sites, I trust that. The Protection margin between them is very small. The major differences between them are performance issues. I use AVG for my customers because of it's simplicity, and I've been using avast! for myself, and those who are more computer savvy, because avast! can act rather Paranoid at times, and that would confuse most of my customers.
I've had to select an AV program for my customers to Protect them - one that they can be comfortable with, and I've just had to accept the performance losses as a necessary evil, because there's no point in installing an AV product if it doesn't have the best protection you can find. As for AntiSpyware, STOPzilla doesn't usually show up in an Internet search either, but I know from years of experience how well it works, and again, I've picked AntiMalware programs for their ability to prevent an infection. You may or may not have seen that part of my post, where I talk about how I came to trust STOPzilla. However, I'm always open to finding something better, so that's why I ask about your Symantec EPP, and how you came to trust it.
I have found Microsoft Security Essentials and Sphinx Windows Firewall Control to be adequate on all my machines. In most machines I have Malwarebytes' Antimalware, my personal ones I have the professional version. This is more than enough for my purposes. I rarely get infections when I do they are generally minor and are taken care by either Microsoft Security Essentials or Malwarebytes' AntiMalware. Plus the systems performance is running just as well 6 months later as it was when it was clean installed. This is for 18 computers... some others also had the clean install maybe 2 years ago and are still running fine. Only with an occasional odd manual scan with Malwarebytes' Antimalware and clean up with CCleaner/Defraggler.
I see no point using AVG or McAfee because they have both been garbage and lead to severe infections on my friends and university machines. Plus with McAfee (don't know if AVG is as bad), I actually want to use the computer, McAfee delays everything. I suspect if you are putting everything on your machines you will get severe performance deterioration as in the case of the Precision T7400.