Forums

PC reliability

Started by legg January 13, 2020
On Mon, 13 Jan 2020 12:32:25 -0800, Joerg <news@analogconsultants.com>
wrote:

>On 2020-01-13 11:35, Jeff Liebermann wrote: >> On Mon, 13 Jan 2020 09:48:21 -0800, Joerg <news@analogconsultants.com> >> wrote: >> >>> IMO Windows XP was last known good. Windows 7 was a step back, ok for a >>> few years but not as good. The topper was the last update that I did >>> this weekend. It thoroughly destroyed two Windows 7 Pro 64-bit >>> installations. >> >> I've done 4 free upgrades from Windoze 7 64 bit to Windoze 10. The >> first was a bit rough and I had to start over after restoring Win 7 >> from backup (Macrium Reflect Free) and actually following the >> directions. The problem was the virus scanner and some resident >> programs needed to be removed before the upgrade would work properly. >> the other three upgrades went smoothly, but took all day complete.
>In my case it obviously didn't get into the heads of these <expression >censored> at Microsoft that there are PCs with dual-boot configuration. >They seem to have mucked with the MBR and instead of a clean rollback >Windows 7 will now goes into endless trial and shutdown loops. Meaning >it's trashed. How stupid.
True. MS doesn't really care or know anything about GRUB and will gleefully wipe out or trash GRUB without provocation. Here's how to fix the MBR (master boot record): <https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=how+to+fix+mbr+window+7> I prefer the EasyBCD method, but there are others. Since you managed to get Win 7 and Linux installed on the same drive without fumbling over the UEFI and secure boot, you probably don't need my rant on the topic. However, if you suspect you're having troubles in that area, there are guides and tutorial available: "How to Boot and Install Linux on a UEFI PC With Secure Boot" <https://www.howtogeek.com/175641/how-to-boot-and-install-linux-on-a-uefi-pc-with-secure-boot/> On the other side of the fence, we have Linux, which offers at least 15 different boot loaders for MS to trash. <https://www.ubuntupit.com/best-linux-bootloader-for-home-and-embedded-systems/> I suspect there are probably more boot managers available. I would not expect MS to test 15 or more boot managers for every mutation and update to Windoze.
>I am very glad I am nearly past that point. Still supporting some >clients who do not have EE's or who need tricky analog help. No large >projects anymore.
I'm jealous. I'm stuck with about 4 times the volume of junk in the office that I can store at home. A storage locker is possible, but is more time, trouble, and expense than I want to deal with. So, the decision is to whether to keep all the useful goodies that clutter my office, or either sell or give it all away. If I do that, it will be very difficult for me to restart the business, should I be so inclined.
>That's what I plan on doing and four out of five PCs now run Linux. >After trying many Linux flavors I settled on MX Linux though two are >still running Lubuntu.
I've been running Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop for about 2 years. Unfortunately, I don't use it enough to pass judgment on its usability. So far, no disasters, except for installing it on some incompatible hardware.
>Once the SSD, some cables and additional memory >modules arrive I am going to rig up VirtualBox and then will try to >activate the old Windows 7 licenses from each PC in the VM. The native >Windows 7 is now nuked anyhow and then I can use that space for data.
I don't know if that will work. My guess(tm) is that MS records when a given machine last connected to the internet. If the delay is sufficiently long (perhaps 1 year), the MS assumes that the machine has been recycled and will allow the activation key to work on a different machine. If less, activation will fail. Again, this is my guess(tm).
>The only devices that might might be recalcitrant inside a VM are the >Signalhound analyzer and generator. However, I just received an email >from Signalhound support that some of their customers have succesfully >run their new software (Spike) inside a VM. I believe one has to make >sure that OpenGL 2 or better is enabled via guest additions but they >said that except for occasional hangups due to the extra USB latency it >should otherwise work.
<https://signalhound.com/products/> Now that you're retired, do you really need a small portable signal generator and spectrum analyzer? I guess that PC gives you data logging, analysis, capture, and printing capabilities which are useful if you're traveling to your clients. But for use at home, you might do as well with some test equipment that has more knobs and switches.
>I won't touch Windows 10, not even with a 10ft pole, especially after >the lastest episode.
I wouldn't touch it either, except that's what my current customers are using. In order to fix their problems, I have to eat the same dog food and run the same software. -- Jeff Liebermann jeffl@cruzio.com 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
On Monday, January 13, 2020 at 12:48:26 PM UTC-5, Joerg wrote:

> IMO Windows XP was last known good. Windows 7 was a step back, ok for a > few years but not as good. The topper was the last update that I did > this weekend. It thoroughly destroyed two Windows 7 Pro 64-bit > installations.
I'd generally agree. XP and Win-7 worked the best for me, and I was never of fan of the Microsoft OS versions that came later. As for Hard Drives, I think I can honestly say (in 32+ years, easy) that I've NEVER had a HDD fail. That's a rough total of maybe 50 drives over the years, on various PC's and appliances. Average life is maybe 5 years (a guess), usually forced by advances in technology, etc... I did lose a thumb-drive in the washer/dryer however. :) It still worked, but I couldn't bring myself to trust it. I've only had one mother board fail. Some weird problem I never got to the bottom of.
On 2020-01-13 15:52, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
> On Mon, 13 Jan 2020 12:32:25 -0800, Joerg <news@analogconsultants.com> > wrote: > >> On 2020-01-13 11:35, Jeff Liebermann wrote: >>> On Mon, 13 Jan 2020 09:48:21 -0800, Joerg <news@analogconsultants.com> >>> wrote: >>> >>>> IMO Windows XP was last known good. Windows 7 was a step back, ok for a >>>> few years but not as good. The topper was the last update that I did >>>> this weekend. It thoroughly destroyed two Windows 7 Pro 64-bit >>>> installations. >>> >>> I've done 4 free upgrades from Windoze 7 64 bit to Windoze 10. The >>> first was a bit rough and I had to start over after restoring Win 7 >>> from backup (Macrium Reflect Free) and actually following the >>> directions. The problem was the virus scanner and some resident >>> programs needed to be removed before the upgrade would work properly. >>> the other three upgrades went smoothly, but took all day complete. > >> In my case it obviously didn't get into the heads of these <expression >> censored> at Microsoft that there are PCs with dual-boot configuration. >> They seem to have mucked with the MBR and instead of a clean rollback >> Windows 7 will now goes into endless trial and shutdown loops. Meaning >> it's trashed. How stupid. > > True. MS doesn't really care or know anything about GRUB and will > gleefully wipe out or trash GRUB without provocation. Here's how to > fix the MBR (master boot record): > <https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=how+to+fix+mbr+window+7> > I prefer the EasyBCD method, but there are others. >
It didn't destroy grub, it's that Windows 7 self-destructed. That is what is so stupid in the way the update routines were written, there is no way back. There should always be. Obviously a lack of design review rigor. So I blew it off the computer this afternoon.
> Since you managed to get Win 7 and Linux installed on the same drive > without fumbling over the UEFI and secure boot, you probably don't > need my rant on the topic. However, if you suspect you're having > troubles in that area, there are guides and tutorial available: > "How to Boot and Install Linux on a UEFI PC With Secure Boot" > <https://www.howtogeek.com/175641/how-to-boot-and-install-linux-on-a-uefi-pc-with-secure-boot/> > > On the other side of the fence, we have Linux, which offers at least > 15 different boot loaders for MS to trash. > <https://www.ubuntupit.com/best-linux-bootloader-for-home-and-embedded-systems/> > I suspect there are probably more boot managers available. I would > not expect MS to test 15 or more boot managers for every mutation and > update to Windoze. >
No, but I do expect them to test the case where the bootloader is not reachable by the updater and then fork appropriately in the update process. That isn't rocket science. IOW, leave out those parts and, if warranted, warn the user about it.
>> I am very glad I am nearly past that point. Still supporting some >> clients who do not have EE's or who need tricky analog help. No large >> projects anymore. > > I'm jealous. I'm stuck with about 4 times the volume of junk in the > office that I can store at home. A storage locker is possible, but is > more time, trouble, and expense than I want to deal with. So, the > decision is to whether to keep all the useful goodies that clutter my > office, or either sell or give it all away. If I do that, it will be > very difficult for me to restart the business, should I be so > inclined. >
I'd seriously look at losing some stuff and I'd never go the storage locker route because those just become eternal money pits. Just think about which device and parts you haven't used in years.
>> That's what I plan on doing and four out of five PCs now run Linux. >> After trying many Linux flavors I settled on MX Linux though two are >> still running Lubuntu. > > I've been running Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop for about 2 years. > Unfortunately, I don't use it enough to pass judgment on its > usability. So far, no disasters, except for installing it on some > incompatible hardware. >
Well, Linux ain't gold either. It often loses audio for no apparent reason, among other things. The first MX Linux install today bombed -> failure to load operating system. On the 2nd attempt it lost mouse control at the end. After a hard reset it started but sluggishly. Also has trouble with NVidia cards, many cameras, printers, scanners and so on. Then again it's free and no EULA strangleholds. Linux is somewhat like stepping back into you 80's car. All manual and every other month you've got a wrench session. To get myself trained for that a bit I bought a couple of Pogoplug devices which have zero graphics capability, 128MB of RAM and a tiny 32-bit ARM processor. I hacked one and put Arch Linux on it, 100% command line and even that is totally spartan. Midnight Commander is as far as luxury goes on these.
>> Once the SSD, some cables and additional memory >> modules arrive I am going to rig up VirtualBox and then will try to >> activate the old Windows 7 licenses from each PC in the VM. The native >> Windows 7 is now nuked anyhow and then I can use that space for data. > > I don't know if that will work. My guess(tm) is that MS records when > a given machine last connected to the internet. If the delay is > sufficiently long (perhaps 1 year), the MS assumes that the machine > has been recycled and will allow the activation key to work on a > different machine. If less, activation will fail. Again, this is my > guess(tm). >
I don't know, I'll just try. It's not that I want to skirt any licensing rules because I paid for the licenses, it just moving them from native to VM.
>> The only devices that might might be recalcitrant inside a VM are the >> Signalhound analyzer and generator. However, I just received an email >>from Signalhound support that some of their customers have succesfully >> run their new software (Spike) inside a VM. I believe one has to make >> sure that OpenGL 2 or better is enabled via guest additions but they >> said that except for occasional hangups due to the extra USB latency it >> should otherwise work. > > <https://signalhound.com/products/> > Now that you're retired, do you really need a small portable signal > generator and spectrum analyzer?
Yes. I still handle tough cases for clients, like the last 10% of an EMC case where their engineer has a hard time. The good thing is these two boxes are the sizes of 3-4 cigarette packs in a row each. Fits into carry-on luggage. If I can make that somehow work in a VM I can finally kiss Microsoft good-bye.
> ... I guess that PC gives you data > logging, analysis, capture, and printing capabilities which are useful > if you're traveling to your clients. But for use at home, you might > do as well with some test equipment that has more knobs and switches. >
I don't want any more boat anchors but try to become a minimalist.
>> I won't touch Windows 10, not even with a 10ft pole, especially after >> the lastest episode. > > I wouldn't touch it either, except that's what my current customers > are using. In order to fix their problems, I have to eat the same dog > food and run the same software. >
If some project would require me to use Windows 10 they either have to pay for a rented PC or I'd turn it down. -- Regards, Joerg http://www.analogconsultants.com/
On Mon, 13 Jan 2020 07:12:02 -0800 (PST), Whoey Louie
<trader4@optonline.net> wrote:

>On Monday, January 13, 2020 at 8:58:12 AM UTC-5, John Doe wrote: >> legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote: >> >> > Is it just an impression, or are PC's not crashing as >> > regularly as they used to? >> > >> > Looking at the machines here, it seems that this shift >> > occurred roughly around the time IDE HDDs were replaced >> > by SATA. >> > >> > With three machines, I used to expect to have a clunk HDD >> > at least once a year, if not just cloned to a larger drive. >> > >> > Haven't had a HDD fail since 2011. >> > >> > What goes? >> >> It's Windows. Crashing was radically reduced with Windows XP back in >> about 2000. Nowadays, occasional rebooting is apparently still useful, >> but the blue screen of death (BSOD) or any other system freeze almost >> never happens anymore. > >+1 > >That's how I see it, Windows has improved over time.
WinNT 3.51 was very stable (in the 1990's), no BSODs, required 2-3 reboots a year. Win2000 was quite stable as well as XP.
legg wrote:
> Is it just an impression, or are PC's not crashing as > regularly as they used to? > > Looking at the machines here, it seems that this shift > occurred roughly around the time IDE HDDs were replaced > by SATA. > > With three machines, I used to expect to have a clunk HDD > at least once a year, if not just cloned to a larger drive. > > Haven't had a HDD fail since 2011. > > What goes? > > RL >
Well, now back in the early 1980 daze of the IBM PC XT 5152, the first HD i saw was the MFM Tandon 5 Megabyte hard drive. And it ran reliably for well over ten years; still working when i replaced it with Quantum which lasted maybe 3 years then crashed. So one could say the reliability went clunk when the interface advanced from MFM to IDE.
Windows 2000 was not a retail consumer operating system, it was
never important to ordinary users. Windows XP was the big jump to
stability, it was not just another Windows OS getting "better with
every generation". 


Rick C <gnuarm.deletethisbit@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Monday, January 13, 2020 at 8:58:12 AM UTC-5, John Doe wrote: >> legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote: >> >> > Is it just an impression, or are PC's not crashing as >> > regularly as they used to? >> > >> > Looking at the machines here, it seems that this shift >> > occurred roughly around the time IDE HDDs were replaced >> > by SATA. >> > >> > With three machines, I used to expect to have a clunk HDD >> > at least once a year, if not just cloned to a larger drive. >> > >> > Haven't had a HDD fail since 2011. >> > >> > What goes? >> >> It's Windows. Crashing was radically reduced with Windows XP back in >> about 2000. Nowadays, occasional rebooting is apparently still useful, >> but the blue screen of death (BSOD) or any other system freeze almost >> never happens anymore. > > You say WinXP, but it was simply getting away from the Windows 95 heritage. Win2k was also very robust. It seems to me that Windows gets better with every generation. I'm not patting it on the back. I mean, I still continually threaten to install Linux all the time. But Windows is not the reboot every hour sort of system it used to be at all. My laptop crashes sometimes now, but that's more about the problems of using sleep mode which has never been perfected for sure. I guess I should use hibernate. >
upsidedown@downunder.com wrote: 

> Whoey Louie <trader4@optonline.net> wrote: >> John Doe wrote: >>> legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote: >>> >>> > Is it just an impression, or are PC's not crashing as >>> > regularly as they used to? >>> > >>> > Looking at the machines here, it seems that this shift >>> > occurred roughly around the time IDE HDDs were replaced >>> > by SATA. >>> > >>> > With three machines, I used to expect to have a clunk HDD >>> > at least once a year, if not just cloned to a larger drive. >>> > >>> > Haven't had a HDD fail since 2011. >>> > >>> > What goes? >>> >>> It's Windows. Crashing was radically reduced with Windows XP >>> back in about 2000. Nowadays, occasional rebooting is apparently >>> still useful, but the blue screen of death (BSOD) or any other >>> system freeze almost never happens anymore. >> >> +1 >> >> That's how I see it, Windows has improved over time.
The major difference with XP had to do with shared memory versus dedicated memory in pre-XP Windows.
> WinNT 3.51 was very stable (in the 1990's), no BSODs, required 2-3 > reboots a year. Win2000 was quite stable as well as XP.
Never used it as a retail consumer, but Windows NT's nickname was "Not Through".
On Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 4:30:58 AM UTC-5, John Doe wrote:
> Windows 2000 was not a retail consumer operating system, it was > never important to ordinary users. Windows XP was the big jump to > stability, it was not just another Windows OS getting "better with > every generation".
Not sure what you are trying to say. Windows had two paths, Windows 95, and descendants and Windows NT and descendants. Windows 95 was fatally flawed and rather than fight the beast any longer, after Windows Me, MS gave up and started selling the NT heritage on consumer computers. I never bought WinXP, I had already installed Win2k on my machines. WinXP was Win2k with some better networking interface stuff. I had to manually set up networking under Win2k but it was easy compared to manually doing that in WinXP or any of the later stuff. The "simple" interfaces in WinXP worked ok some of the times, but there were plenty of things that were crap and got improved as they progressed through Vista, 7, 8 and finally 10. My point is that the Win95 line was always going to have problems, big problems. WinNT and descendants never had most of those problems. They just needed to make the user interface more "friendly" which never really seemed to happen since everyone bitches about the new release of every version of Windows, including XP. People love it now for some reason, but when it first came out it was widely hated for any number of problems including not being able to shut it down. So what is your point exactly??? -- Rick C. + Get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging + Tesla referral code - https://ts.la/richard11209
Jeff Liebermann <jeffl@cruzio.com> wrote: 

> Joerg <news@analogconsultants.com> wrote: > >> IMO Windows XP was last known good. Windows 7 was a step back, ok >> for a few years but not as good. The topper was the last update >> that I did this weekend. It thoroughly destroyed two Windows 7 >> Pro 64-bit installations. > > I've done 4 free upgrades from Windoze 7 64 bit to Windoze 10. > The first was a bit rough and I had to start over after restoring > Win 7 from backup (Macrium Reflect Free) and actually following > the directions. The problem was the virus scanner and some > resident programs needed to be removed before the upgrade would > work properly. the other three upgrades went smoothly, but took > all day complete.
That's one great thing Macrium Reflect is for. I began frequently backing up Windows (making a clone of Windows, basically drive C) way back in Windows 95 or at the latest Windows 98. Never forget that wonderful feeling as all my Windows problems slowly disappeared over the months. An experienced user is someone who knows enough to back up their operating system. I have used and paid for many such utilities. Macrium Reflect is by far the most reliable, easiest, and longest running. It was recommended to me by "Fishface" in one of the Windows operating system groups long ago. It even easily handles the boot file problem encountered occasionally when restoring Windows. It works with Windows 10 as well as any prior version. Perhaps there could be some situation where automatic updates causes more tension, but it has not been a problem here. I still make frequent backups, especially when doing a reinstall, and continuously after that. Reinstalls are rare these days. Restoring a backup is not rare, and still extremely useful.
>> No more Microsoft here. Four PCs are on Linux now, one more to >> go. > > I've been planning my retirement for about a year. It may be > another year before I can successfully close down the office. The > plan is to run most everything on Linux and run Windoze 7 on a VM > (virtual machine).
I have known Linux as the Holy Grail of operating systems ever since I got on the Internet proper with Windows 95. It's a server operating system. Nothing wrong with that. But it's a complete waste of time for modern end users.
On 14/01/2020 00:23, mpm wrote:
> On Monday, January 13, 2020 at 12:48:26 PM UTC-5, Joerg wrote: > >> IMO Windows XP was last known good. Windows 7 was a step back, ok >> for a few years but not as good. The topper was the last update >> that I did this weekend. It thoroughly destroyed two Windows 7 Pro >> 64-bit installations. > > I'd generally agree. XP and Win-7 worked the best for me, and I was > never of fan of the Microsoft OS versions that came later. > > As for Hard Drives, I think I can honestly say (in 32+ years, easy) > that I've NEVER had a HDD fail. That's a rough total of maybe 50 > drives over the years, on various PC's and appliances. Average life > is maybe 5 years (a guess), usually forced by advances in technology, > etc...
You have been very lucky then. My own personal data suggests that over the time I have had PC's one spinning rust and one SSD has failed. The spinning rust you can get most of the important stuff back slowly but when an SSD dies it is totally stone dead Norwegian blue parrot style. I have also had three PSU failures including one where the magic smoke and some flames came out of the back - fan assisted. In my professional life I have seen quite a few HD failures. I'd estimate about 1:200 failures per year. Although there was a very nasty spike just after the Montreal protocol when the new cleaning procedure sometimes left gunk. Bad drives which would characteristically fail on the Tuesday mornings after a Bank Holiday. They were shipped back to the maker and declared no fault found so re-entering the repair inventory. The solution was to change the cleaning process again to make better use of the newly approved solvents but the interim solution was to lift one corner of a failed PC by 1cm and let go. The jolt would usually free the heads from the platter stiction and the drive would recover immediately. Shipping the failed drive back to the maker also freed the heads. It is amazing considering the very high capacity of modern drives that they are so reliable now. Some drives are more reliable than others. eg https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/175089-who-makes-the-most-reliable-hard-drives
> I did lose a thumb-drive in the washer/dryer however. :) It still > worked, but I couldn't bring myself to trust it. > > I've only had one mother board fail. Some weird problem I never got > to the bottom of.
That is usually the electrolytic capacitors somewhere near the CPU or ram. They take on rakish angles when their innards expand. I also had one portable where a defect meant the keyboard, mouse and on/off switch would cease to function after prolonged use. And one, a P3 that ran so hot on the underside that it could damage the varnish on a table. -- Regards, Martin Brown