Ok seriously - from looking into it a little further, my machine had been running on the same installation of the OS for FOUR YEARS! I had files stacked upon files upon files, all over the drive. I had 62GB worth of games - many of which I haven't played in 3+ years, some of them I thought I had uninstalled(!) previously. What made me do it? Just a general feeling that it was time and a few specific things...
Stuff like trying to open "My Computer" and it sits there for ~30 seconds before it actually OPENS the window. Bizarre things like, opening a Word document, and waiting a minute before stuff appears on screen. It still played games Ok, mostly, from what I could tell... most of my gaming is done on my laptop these days so I can't say for sure.
Past experience has taught me that regular rebuilds of Windows are a GOOD thing, for system health and sanity. Imagine your operating system as say... the hull of a ship. When you plop it into the water for the first time everything is (usually) pretty tight. But then ... there are some "patches" released, for holes you didn't notice before. Then a few more patches... then a Service Pack.... maybe the odd "tool" that they "recommend" you have. Ohh and hell - why not a full blown browser overhaul! Fast forward, and you can barely see the original "hull" with all the shit plastered over it! And face it - the patch jobs are never as stable as the original...
SO with this in mind, I rolled out a fresh XP Pro install yesterday, which ended up taking most of the day. Did a complete re-format, reloaded the OS, and by last night I had all the basics back on there. Only had time to install a couple things - Office 2007 and RACE 07 (new driving game) - but files opened instantly, and the gameplay was smooth as butter... noticeable improvement!
I guess the moral of the story is... rebuild your box every now and then, if you want to keep it running in top shape. Its not terribly hard if you prep yourself before hand. A quick and dirty prep list:
- Gather CDs for everything you want to reinstall. The OS, Office, Anti-Virus, etc
- Pull all of your data together on the drive, to make sure you have all of your stuff. Then backup the data to another machine or external drive.
- Open the Device Manager, and document all of the critical hardware make/model information: video card, ethernet/network card(s), and motherboard chipset are the Big 3.
- I prefer to download the latest drivers for all my stuff - and do it BEFORE the wipe! That way you install only the freshest drivers from the start - as opposed to reloading old versions, then patching to the newest.
- Finally, before pressing "L" ... let someone you trust, or another user of your computer (Life Partner) look it over before you go. Never hurts to check twice!
There are probably some further explanations and comments I could make on those steps but I have reached my lunch-time! A Jimmy John's sub and cold medication awaits....