It is a while back that I joined the dark side, but I guess the dark side is a bit more fragmented than I had initially assumed.
Years after I had decided to a) ditch the haptic enjoyment of books in favor of saving space and b) join the digital music world, I c) did what none of you regular readers probably ever expected: I switched my main PC to Windows 10.
Actually, I didn’t. Because my main PC spewed regurgitated spinach right into my face every single time I tried to get it to behave above and beyond its duty, I simply bought a new PC.
I know that this move immediately canceled the (very) few Karma points I have managed to scrounge up these past decades, but two weeks ago, I reached that point from which there simply wasn’t any viable return.
My old PC, which really wasn’t all that old – with a measly 4 years of running time to its name – was beginning to cough, groan and wheeze, especially when I threw bigger programs at it or made it do the child labor jig, running 5 to 10 programs or instances at once … for hours.
Suddenly, any attempt at music streaming went haywire, programs crashed (usually after two hours of continuous work on some file which hadn’t been saved), the (27” Samsung) display shifted the color range by a notch or two, things weren’t saved where they were supposed to be saved, the stars aligned against me … and that horned creature started raising its ugly head just beyond the edge of my desk.
At some point a while back, I simply decided to turn a sharp corner.
Before I went on a spectacular two-week visit to Lanzarote on the Canary Islands (a somewhat cynical post is almost ready), I backed up the total mess that was my old PC … and left.
Upon my return, I gave my old PC another 5-minute chance to get a grip on itself and when it showed me the digital finger once again, I decided to relegate it to some other function in my household.
Then I went shopping.
A Middle-of-the-Road Beast
What I ended up with is a (what I would call) middle-of-the-road beast that came from my favorite shop in Karlsruhe, Arlt. Most computer geeks and freaks would probably tell you that for the same amount of money, one could squeeze out a bit more power and sexiness, but because I’m not interested in gaming and doing video sampling and editing (and whatnot), I decided the new PC should have …
- an i7 processor,
- an SSD drive,
- two massive hard drive file “coffins”,
- a slew of USB connections
- …and Windows 10 Pro.
And that’s what I bought.
Intel Core i7-7700 (+ 16GB of memory), NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB (yeah, I know, but I really don’t need anything more spectacular on my work PC) and lots of harddrive space (a 500GB Samsung EVO SSD + two Western Digital Red drives, one with 4 and another one with 6 terabytes capacity). On top of that, I opted for the USB extravaganza with many USB 3 and USB 2 connections to service the many devices I tend to attach to the machine permanently or temporarily.
It took two days to get a grip on the cooling system that was roaring like a lioness in heat, but with the right settings, I finally got that constant noise (equivalent to the Honeywell Bull ventilator I keep around my office) down to a pleasant and inaudible purr.
And then …
Windows 10 Pro: Taming the Lion
Pre-installed on the new machine by the nice guys who put it all together, Windows 10 Pro actually did what it was supposed to do right from the start and worked flawlessly. Still, knowing that Microsoft had started whipping out the huge telemetry bat when they threw Windows 10 at virtually everyone on the planet, it took me nearly a week to a) figure out how they did it and b) how to tweak the myriad of settings in order to make it shut up.
Castrating a Windows 10 Pro system isn’t hard, but it involves a sh*tload of reading, tweaking, resetting and rebooting. If, like me, you have been along for the Windows ride ever since they rolled out the earliest versions, you know the settings, but finding them in every new version is the problem, especially if the company in charge has tried its best to make sure that, for the average user, those settings are hard (=impossible) to find (= they don’t want you to flip those switches).
I’ll just give you the short version:
- I made sure that the “phone home” aspect of Windows 10 Pro is turned off. For good. That might hamper some of the functions, but the ones that died a sudden death, I didn’t need in the first place. I have an Android phone that insists on doing everything for me all the time, syncing here and (secretly) doing other stuff there, but I’ll be damned if I let my desktop PC do the same.
- After a few days, although many people insist that it might stop some more intricate (intricate in this case means “age-old sh*t“) programs from working, I streamlined the folder functionality of Windows 10 Pro by moving the photos, documents, desktop and some other user folders to where I wanted them.
- I transferred a massive amount of data to 11 terabyte of internal drives but, using USB 3 external drives, that wasn’t a chore. Actually, transferring the many (mostly music) files I have went a lot faster from my external drives to the internal ones than transferring files from one (huge) internal drive to another (the Western Digital “Red” drives hiding in my new PC aren’t really all that fast, but, in my experience, more secure than others and fast enough for really everything I manage to throw at them. They can also handle a 24/7 approach to running a system).
- As always, I tweaked the desktop, installed my favorite “cosmetic” and functional apps like “Rainmeter” (so I can tell what my PC is doing at really any moment in time), set up a path for my many online programs through a hard-as-nails firewall (actually two) and tweaked the start menu, the right-click menus and just about everything else included in Windows 10.
- The last thing I did was to check every installation and backup path of every program I installed to make sure that nothing is cluttered up. In a Windows environment, it is actually pretty tough to trace which program saves stuff where. Most dump their stuff in the “Documents” folder, but many don’t. Program settings are all over the place. As things stand at the moment, I told every program to adhere to my hard drive layout.
So, this very moment, I’m sitting in front of a new PC that is quiet, does what it is supposed to do and, most importantly, shows a maximum of 25% memory usage when I have everything (40 browser tabs, two parallel Foobar conversion runs, 6 Photoshop files, a video or two, etc.) running. That’s a huge improvement when compared to every other system I have had running in the past. Let’s hope it stays that way for a while.
On With the Show
To be quite honest, it wasn’t only work that has kept me away from my site. Most of the time, I started throwing temper tantrums whenever I booted up my old PC which – despite all my efforts – had started to seriously go on my nerves. 24/7!
Mind you, the new PC I’m sitting in front this very moment was probably the most expensive piece of (PC-) equipment I have ever bought, but currently it seems as if this investment was a good one. Things just flow, boot-up time is a mere seconds and almost everything (but old Adobe programs, which suck) is just damn snappy.
So, let’s get the show on the road again.
Do drop by here and there to see if anything new is posted.
“I’m back!” [Add seriously demented Arnold Schwarzenegger intonation here].
P.S.: As regular readers probably know, I have often thought about ditching this website because I simply don’t seem to find the time to keep it running at any sort of sensible posting schedule, but, as luck would have it, these past 29 days, I received all of 52 mails asking for this or that, updating me on old posts and trying to find information re (mostly) music posts of mine from a past long gone. That’s what I started this website for and that’s why I’ll keep it running, even if my appearance here has been – and will be – more or less erratic.