Do Macs suffer from "bit rot"?
Is the the case with Macs?
Supposedly, using things like Onyx (see www.titanium.free.fr/download.php -- the link looks shady, but the app is legit) every week or so help keep it in tiptop shape, but I haven't seriously tried often enough to notice.
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In my experience, PC "bit rot" (or, as I prefer, "Windows leprosy") is an extremely real -- and totally unavoidable -- phenomenon that necessitates format+reinstall (or reimaging, if you're smoove) once every 1-2 years, depending on your level of expertise and ability to keep your PC clean and in tip-top running condition. (You can go longer than a couple years, but that's when the slowness gets really bad.)
Interesting side note: many less knowledgeable end-users don't realize their computer has actually gotten slower with time -- or that a computer CAN actually get slower with time -- and opt to upgrade to a new PC. It's kind of a racket, because PCs since the mid-oughts are still plenty powerful enough for today's workaday tasks.
Now, I would agree the same computer leprosy phenomena is also true of Macs, but in my experience the curve is much, much slower. A more experienced Apple user can go 3, 4, maybe even 5 years without seeing enough slowness to warrant a reinstall. Casual users who aren't too hard on their Apple machines may never even experience Mac leprosy in any noticeable way.
Thus, since computer leprosy is really more of a "when" and not an "if," the biggest upside for end users may be that backing up, reinstalling, and/or migrating on a Mac is significantly more painless than with Windows machines due to a simple unified filesystem, lack of central registry, and very few low-level bindings between the OS / drivers / software and the physical machine on which they're presently installed. I can give a specific real world example: I had to send my primary Mac into the shop, so I simply threw its hard drive in another machine to keep working. It worked flawlessly and instantly. (See: gdgt.com/question/what-are-the-potential-issues-wh... ) I dare you to try such a thing in Windows. Double dog dare you.
So, tl;dr: "bit rot" / "computer leprosy" seems happens on almost all devices -- even to a certain degree in highly controlled, sandboxed products like the iPhone -- and sometimes you just need to clean house. But in my experience having worked with hundreds of machines, in general Apple's ecosystem seems better suited to containing inefficiency over longer periods of time.
For a good thread on Mac reinstall best practices, see also: gdgt.com/question/opinions-on-using-migration-assi...
Umm, Windows 7 has all of that & that's just a hyperbole statement IMHO. But hey, guess what, you guys are right. Stuff slows down after a while. Then you clean it back up. Is a Mac easier? Sure, because its older underpinnings allow it to be so. OSX is based on 20+ year old tech. But I guess we wont get into that, along with how 'iOS' was called originally called part of Macintosh, but then Apple PR began to spin it a different way & everybody ate it up, like they typically do.
I do agree with the rest of what you said, Ryan & I think you make some good points.
Then there were the Seagate and Hitachi drives they used in recent years which had terrible accuracy in reading platters, which they made up for by ample use of ECC... which, you guessed it... slows down performance. Over the years, I had the best luck with Fujitsu drives, and never experienced "bit rot" slow downs over time (although I have had clients who had them just die cold on them with no warning). I have had decent luck with WD Scorpios as well.
Obviously, I haven't done the science to prove my assertion, but on OS X machines where I have had solid drives, this problem does not occur and they continue running the same speed for the life of the drive. That is evidence enough for me. I'm not trying to defend Apple here, I have a lot of venom towards Apple lately over the way they have screwed customers who thought they were "paying more for better hardware (original MacBook being one of many examples)", but I have to give my honest appraisal even I would rather not take any of the blame off of Apple, their engineers, or their programmers.
I find that it's easier to just wipe the machine (no matter what OS it is) every six months or so. It gives me a chance to re-evaluate what applications are important to me. I only install the things that are important, and I leave off all the crap I accumulated over time.
As for the hard drive thing, yeah, older hard drives can eventually slow you down, especially if you fill them up. Actually, I've made my iPad particularly unstable at one point by having 400+ apps on it. An over encumbered hard drive can be just as slow as a bad one.
- start-up processes / startup services / startup programs
- apps that run "in the menu bar"
- browser plugins
- registry databases (windows)
- background processes
- anti virus software
- auto software update (aside from apple)
and those types of things.
You always have to be extremely careful when you install software that its not adding something that will contribute one of the above.
If you just install a bunch of crap on your computer willy nilly and don't care, you probably have to wipe it frequently. You probably also have other problems from time to time.
I, otoh, have not wiped this MBP since snow leopard. It boots in 39 seconds and has never been to the genius bar or talked to apple care.