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(MSN)   Time to put away the tinfoil hats everyone. The top computer myths are finally busted   ( divider line
    More: PSA  
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29745 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Jul 2004 at 12:52 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

124 Comments     (+0 »)

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2004-07-11 10:24:24 AM  
One side argues that turning the PC on and off stresses components. The other side says it's a good thing; even the best programs and the OS can get cranky without occasional shutdowns.

Especially XP (home edition, at least). If I can get through ONE evening without having to reboot because of freezes and slowdowns, it's amazing.
2004-07-11 10:40:31 AM  
I'm running XP home on one unit, XP pro on two more, and only reboot when my AV updates mandate it. Otherwise I could go weeks, if not months, without it.
2004-07-11 10:46:23 AM  
I'm using Panther and have yet to have any problems.

What is this "freeze" and "reboot" you guys speak of?
2004-07-11 10:56:31 AM  
Darkhop, I'm running XP home edition, too & I've never had freezes or slowdowns. It's possible you have spyware or a virus.
2004-07-11 11:16:53 AM  
Darkhop: It's your computer, not XP. As St_Francis_P said, look into it.
2004-07-11 11:22:19 AM  
I've never had to reboot XP either, except when I'm updating.
2004-07-11 11:55:24 AM  
Count another user who almost never has to reboot XP.
2004-07-11 01:01:26 PM  
Wow, I consider myself fairly knowledgable about computers and I totally thought that magnets would mess things up. Oh, and sorry to get in the way of the ensuing OS flamewar.
2004-07-11 01:02:11 PM  
I am still going to wear my hat. Look at who is sponsering this article, computer sales companies. They are not to be trusted
2004-07-11 01:03:03 PM  
Going to MSN for an article about computer myths is like going to Fox news for an article about myths from the Bush administration.

I remember seeing a poster that MS put out describing the history of computing, & it didn't even mention Unix.
2004-07-11 01:04:33 PM  
2004-07-11 01:05:11 PM  
Oh, and the thing about turning off your computer without shutting it down may be bogus, but definitely pulling the plug on your running computer can hurt it. I lost power to my computer and it fried my hard drive.
2004-07-11 01:05:29 PM  
Here's another XP user who never reboots except after an upgrade. XP seems pretty bulletproof.
2004-07-11 01:08:21 PM  
As far as XP is concerned, the way to tell a novice user from an experienced one is to count the number of icons in the systray. An experienced user will not have a bunch of crap that he doesn't need, like weather bug, real player quick start, etc. etc. Every one of those is a program taking a portion of your CPU time and therefore making your computer run slower. A novice user has no clue how those icons got there and no clue how to remove them.

I'd bet money Darkhop that this is the root of your XP problems, not XP itself.
2004-07-11 01:10:55 PM  
I call bullshiat on the Saddam Hussein/PS2 rumor. everyone knows he wanted to juice up his X-Box to play some counterstrike.
2004-07-11 01:12:02 PM  
XP is teh wonderful. I pretty much do the no reboot thing and keep my machine updated using the auto-update. I shut down when I am away. Not running = no hacking. Best thing about XP is if you can read, you can use the machine for whatever you need to do. I always used NT at work and XP is way better.

Bill's alright by me. Never done me wrong, anyway.
2004-07-11 01:13:20 PM  
running a magnet over a hard drive will definetly do damage. I
kept a box of speakers next to an open machine for a few minutes and once i realized it i ran a drive check and it had a lot of bad sectors. it was an old drive but it was definetly not in that bad of shape before

/i dont know maybe a it was a fluke
2004-07-11 01:13:38 PM  
I almost never reboot my computer. I've been traveling alot lately and I'll leave up an away message and comeback a week or so later to have a bunch of messages. And I game constantly and never reboot. I think people are just paranoid.
2004-07-11 01:14:54 PM  
my systray has 108 in it..

oh wait thats the time....

/alright it was stupid

keep your systray clean kids...
2004-07-11 01:14:55 PM  
Yeah, Darkhop, if you're using XP and having to restart it all the time, it's your computer. Unlike my Windows 98, my XP has never frozen or slowed down. I love it.
2004-07-11 01:15:11 PM  
It's a pretty pathetic O.S. if having a handful of mostly idle programs in the systray can cause that kind of problems....
2004-07-11 01:18:45 PM  
I count several things in this article that are uneducated BS. The most obvious to me is the statement that static cannot damage components inside your computer during build, retrofit or upgrade. That is dangerous BS. I've seen quite a few video cards, sound cards, SCSI controllers, and other controller cards destroyed by electrostatic discharge that the installer wasn't even aware of (no spark). In this same section he claims that it's not voltage which kills, but current. That may be slightly accurate when it comes to the human body, but each insulated-gate transistor or capacitor has a breakdown voltage. High voltages puncture their dielectric. If PCWORLD had even the slightest technical knowledge they would have avoided making these two statements.
Then they go on to say that turning off Windows without shutting down doesn't harm anything. Bull. I have had to reinstall Win95, Win98, WinNT4.0, WinME and WinXP due to power outages during office and home use. The reason? Damage to the File Allocation Table or System Registry. This happens most often with FAT32 or standard FAT. I have also had to reinstall UNIX and Linux systems due to improper shutdown leading to file errors.
With proper shutdown, XP seems nearly bulletproof, except for occasional application crashes which can self-reboot.
These PCWORLD journalists obviously studied journalism harder than computer science or electronics. I would take everything they say with a grain of salt. They probably think Bonzi Buddy is a helpful search tool.
2004-07-11 01:19:41 PM  
Must be a Mac user

/Ipod sux0r
2004-07-11 01:20:11 PM  
Speaking as an IT manager:

We have about 20 Windows XP Pro machines, and we don't have many problems, but they do have to be rebooted every few weeks or so or we get bluescreens or memory problems. It could be XP or applications or drivers (I personally suspect WordPerfect 10), I don't know. I tell the staff to turn off the machines on Friday and on again Monday as a preventative.

We did have problems with the spyware that came pre-installed with the HPs, like BackWeb, but that was easy to remove once we discovered it.

We have 4 Macs running OS X (Jaguar), and those things are solid. We've had to reboot one machine with cause exactly once over the last 18 months, because a network issue hung Finder, and I suspect that if we had been patient it might have come back. Some apps crash now and again, but the OS always fine.

Our ancient Linux print/file share machine is indesctructible. It has been running for nearly a year since its last reboot, and that was only because a power outage outlasted our UPS. Its disk has been full several times, the mail server has gone nuts, the network has gone down, a runaway script exhausted all processes, and yet it comes back every time. Pentium II running RedHat 9. This thing could take a bullet and stay up.
2004-07-11 01:20:31 PM  
PS- If you live in a dry climate you have a much greater chance of damaging components with static. Most mags are edited on the coasts. Their experience may simply not be representative as an indicator of your experience when you try it.
2004-07-11 01:23:21 PM  
Terrible things happen if you turn off your PC without shutting down Windows.

They say this myth is 'false', but their test was moronic. (read the article). It's similar to their USB thing, as long as your computer isn't writing to your HDD, it's generally going to be OK. But if your computer IS writing, then it can seriously hose files. This is expecially true for mirroring and RAID-5. Linux's EXT3 and REISERFS help prevent this problem, but not winbloz.

We've advised using antistatic wrist straps, but some technicians say they're unnecessary. "I've never worn a strap, our shop's floor is carpeted, and I've never shocked out a machine," says Jake Strouckel, a computer repair tech.

Only thing I can say to this is.. don't get your computer repaired by this man. There's a reason why colocations spend $30,000+ to put in tiles that are static-resistant.
2004-07-11 01:23:23 PM  
O'Doyle rules!!!

It's been months since the last OS flame war, but I fear it will not be that great because it's Sunday.
2004-07-11 01:24:04 PM  
Ok, because I trust Farkers way more than I trust MSN...Are any of the OTHER things mentioned valid?
2004-07-11 01:25:52 PM  
The point of things like weatherbug and realplayer (shudder) in the systray are for convenience... Taking them away to keep your OS stable doesn't make you an experienced user, it means you are sacrificing features many find useful.
2004-07-11 01:26:11 PM  
"A magnet powerful enough to disturb the electrons in flash would be powerful enough to suck the iron out of your blood cells," says Frank.

Oh, Magneto, when will you learn not to suck the iron out of a prison guard's blood.
2004-07-11 01:26:17 PM  
Hard drives magnet proof??! When I was younger, my younger brother found a large magnet somewhere, put it beside the computer (486DX2), and `buggered' the hard drive (about 10MB of a 400something HDD). Made pretty patterns in defrag, though.
2004-07-11 01:26:22 PM  
Cheers, ChaoticLimbs! Let us join forces in our crusade against bad journalism in IT.
2004-07-11 01:26:38 PM  
Oh, and I like the arbitrary "bogus-O-meter" for each thing.
2004-07-11 01:30:58 PM  
The authors didn't sound like they were very knowledgeable. The whole thing sounded like it was written based on second-hand information from other people who were just guessing. I'll stick with what I've learned from real-world experience. Thank-you. XP is good.
2004-07-11 01:31:16 PM  
This article from the WSJ seems to agree with the cell-phone-on-plane myth...
2004-07-11 01:32:31 PM  
what chaoticlimbs said! another one i think is slightly skewed is "Turning off your PC daily to save power shortens its life" the worry behind this is not that the processor will wear out but the hard drive. For the hdd to stop spinning and start up every day will put more wear on the mechanics of the drive rather than just having it spinning for days
2004-07-11 01:32:31 PM  
When a Windows XP box drags to a halt trying to map a printer from a print server's queue while the printer itself is physically off (thus not responding), to the point that Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the task mangler doesn't work, there's something wrong with the OS.

The fact that the web browser installs arbitrary programs on the computer that take up resources, grab information and send it back to somewhere, or otherwise hijack the computer at an administrative level shows that security is still not a priority, and that the OS is a piece of junk.

I have no problem with commercial software that works properly. Thing is, Microsoft's software has never worked properly. Yes, I use Linux, exclusively at home, and as much at work as I can get away with, but that's the effect of working with Microsoft software so much and seeing all of the crap that happens with it.

My fileserver was up for 300 days before I took it down to move. No reboots, init level changes, or anything like that. My workstation at the office was up for about 100 days before some moron tripped the breaker for the technicians' cubicles. No malicious software installed through the web browser, no successful hack attempts, nothing.
2004-07-11 01:32:55 PM  
We've advised using antistatic wrist straps, but some technicians say they're unnecessary. "I've never worn a strap, our shop's floor is carpeted, and I've never shocked out a machine," says Jake Strouckel, a computer repair tech.

You can damage some components with a shock too low for you to feel.

This guy must run into "bad chips" a lot after he installs them. "Gee, we got another batch of bad RAM in this week." What a maroon.
2004-07-11 01:33:41 PM  
Funny that they didn't even mention "Carnivore" in the gov't reading your email bit. Haven't some foreign governments that help run it already admitted to its existence?

/upgrading to bronze hat
2004-07-11 01:35:58 PM  
TWX i cant speak for you installation but i can speak for the 150 xp machines that i maintain at work... the problems you speak of in your first i have never experienced and if you take the time to secure your workstation and network you wont see any of the other problems
2004-07-11 01:37:07 PM  
Government doesn't read your emails? I thought they even admitted to having a global system of screening every email - the tin foil hat crowd was actually right on that one.

I think the name of the project is/was echelon?
2004-07-11 01:39:13 PM  

Magnets zap your data: I doubt they are right. I've not tested it recently so I can't speak from experiance.

If you don't 'stop' a USB device before unplugging it from a PC, you'll screw things up: mostly true

Cookies track everything you do on the Internet: they are correct, but cookies can be used to do other clever things

Windows' Japanese edition uses haiku error messages: don't speak japanese, but i doubt it

Terrible things happen if you turn off your PC without shutting down Windows: they are dead wrong, bad things can happen to your computer

Opting out of spam gets you even more spam: depends on the spammer

Hackers can destroy data on your computer's hard drive: this is true

Turning off your PC daily to save power shortens its life: this is much debated, i personally leave my computer turned on all the time

The government reads everyone's e-mail: they do, google about 'echelon', it's used primarly for emails coming in and out of the country. However, it does only look for keywords. In addition, there's a locked room at a major colocation that not even the building owners have a key to, massive amounts of fiber go into this room. I'll leave the speculation to others though.

DOS is dead: I use dos on a regular basis.

Only a pricey surge protector can keep your devices safe: i wouldn't trust my computer to a cheap surge protector

If you don't periodically run your laptop batteries down to zero, you'll lose battery life: Not a battery expert, but i'd call BS on this.

If you don't use an antistatic wrist strap while tinkering with a PC, you'll ruin hardware: always ground yourself when working with your pc. Always.
2004-07-11 01:39:17 PM  
Turning off the older OSs without shutting down could definately fark them up. They have gotten better about this since 3.11.

And the static thing is definately valid. I managed a laptop repair line and witnessed a static charge jump about 6 inches from an inverter to a tech's finger. He nearly wet his pants.
2004-07-11 01:42:30 PM  
FYI, one thing that is true about the magnet vs. drive scenario is that there are pretty damn powerful magnets in hard drives. If you ever get your hands on an old hard drive that doesn't work, my advice is to take it apart and retrieve the magnet from around the base of the read/write head assembly. It'll require a bunch of unscrewing and some tugging, but the magnet just can't be beat for serious pulling power on the cheap.
2004-07-11 01:44:19 PM  
Pretty obvious the chumps who wrote this article have never had to make a living repairing computers.
2004-07-11 01:44:42 PM  
Just to help with the flame. I use XP Pro on about 100 seats at various clients. We have only basic security setup as the clients don't want to spend the money to do anything fancy. Every user has local admin rights because of stupid legacy apps that require it. The only issues we have with the computers are user-related or app specific. I think XP is a god-send. Sure it almost freezes when it tries to find a printer that is not there but it does come back after a minute of two. I can't complain.

If you don't like XP you probably don't know how to use it.
2004-07-11 01:45:31 PM  
Using a cell phone on a plane interferes with the navigation and communications systems of the aircraft.

The tinfoil hat crowd knows this. This is the Big Lie they are told when they ask why you can't use your cell phone in a plane.
2004-07-11 01:45:44 PM  
Solicitous I think the name of the project is/was echelon?
Yes, you are correct. Although, Echelon was originally supposed to be for monitoring ALL incoming and outgoing connections to the united states, not just email. This includes phone, cellphone, etc.

For the list of the supposed keywords, go to this url:

A wierd thing I noticed about the "key words" is that they are all in english. Seems mighty wierd that we'd assume anyone who is going to "attack the us" would be speaking english with their out-of-country hooligans.

In short, make up your own mind about echelon. I'd encourage anyone to do a little research on it. I'd rather be wrong (that it doesn't exist for the nefarious purposes above) then right.
2004-07-11 01:46:28 PM  
Obviously this article is part of a far larger, vastly more sinister conspiracy than cookies tracking your web surfing habits. I'm talking about direct control of the human brain's frontal lobe when you play Real Player. I'm talking about real Nigerians inflating the dollar with huge infusions of currency. I'm talking about tiny hidden cameras hidden in every monitor so the government can watch you.

/soon, my full body aluminumn foil suit will make me safe!
2004-07-11 01:48:43 PM  
TWX My fileserver was up for 300 days before I took it down to move.

If your measurment of how solid an OS is is uptime, I have a windows NT fileserver up for over 450 days, and still ticking. Ditto with a linux box.

//uses both linux and windows.
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