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Windows philosophy is so different from Unix

I happened to notice this silly tip about Speed Up Disk Access by Disabling Last Access Updating in Windows XP. I left a comment noting that last access is actually a useful forensic tool in troubleshooting (see Unix and Linux Troubleshooting Tips for more on that) and I also really doubt that this "speed up" is even noticeable except perhaps when copying thousands of files.

I was really surprised to learn that Vista supposedly disables this by default.. that seems incredible to me. I actually would be very surprised if this is true - I did some scouting around Google and Microsoft and didn't find anything to confirm that, so it may not be, but the very fact that you apparently can turn this off is not a good idea. Aside from troubleshooting forensics, this is valuable information for security: a virus certainly would rather you did not know when it mucked with a file.

But that's Microsoft in general, isn't it? Saving a nanosecond of time is worth sacrificing security. I guess when you have a bloated monstrosity OS maybe you have to go looking for silly hacks like this - it's hardly the only fool hardy Windows "speed up" tip I've seen, and it won't be the last.

Of course the really silly part is that your average Windows user can't see this information anyway. The GUI views don't show the last accessed date. At a command line you can use "DIR /TA" but I bet few Windows users know that. In the GUI, you can right click on the bar that shows Name, Size and so on; you'll get a menu that lets you show more details, but "Last Accessed" is buried way under the "more" choice - again something only Windows techs would know or even suspect.

Oh well: if it really is disabled in Vista that's just another nail in its coffin. Vista is going to be an orphan OS anyway, unloved by anyone, abandoned by its parents. Stuff like this just makes it worse.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Fri Feb 8 15:26:09 2008: 3607   BigDumbDinosaur

Vista is going to be an orphan OS anyway, unloved by anyone, abandoned by its parents.

Sort of like Windows ME, only with far more bloat. At the rate Gates and company are going, the next version of Windows will require the use if a supercomputer. <Grin>

Fri Feb 8 23:15:01 2008: 3621   drag

From what that sounds like there is a similar mount option in Linux with ext3 file systems called 'noatime'. People often point at it as a slight performance upgrade, but most of the time I ignore it. The only major exception is when I am building a Linux machine that runs from a flash drive I'll disable it to avoid unnecessary writes.

From the mount man file:
Do not update inode access times on this file system (e.g, for faster access on the news spool to speed up news servers)

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