NYT Offers Bad Tech Advice

In one of the worst pieces of technical advice ever issued, the today recommended that PC users delete and no longer use their anti-virus software. The reason? To speed up their PCs. The newspaper has some other whopper misguided recommendations as well.

In the Gadgetwise column, there are five recommendations for speeding up a sluggish PC. Most are misguided or pointless. One, though, is outright dangerous. Here's what it says:

Uninstall your antivirus software. I'm serious. Symantec Norton 360 spent so much time trying to protect me from problems I'll never have that it dragged my Toshiba's performance to a crawl. I tried turning it off, but it kept rising from the dead. So I uninstalled it. Instant speed boost. I blame my fellow journalists for overhyping the threat of online viruses and malware. Thanks a lot, scaremongers.

No one --- absolutely no one --- should use a PC without anti-virus software; it's an invitation to disaster. The writer's problem was using a bloated security suite. There are plenty of excellent, lightweight free anti-virus tools that won't slow down your system, such as Avast or AVG.

There are other whoppers in there as well. For example, it says that you should install "Vista Premium" (the right name, of course is Vista Home Premium), and turn on Aero, because that's faster than XP. He adds that "Aero runs through your graphics card, like a video game, instead of bogging down your CPU to redraw the screen."

Vista on Aero is faster than XP? I'm a big Vista fan, but there's no doubt it's slower than XP, particularly with Aero turned on. I've also found that Vista with Aero is slower than Vista without Aero. As for the explanation of how Aero works, the less said about it, the better.

It also says that turning off User Account Control will speed up your PC. Untrue. It is true that you won't get annoying pop-ups any more. But it will have absolutely no effect on your PC's speed.

It also recommends installing Windows Live Essentials, which of course has nothing to do with speeding up a computer.

In the article's defense, the online version does acknowledge that the recommendations are controversial. Just putting that label on advice isn't good enough, though. And the print version's headline didn't imply any advice was controversial --- the headline is "How to Wring a Bit More Speed from Vista." The best newspaper in the United States shouldn't publish such inaccurate stuff.

This story, "NYT Offers Bad Tech Advice" was originally published by Computerworld.

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