Casual Vista use on mobile PCs

Fujitsu_lenovoThere have been many accounts describing how mobile PC users have tweaked Vista to get better performance out of lower-end components and to maximize battery life.  I have done those myself on the Fujitsu P1610 with very good results.  I am in an unusual situation that sees me using multiple devices running Vista.  I have used as many as 5 Vista devices at one time and my everyday working gear has me running both the Lenovo ThinkPad x61 and the Fujitsu.  Tag teaming the two Tablets has led me to the realization that Vista doesn’t like casual usage, rather it performs better if you use just one machine all the time.  Why do I say that?

I like to switch between the two Tablets depending on what I am going to be doing that day.  The ThinkPad is the workhorse and has been my primary machine for a couple of months.  The Fujitsu is my go-to mobile warrior when I need to go lean and mean for short bursts.  I have noticed since I first started using Vista that if a device has not been used for a while that it runs pretty slowly at first.  Maybe it’s catching up on OS housekeeping under the hood, maybe it’s jealous of the other devices, I really don’t know.  I have been switching back and forth among different devices for so long now that I think I can safely state that Vista doesn’t like casual usage.

I recently tested that theory by leaving the ThinkPad in the dock and just carrying the Fuji with me.  I have been using only the Fuji for the past 3 days and the experience has been enlightening.  Prior to this whenever I would first pick up the Fuji out of the dock when it had been sitting for a while I would find Vista to be very sluggish.  Standby and Resume would take a long time and the system would be using the disk a lot, slowing everything down.  When I started my recent experiment of using just the Fuji I saw the same thing at first, sluggish performance, disk activity high, slow Standby/ Resume. It kind of surprised me because I never felt the Fuji was that slow when I was using only it as my main computer.  I watched it closely and realized that deep into the first day the little Fuji was running just as well as ever.  Standby/ resume times were snappy and the overall performance of the device was nice.  Over the next two days I never experienced sluggish performance again.

This led me to try the opposite approach and shelve the Fuji and go back to the Lenovo.  Not surprisingly at this point, I noticed the exact same phenomenon.  The ThinkPad was much slower than when I was using it predominantly, and this malaise lasted about a day.  It’s just like the Fuji in my experiment, after a few hours of doing who knows what in the background, Vista got caught up and then worked fine without hesitation or undo sweating.  This leads me to firmly believe that Vista is written to be used on a single machine which will be on most of the time.  Take it down for a day and it’s like it is catching up on all the little things it does invisibly over time. 

Has anyone else noticed this?  If so have you been able to make any deductions over the real cause or especially how to minimize this affect?  I switch machines all the time and I have to admit it is annoying until it settles down.

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