What is Windows Rot & how to arrest it!

If you are a Windows user, you know this ! As time passes by your once snappy Windows starts becoming less responsive. The problem is that its a process that just seems to occur over a period of time…without any warning! Over time, the performance gradually starts degrading! Usually the machine just starts freezing more often or giving the Blue Screens frequently. The only cause for this is a long period of (heavy) use. And the most to be affected after the rot sets in, is the Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer!


Windows Rot

Windows Rot is defined in the Urban Dictionary as the process by which a Windows machine becomes progressively slower the longer you use it and the more software you install on it. This condition is generally ascribed to a deterioration of the Windows Registry, caused by applications that use it improperly and don’t clean up after themselves.

You may have experienced Windows Rot in Windows XP, and may have noticed that its intensity has been reducing with each new version of Windows – and the Rot is less pronounced. This is because Microsoft has now virtualized some files & the registry. File & Registry Virtualization basically means that, applications are prevented from writing to System Folders in Windows file system and ALSO to the ‘machine wide keys’ in the registry.

Call it the natural ageing of Windows, if you wish, but then there are a few steps or precautions one can take to prolong this process. Here are some :

1) Avoid installing and uninstalling too many software. The more software you install/uninstall, the more sluggish you can expect your machine to get gradually. Many program leave their traces in the registry, even after they are uninstalled. At times even program folders or components of installed applications are left behind when the programs are uninstalled. Sometimes un-installations just go wrong leaving a mess behind. So best to be very clear of what you want. These days with so much crapware being pre-loaded on an OEM machine, this gets even worse !

2) Do not install too many fonts. Every new font you install uses memory. Having just too many fonts takes its toll on Startup. To check out how many fonts your machine has, Go to the Control Panel and click open the Fonts icon. Having around 500 fonts should be just good enough. Select fonts you know you don’t need, right-click, and click Delete. Do take care that you don’t end up deleting System fonts. If you need to have more fonts, use a good Font Manager to enable/disable fonts on the fly as and when you require them.

3) Avoid installing warez and be careful with Freebie Offers ! Stay away from shady websites which promise you free pirated websites, cracks, games, screensavers, music, etc, as you’ll never know when your machine’ll be hit by spyware ! Even though you may end up removing it with your anti-malware, the damage will have been done.

4) Remove add-ons: Frequently check up your start up programs, File Explorer extension and Browser add-ons, and remove or disable the one’s you don’t need. The same holds for toolbars too.

5) Take care of your PC ! Use a good Junk Cleaner & Optimizer, to identify and delete the junk files, invalid registry entries and invalid shortcuts, regularly. A monthly run is good enough, but if you use your PC and/or surf intensively, a weekly run should be fine too! Defragment your Registry and your Disks too occasionally. Also run your antivirus and anti-spyware software regularly. Make these a monthly habit, at least.

Windows 8 offers you the Refresh & Reset PC feature which are really helpful features, to make your Windows snappy & responsive again, as good as new, without going through the rigmarole of a fresh install!

If you are looking to fight Windows Rot, here are two more links that will interest you:

  1. Beginners tips to optimize Windows for better performance
  2. How To Make Windows Start, Run and Shutdown Faster.

Do let us know if you are facing this gradual slow-down and freezing in Windows 7 or Windows 8 too.

Post updated and ported from WVC

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Excellent piece, Anand. It’s worthy of note, though, that progressive slowness is one thing (and is explained by precisely what you wrote); but getting crashing and blue screens of death (BSOD) is kind of a whole ‘nuther thing. The former should not necessarily cause the latter… though, obviously, it’s nevertheless possible.

    That notwithstanding, excellent advice!

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
    Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

  2. I always recommend that if you do need a lot of fonts, install them as a shortcut. Most designers complain of slow systems due to thousands of installed typefaces. Since doing these steps below, Windows and applications like Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator load much, much quicker.

    How: Create a folder and put all your new fonts here. Then go to Control Panel > Font Settings and check the box that states Allow fonts to be installed using a shortcut (advanced). Once done click OK and exit the fonts dialog. Go to your new fonts folder > Select All > Right Click any font and select > Install as a Shortcut. Done!

  3. You are right! 🙂 Thanks for mentioning it.

  4. Nice, never thought of it! 🙂

  5. BBG

    You forgot that disk activity has to do with the “Windows Rot.”

  6. Thomas Maher

    welll guess im extremely lucky for my 11 yr old dell dimensions 8200 was got on first release in 2002 i think it still running xo now windows 7 after i upgraded stuff never had any probelms or blue screens jsut was slow before i upgraded it adn used system machanic on it to

  7. Thomas Maher

    how do you get rid of disk activity in windows 8.1 at start up

  8. The disk activity probably relates to Maintenance tasks.

  9. This disk activity relates to Initialization, etc.

  10. Nightmare-Rex

    yea i hate this rot thing i never knew there was a name for it but its annoying to have to re-install windows to fix something you should just be able to fix with simple uninstallations and clean up.

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