Why Factory State For Notebooks is a bad idea

In this article, I will speak about my experience with Sony and Toshiba.

My Sony Vaio has 3 utility CD’s (That I had to burn) that can be used to restore the Vaio to “Factory State”. What makes me laugh is that whenever you have a problem with a Sony Vaio Laptop and need to contact support, they always ask you “What software does you computer have installed?” followed my their typical response – “Sir, please restore your computer to factory state and see if the problem persists”. To these guys its as if “Factory State” is some magical best possible software configuration where all problems can be simplified to either “Customer is at fault” or “The Vaio might need to go in for technical repairs”.

Its not really that I have a problem with Factory State, a laptop needs an OS right? What I have a problem with is the room full of people who decide what exactly will constitute “Factory State”, clearly these people have no interest in actually using the computer they’re selling. I myself am a computer expert, 10 years in the field and I know that when I buy a computer, the first thing I need to do is “fix it”, because it will arrive “broken” with its factory software configuration. Now you mighy be thinking, yeah yeah, most people are not that clued up on computers, and don’t mind a bit of bloat wear. This statement might have been true a few years ago, but the problem is “Factory State” has become so overbloated that its now noticable even to novice users. I’ve seen this with my friends, who know absolutely nothing about computers, they come to me and say “My computer is taking too long to start up, I think its because when I bought it, it comes with all these programs I don’t need”. Good old me ends up spending 2 hours, tweaking the startup and uninstalling the bloat on the PC.

Below I have documented the steps I need to take to fix a PC from “Factory State”.

  1. I removed the start up nag thats showing me about special offers from Symantec and Microsoft Office Home Student.
  2. I then needed to purge ALL SYMANTEC PRODUCTS from the system.  These products severly affect system performance. This involves uninstalling 4 products, and so 4 restarts…. but at least no more Norton.
  3. Because my laptop is running Windows Vista (and I wish I had an XP option, but I do not) I needed to get rid of UAC – thats right turn it off, do not pass begin or collect 200.
  4. Get rid of Microsoft Works – its completely outdated and there is actually no point at all in this product, originally intended to be the poor mans word, now MS Word Home and Student 2007 is affordable to the man on the street, and Open Office better still is FREE!  
  5. Have a coffee 🙂
  6. Install windows updates, “Factory State” does not get updated or patched, so its old, pre Vista SP1 days.
  7. Get rid of an installed copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition that is installed, but not activated. Note: this isn’t free software, Sony and Toshiba are not bundling any value in this for you.
  8. Change the power setting to performance, and not Vaio Optimised (i.e: slow performance, better battery)
  9. reboot
  10. Get rid of the google toolbar for IE, I don’t do bloat, full stop!
  11. Uninstall Google Earth, its not a bad program, but its now an outdated version, bottom line: if I wanted it on there I would have downloaded it and installed it myself.
  12. Uninstall Google Talk, I never use it.
  13. Oops just missed an activation assistant for Microsoft Office – better get rid of this too, and
  14. reboot
  15. uninstall SQL 2005, thats been included despite it having compatibility issues with this version of Vista (This is a Sony only issue)
  16. reboot
  17. Uninstall Proprietry Video and Photo Viewing Applications – not going to name them all, but there are so many (at least 9).  They’re usually total crap, and not required
  18. Uninstall the advertising screen saver
  19. Uninstall 1 AC3 Codec I don’t really trust at all
  20. EEEEwwww Roxio – this has to go! And now that its on, it could have major issues trying to install Nero after it. Lets hope for the best, this time.
  21. Picasso 2 – offically bloat
  22. Uninstall SQL Server native Client – getting bored already with this – Yawn!
  23. Uninstall Skype, its an older version!
  24. Get rid of the damn side bar already!
  25. Uninstall the 56k fax modem (not sure why they would include this hardware on such a modern PC, but its completely useless to me)
  26. Smoke all SonicStage Products, not sure who these guys are or what they do, but not interested!
  27. Reboot
  28. Install some more updates, that are coming through on Windows Automatic Updates
  29. Turn off most of the Vista Fuzz, that slows the PC down considerably (Core Duo 2 2.2GHz)
  30. Set the page file to fixed size
  31. Turn off Vista Indexing for the OS drive (another feature that just slows you down)
  32. Install some more Vista Updates
  33. Reboot
  34. Shutdown all unrequired services that are not required by most users (e.g: fax)
  35. Remove “buy from Ebay” desktop advertisment icons
  36. Clean up general clutter on the desktop from advertising companies
  37. Remove duplicate and unneeded items from the start menu
  38. Turn off system restore!
  39. Get rid of everything relating to tablet PC, I don’t own one, and more than likely never will!
  40. Get rid of Vaio AV launcher crap, thats what Media centre is for.

I know its a bit of a long post, but I have to tell you after all the work, the notebook is finally ready, and in my opinion now “Factory State”.