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iTunes: Still Slowing Down Windows PCs After All These Years 519

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-is-a-luxury dept.
colinneagle sends this quote from an article at NetworkWorld: "I run a very nifty desktop utility called Rainmeter on my PC that I heartily recommend to anyone who wants to keep an eye on their system. One of its main features is it has skins that can monitor your system activity. Thanks to my numerous meters, I see all CPU, disk, memory and network activity in real time. the C: drive meter. It is a circle split down the middle, with the right half lighting up to indicate a read and the left half lighting up for write activity. The C: drive was flashing a fair amount of activity considering I had nothing loaded save Outlook and Word, plus a few background apps. At the time, I didn't have a Rainmeter skin that lists the top processes by CPU and memory. So instead, I went into the Task Manager, and under Performance selected the Resource Monitor. Under the Processes tab, the culprit showed its face immediately: AppleMobileDeviceService.exe. It was consuming a ridiculous amount of threads and CPU cycles. The only way to turn it off is to go into Windows Services and turn off the service. There's just one problem. I use an iPhone. I can't disable it. But doing so for a little while dropped the CPU meters to nothing. So I now have more motivation to migrate to a new phone beyond just having one with a larger screen. This problem has been known for years. AppleMobileDeviceService.exe has been in iTunes since version 7.3. People complained on the Apple boards more than two years ago that it was consuming up to 50% of CPU cycles, and thus far it's as bad as it always has been. Mind you, Mac users aren't complaining. Just Windows users."
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iTunes: Still Slowing Down Windows PCs After All These Years

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  • There's just one problem. I use an iPhone. I can't disable it.

    Sorry, can someone explain to a Linux/Android guy how having an iPhone implies you can't kill misbehaving software on your Windows box?

    • by mr100percent (57156) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:19PM (#43727815) Homepage Journal

      The service runs in the background and launches iTunes when the phone is plugged in. It's quite handy.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:29PM (#43727925)

        You can use the SC in the command line to enable the service when you need it and disable it when you don't using a BAT file.
        (sc config servicenamehere start= disable)

        Just saying... and thanks for the head up on Rainmeter

      • by jader3rd (2222716) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:43PM (#43728041)

        The service runs in the background and launches iTunes when the phone is plugged in. It's quite handy.

        That feature is built into Windows (at least Vista+). A user can decide which action to take when a specific device is plugged in; no extra services required.

        • by Ghaoth (1196241) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @12:38AM (#43728611)
          I have an iPod, not an iPhone. However, the AppleMobileDeviceService.exe process is running in the background. I have never seen it gobble up cycles. It normally sits at "00" CPU. When I plug in the iPod, it jumps to an incredible "01" for a very short interval and then returns to "00". So, does anyone else have this process gobbles up to 50% of the CPU?
          • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @01:21AM (#43728813)

            I have an iPod, not an iPhone. However, the AppleMobileDeviceService.exe process is running in the background. I have never seen it gobble up cycles. It normally sits at "00" CPU. When I plug in the iPod, it jumps to an incredible "01" for a very short interval and then returns to "00". So, does anyone else have this process gobbles up to 50% of the CPU?

            I looked at my computer, and while it's had an uptime of probably since April's patch tuesday, that service has consumed a grand total of... 1m53s of CPU time.

            He never mentions what version of iTunes he's using - perhaps it's still 10.x, which is horrible. iTunes 11 has actually fixed a LOT of stuff and is actually pretty decent and more importantly, fast. It's incredible how fast iTunes is nowadays. I'm not sure what Apple did, but damn it's fixed a lot of stutters, halts, and stalls.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              It's incredible how fast iTunes is nowadays. I'm not sure what Apple did, but damn it's fixed a lot of stutters, halts, and stall.

              I think you might have some slightly off standards for fast: no stutters and stalls on a PC in 2013 is the absolute baseline. My ancient netbook (PIII 900, which was stare of the art 12 or 13 years ago) can play 720p video without halts, stalls and stutters.

              "Incredibly fast" actually sounds more like "not incredibly awful".

              Disclaimer: I've never used itunes, this is based purely

          • by deniable (76198)
            Same here but ATH.exe goes rogue every so often. Kill the process and I can't sync an iDevice until next reboot. I can't be bothered looking into it. I don't need to sync that much.
        • iTunes replaces quite a few standard Windows services. Until a few versions ago there was a DNS resolver service, but I think it has been built into the client now. Yeah, iTunes does its own DNS lookups for some reason.

          The entire MacOS font rendering system is also in there to make sure that iTunes looks exactly the same on Mac and Windows. That's why the font rendering is a bit blurred compared to other apps that use the Windows Cleartype system that prioritizes clarity over accurate shapes.

      • Ya because you have to plug your iphone in constantly. I've disabled this and iTunes doesn't pop up when I plug in the iPhone. Only reason I ever plug in the phone is to take photos and videos off of it. Other than that there's no need to plug it in to the PC, everything backups up wirelessly or to the cloud automatically.
      • The service runs in the background and launches iTunes when the phone is plugged in. It's quite handy.

        That's your opinion. I always found it to be incredibly annoying, as it launches that shitty app every time you plug it in. You can't charge your Ipad without firing off ITunes.

        Yet another example of Apple's holier than thou concept of design: "We know better than you do, about how you want to use our products."

  • I haven't attached my iPhone to my PC in months.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @11:03PM (#43728175)

      Clearly the problem is that he's using Windows. If he's bought an iPhone, then the next step is to buy an iMac to plug the iPhone into, and then a new iPhone, because his old iPhone won't work with his new iMac. Also a black turtle neck. And a picture, "Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011" for his wall.

      Personally I don't buy iCrap. I have a picture of Dennis Ritchie on my wall, and underneath, his widely celebrated comment: Steve Jobs is a cunt*.

      * This is not an actual comment by Dennis Ritchie**.
      ** To my knowledge.

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:21PM (#43727841) Homepage Journal

    I tried to use iTunes once, but I couldn't complete the installations because a required entry drop down list wasn't in the dialog tab order, and I didn't have a mouse available, just a keyboard at that time.

    Their graphics/design guys are good, but Apple developers/testers just seem lazy to me, missing something so basic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by batkiwi (137781)

      Assuming that a user will have a mouse for using windows isn't a huge mistake to be fair...

    • by Xest (935314)

      It's their Windows development team, they're just fucking incompetent.

      When they released Safari for Windows it was the most god awful piece of software I've ever had the misfortune to use. It's user interface was non-standard and made no sense, it crashed every few seconds and it was slow as fuck. It's the sort of trainwreck of a piece of software I'd expect from someone writing their first ever application using C++ without knowing the first thing about pointers and so forth, it was just horrible.

      I'd wager

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:22PM (#43727847)

    And replace it with the Rainmeter skin that plays MP3s.

  • iTunes (Score:3, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:23PM (#43727869)

    People complained on the Apple boards more than two years ago that it was consuming up to 50% of CPU cycles, and thus far it's as bad as it always has been. Mind you, Mac users aren't complaining. Just Windows users."

    The reason is two-fold. First, iTunes scans your folders for new files periodically if you don't let it manage your collection for you. Second, it's constantly searching for an iDevice using the 'mobile' service; All that CPU is being eaten making windows calls to each attached USB bus and being asked "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" And then, of course, launching iTunes as soon as one is detected. You can disable this service with no ill-effect, but you have to do it manually. iTunes will then throw up a warning and then continue on its merry. That, by the way, is also on the Apple message boards.

    Now yes, Apple shouldn't have done this without telling its users: Hey, enabling this is gonna slow your junk down! -- But on the flip, Microsoft's hardware abstraction layer is a terrible, horrible, implimentation that makes every access from userspace terribly expensive. And worse? Some of the documentation specifically says they want it that way! On purpose! Everytime I have to work with HAL I'm filled with a strong urge to strip all my clothes off, burn them, then take a cold shower while shivering up in the corner, scrubbing my skin raw, chanting "must...wash...away...the sin..."

    I guess what I'm saying is... Shame on both of them. Now if you'll excuse me, I have another shower to take.

    • Basically, I don't like complicated code, and my brain has been spoiled with Fortran. I write:

      somelabel: if(something_happened() process_it(); usleep(100000); goto somelabel;

      As a result, I have a latency too short to be noticed, and also the process eats almost no processor time when idle. If the Microsoft or Apple programmers cannot just do the same (I don't imagine that they have no more sophisticated methods for dealing with external events) - I wonder why they don't stand with "WILL WRITE WINDOWS PROGRA

      • Re:iTunes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @11:19PM (#43728269) Homepage

        somelabel: if(something_happened() process_it(); usleep(100000); goto somelabel;

        As a result, I have a latency too short to be noticed, and also the process eats almost no processor time when idle.

        100,000 microseconds (aka 0.1 seconds) is too short to be noticed? Maybe for some very lightweight tasks, but for many (most?) computer tasks, 0.1 seconds is a huge amount of latency. If, for example, your hard disk controller was programmed using this logic, your computer would take several hours to boot. Even writing a mouse driver this way would provide a poor user experience (10Hz mouse pointer updates)

        A much better event loop would be:

        somelabel: if(something_happened() process_it(); wait_until_next_event_is_ready(); goto somelabel;

        This would have close to zero latency, and would eat precisely zero processor time when idle. Of course the trick is implementing wait_until_next_event_is_ready() to do what its name implies, but it's really not that hard to do in most cases.

        • somelabel: if(something_happened() process_it(); wait_until_next_event_is_ready(); goto somelabel;

          This would have close to zero latency, and would eat precisely zero processor time when idle.

          Still bad. You are tying up precious resources such as processes, threads and memory. In general it is better to:

          1. Register for events, e.g by filling a jump table and register it with the OS. Each item in the jump table represents a well-known function such as "device arrived", "system goes to battery power", "device removed" or "system shutting down".

          2. return and relinquish any resources such as process, threads, memory, handles.

          3. When a routine is invoked by the OS then perform the function as quick

    • by fermion (181285)
      The current version of iTunes also has a more aggressive synch function with online content. it tries to connect continuously to the Apple servers it really is annoying.

      Not that iTunes has not always been annoying. One reason I stopped acquiring Apple video content, even after they stored it online for me, is that iTunes is the worst video player on the planet. And I am including WinDVD.

      That said, as been mentioned, iTunes sucks and should only be used sparingly. With the past few versions of iPhone

    • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by benjymouse (756774) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @01:26AM (#43728829)

      But on the flip, Microsoft's hardware abstraction layer is a terrible, horrible, implimentation that makes every access from userspace terribly expensive.

      And worse? Some of the documentation specifically says they want it that way! On purpose!

      Citation needed.

      Windows actually has a rather sophisticated driver model which allows many drivers to be implemented in user mode or at least be divided so that big parts can run in user mode. This improves both stability and security. A relevant type of drivers in this context is bus drivers, specifically bus drivers for USB. These drivers will discover new devices on the USB bus *regardless* of their make, capability etc. The bus driver til inform *your* driver when a device arrives. No need to scan or poll for devices. If you do it right you can just sit there and wait to be informed. No need to poll, no need to even tie up a thread in waiting state.

      That is all in the documentation:

      Types of WDM Drivers [microsoft.com]
      Function drivers [microsoft.com]
      An example [microsoft.com]

      So which part of the documentation did you read?

      Everytime I have to work with HAL I'm filled with a strong urge to strip all my clothes off, burn them, then take a cold shower while shivering up in the corner, scrubbing my skin raw, chanting "must...wash...away...the sin..."

      Maybe you should find another line of work?

    • by Xest (935314)

      "The reason is two-fold."

      Neither of the reasons you give justify anything close to 50% of CPU usage on a system within iTunes' minimum requirements and there's no reason to really continuously poll given that Windows can raise events when a device is attached anyway.

    • by reanjr (588767)

      Windows has an API for hooking into file system events. If iTunes is scanning the hard drive except on startup, then it's because Apple has shitty engineers. Same with USB. Why don't Windows focused apps that do the same thing have no performance problem?

      I'm a Linux/Android user, but you just seem like an Apple fanboy.

  • Purposeful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by enigma32 (128601) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:23PM (#43727873)

    Sometimes I swear Apple makes the Windows versions of their software terrible on purpose. It's still an uphill battle trying to use any of their software on a windows machine, as it always has been.

    Why?
    Obviously when you're using their amazing iPhone or iPad or whatever other tacky Apple gadget, you'll start to feel that your PC isn't up to par and you should replace it with a Mac.

    Total rubbish. People should avoid buying trashy Apple products at all costs, lest they support this fiefdom.

    full disclosure: I have used Linux exclusively for the past 13 years. I only have to interact with Apple and Microsoft's junk when I have to sync my wife's iPad with her PC.

    • Re:Purposeful (Score:5, Informative)

      by ruir (2709173) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:56PM (#43728137)
      Must be to compete with Microsoft. Their Office for Mac is a piece of junk and often doest adhere to the HID guide of development software. Hell, I cant even cut & paste images dragging and dropping them as in other Apple software. And it is SLOW.And lets not get started about Outlook. I have been trying to take a coworker out of it.
      • by martinX (672498)

        Must be to compete with Microsoft. Their Office for Mac is a piece of junk

        Absolutely it is. Office on a low end PC is OK and the interface is usable. Office on a Mac takes forever just to start, takes forever to save, always seems to be converting something to something else and just generally gets in the way. It's just terrible stuff.

  • by L4m3rthanyou (1015323) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:25PM (#43727895)

    Crapping up Windows PCs helps perpetuate the myth that Macs are inherently faster/better.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:26PM (#43727899) Homepage

    Steve Jobs death I believe was because his accusation of accusing Flash as being crappy software while iTunes remained by far the worse POS ever written, literally guilted Mr. Jobs to death.

    Seriously though...I've never wasted more time than I have with iTunes. Never had any app cause my system to become unresponsive more. I would wager $5,000 Apple deliberately chose to make for a sucky experience on Windows.

  • Sell your iPhone. (Score:4, Informative)

    by retchdog (1319261) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:26PM (#43727903) Journal

    A similar google service on my MacBook causes the keyboard to stutter every few hours and occasionally disables the camera until I reboot. There's a way to disable it, but I haven't bothered yet. However, the process is incredibly similar to this one [apple.com] for disabling applemobiledeviceservice on Windows.

    Mac users don't complain because iTunes on Mac doesn't have this problem, or much of any problem that I've noticed. This is either because Apple doesn't know how or care to code for Windows, or because it's a conspiracy to get iPhone and iTunes users to buy Macs because "Windows is slow." In my opinion, it's probably a mixture. Apple just doesn't have as much incentive to provide a good Windows experience, so they don't bother, knowing that this will probably convert a few suckers to Mac.

    Similarly, Google services don't seem to screw up Windows or Linux, and Google's MTP support for Mac (MTP is required for Nexus 4) is ridiculously minimal. It's an analogous situation. Vendors for system X don't care about system Y, news at 11.

    The solution seems simple. Sell your iPhone to a Mac user, and buy an Android device. Why would you even buy an iPhone for Windows? I use a Mac and I still won't buy one.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Similarly, Google services don't seem to screw up Windows or Linux, and Google's MTP support for Mac (MTP is required for Nexus 4) is ridiculously minimal. It's an analogous situation. Vendors for system X don't care about system Y, news at 11.

      Actually, Android's implementation of MTP is crap. It BARELY works. Hell, on Windows I can easily screw it up if I try to open a folder before it finishes enumerating.

      One of our developers actually worked on the Mac trying to get Android to work better (via OSX FUSE).

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:27PM (#43727905)
    superuser.com is too busy and /. comes to the rescue. Thanks /.

    1 Answer:

    - First of all, you can charge your iPhone without having iTunes loaded/loading (see this [superuser.com]).
    - Then, many users don't have such problem: be sure you have the latest windows SP, and the latest iTunes.

    Possible duplicate from Prevent iTunes from starting when iPhone is plugged in on Windows [superuser.com]
  • by redback (15527) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:41PM (#43728027)

    iTunes is shit. It has always been shit. It will probably always be shit.

    This is not news.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:48PM (#43728083)
    I hate how these companies seem to think that they can take over my machine; HP seems to think that all I do is print. Office seems to think that I type all day. AV software usually seems to think that all I do is want to hunt viruses. iTunes seems to think that I just screw with my iPad/iPhone all day. BlackBerry violates your machine. Java seems to think that it should check for an upgrade 100% of the time.

    The last few updates from Apple have this hidden MRT process that goes made for hours after the upgrade. But the MRT gives no hint that it is installing, and no hint that it is running. Your machine grinds to a halt so you slowly bring up the list of active services and find that it is using all your CPU and that of your neighbor plus so much memory that it is worse than the viruses that it is hunting.

    I wish that people would have an OS that has a simple sandbox keeping software installation tools from installing whatever they want. Then when I run Office or iTunes or even my AV it will then run. When I shut it down it will stop. The same for drivers. When I go to print it should run the driver and then go away.

    But another critical tool that could be created right now would be to have an activity monitor that differentiates vital services from crap from Acer or HP. With this tool you would bring up a list of services running and not only kill them now but disable them for all time. No more kill the service only to have some daemon pop it back up seconds later. I don't want to go digging through any config/startup/hidden file nonsense.
  • Temp Files (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:55PM (#43728133)

    Windows ITunes is not just slow; it leaves gigantic *.tmp files in your Itunes folder, especially if you have a large library. Go ahead..check it out. I freed up over 60 gigabytes of space by deleting them recently, and I think they are created everytime you load ITunes.

  • by dirtyhippie (259852) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @11:44PM (#43728389) Homepage

    I stopped reading when I got to the bit about how his virus scanner was written in assembly for speed. This is a ridiculous assertion given that virus scanners slow the system down because of IO pressure, not to mention how good modern x86 compilers are.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @07:55AM (#43730229)
    You've willingly purchased a walled garden topped with razor wire (Apple) and now you're complaining about the pointy bits?

    Go look in your iMirror; the root cause is the reflection.
  • by kommakazi (610098) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @05:11PM (#43735257)
    about a problem they never bothered to fully investigate and resolve. Guess what, there's a support article on Apple's website which details this exact issue and gives a resolution. http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4123?viewlocale=en_US [apple.com] Next?

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