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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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  • by batkiwi (137781) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:24PM (#43727875)

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

  • by narcc (412956) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:31PM (#43727949) Journal

    Yeah, accessibility is for losers!

  • 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.

  • Anecdotal... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @10:45PM (#43728063)

    Not a whole lot of proof here. The person wrote an article for a magazine claiming that this service used a lot of CPU. He didn't measure it. He didn't try to discover if there might be something else causing it to misbehave. He just wrote an "oh noes! Apple sux!" article.

    SlashDot standards continue to slide...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @11:23PM (#43728297)
    The problem isn't in charging the phone - that can be done without iTunes installed at all. The issue is for downloading music (to my knowledge - I don't use iTunes with my phone, only an old iPod) - any interactions that you want to make happen from your computer to your phone have to be blessed by iTunes. As another poster mentioned, iTunes has at least 3 different applications that run at the same time - killing any one of them by itself it will restart immediately. Kill all 3 and they'll restart after about a minute. While it's "easy" enough for techies to go in and disable the service, my take on the question is: Why should that even be necessary? Why isn't there a clearly labeled toggle somewhere in the software? And the answer is that - at least for iDevices - there are no other alternatives (as a different poster mentioned, there are paid for apps that say they can accomplish this - I don't know anything about them). I can't come up with a Linux equivalent...sorry. (BTW, I'm not the AC from above, I think it's a good question - it's not unreasonable to have control over your own devices, however Apple has given us their opinion about that in no uncertain terms).
  • 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 ultranova (717540) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @12:59AM (#43728695)

    Reverse engineering is legal in the US.

    That something is legal won't stop a company from suing and using court costs - both money and time - as a de facto punishment.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @01:57AM (#43728919)

    N/T.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @03:36AM (#43729249) Homepage

    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.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @03:57AM (#43729365) Homepage

    Even back in the mass storage days they started to encrypt the iTunes database in an attempt to lock non-iTunes software out. They really are dicks about it.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @07:21AM (#43730091) Journal

    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 on your comment.

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