Win7 - 32 or 64 bit? That is the question...

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by luciddream, Aug 14, 2012.

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  1. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    I'm trying to weigh the Pro's & Con's here. What would be the advantages in terms of security from one to the next? I thought I recalled seeing certain mitigation techniques, possibly those available in EMET, that were only available in the 64 bit version and not the 32 bit variety? Or am I mistaken there?

    Compatibility... is there still a ton of stuff that just won't play well on 64 bit? Or is that nowhere near as much of a problem anymore? My main concern is that Sandboxie runs well for me. But I may also continue to use Comodo FW/D+. In regards to D+, isn't there an issue there? And how well does the "enhanced protection mode" circumvent this problem? Will Firefox play well with it?

    Granted, I probably won't upgrade until XP support ends. Hopefully compatibility is better by then.
     
  2. Hungry Man

    Hungry Man Registered Member

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    You're probably thinking about ASLR. It's available on both versions but it's much more effective on 64bit.

    I don't have any issues with 64bit and software compatibility.
     
  3. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    Security software developers aren't able to develop their programs to patch the kernel in 64 bit systems, so my understanding is they don't secure as well as they do on 32 bit systems. I think the developer of Sanboxie has stated as such about his software.

    Up until the most recent Microsoft Security Intelligence Report the latest report shows 64 bit systems have incurred higher infection rates than 32 bit systems. That surprised me, but they suggest it may be because of greater acceptance of 64 bit by mainstream users, and that malware writers may be targeting the 64 bit platform more than before.

    some info on the two here: -http://lifehacker.com/5431284/the-lifehacker-guide-to-64+bit-vs-32+bit-operating-systems
     
  4. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    How much RAM? More than 4GB pretty much requires 64 bit. 4GB or less I personally would go 32 bit for greater compatibility and greater speed (with 2GB 32 bit is noticeable faster).
     
  5. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    Microsoft made the Win 7 64 kernel with help from the security field so that it wouldn't allow the vulnerabilities that has hit XP. This makes some things like Comodo FW/D+ less effective because it can't hook into the kernel but on the whole it's a much safer platform than XP ever was.

    Comodo has released a fix which is enhanced protection mode and by now 99% of software is Win 7 ready so I don't think you will have much trouble.Otherwise if you have a PC/Laptop with 8GB of DDR then there is no reason not to use 64 Bit.

    Malware writers might be targeting it, but I wouldn't let that effect me from upgrading. With Professional & Ultimate you can tweak a lot of settings and really get a secure system as can be.
     
  6. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    Probably true, although I've yet to be compromised on XP. But I'm trying to compare the 64 & 32 bit versions of Win7 here, not 64bit Win7 to XP.
     
  7. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    Probably so. But I don't look at this as a justification to use 64bit, rather a reason to use 32. I don't want to be targeted.

    Seeing as how I manage to remain uncompromised on XP, I really shouldn't let any of this play into my decision. It will be more about usability and compatibility.

    I'm going to be building the box myself, and it'll be "pimped out". I don't upgrade often, so when I do I make sure it'll last for awhile. That right there is a big reason to go with 64. If that is "the future". I don't want to upgrade after all this time only to end up with a box that's dated again the next day. That being said, I don't see 32 becoming obsolete any time in the near future. As of now I consider it more reliable.

    Again, it's probably 2 years away for me. So much could change from now till then. I could skip 7 altogether and go right to 8. Heck, even 9 at this rate.
     
  8. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I bought a version that came with both x32 and x64, ultimate. As long as my machine is capable of using x64, I can start with 4gb ram if desired, and then if I wanted to use x64, I could upgrade to more ram. (I bought 8gb, just saying how it could be used)

    Might be an option to consider to "future proof" things.

    Sul.
     
  9. bo elam

    bo elam Registered Member

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    Last month, when I bought a W7 machine, I picked 32 Bits as I expect SBIE and other software to work better on it than on 64 Bits. This machine comes with 2GB of Ram and even though it feels fast, I wanted to add more Ram. I found after searching about Ram on 32Bits, that 32 Bit machines will recognize up to 3.5/4 GB no matter what you add.

    When I bought the extra Ram, I did not know about 32Bits not being able to recognize more than what I mentioned so when I installed the 4GB sick, it was not recognized at all by the machine. I got me an exchange for the money I spend on the Ram but the manager of that store and other HP stores here where I live, claim that 32 Bit machines wont take more than the 2 GB that come from the factory. In other words, they say that to have more Ram, I need to upgrade to 64Bits. This is something that I wont do in a new laptop.

    Luciddream, if you use many programs that need a lot of Ram, I guess 64 Bits will be better for you. For myself, I only run SBIE and don't have any real need for extra Ram so 32 Bits feels great. I haven't given up on adding more Ram to my machine but I am having a hard time convincing the store managers here that 32 Bits machines can use more than 2GB.

    Bo
     
  10. Bob D

    Bob D Registered Member

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  11. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    If memory serves, with the PAE flag set (Physical Address Extension) x86 (on xp at least) can see roughly 4.32gb of addressable memory. This is ALL addressable memory. If you have a video card with 1gb of memory, your system will show something like 3.32 gb of ram, even though you have 4gb in total, because the 1gb video card memory is "addressed" by the OS.

    Regarding memory though, no doubt if you have need for it, x64 is the clear choise. But in most peoples use, I don't think they even approach 4gb of actual use very often, let alone 8gb. Therefore, if you are looking at it from a memory resource viewpoint, 4gb should be fine for most people, whether the OS is x86 or x64.

    Sul.
     
  12. bo elam

    bo elam Registered Member

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    Thanks for the link. I got me the Starter edition, according to the link, 2GB is the most that can be handled by this system.

    A few days ago, I saw this other link here at Wilders in another thread, it shows Starter as being able to handle 4GB. Probably, the Microsoft link is the one that's correct. Whatever, this laptop feels just fine the way that it came.
    http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows-7/windows-7-product-editions-a-comparison-128684

    Bo
     
  13. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I've agonized over this question as I am looking at new hardware myself. I don't see myself using the new machines any differently.

    I have four gig on this machine with about 3.4gb available. With that I've had every program of the Office Pro 2010 suite open, Quickbooks, open, a vm machine with 1gb allocated, a futures trading program running, Paperport open, and no big lag on any one of them.

    So I ask myself why I need 8 gb or more.

    Pete
     
  14. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    For myself it came down to desiring many vm's running at one time. That is the primary purpose. Some secondary was the ability to allocate some excess ram to ram drives, which I periodically will do for various reasons. And finally, I have plans to do some audio work, which I have read can get a bit memory hungry.

    If it weren't for wanting more vm's though, I would have stuck with 4gb and x86.

    Sul.
     
  15. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    That would be my only reason as well going with > 4Gb, otherwise 4 is plently enough for my needs.
     
  16. Bob D

    Bob D Registered Member

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    Respected Bill Pytlovany (WinPatrol developer, Microsoft MVP):
    and:
    http://billpstudios.blogspot.com/2011/05/64-bit-windows-is-here-like-it-or-not.html
     
  17. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    If my only concern was what I want to use tomorrow, it'd be 32-bit, no question. But as I said this box will be with me for a long time. Believe it or not, when I bought this Dell Dimension 3000 it was state of the art. I want my next one to last as long. So chief to my concerns is the longevity of 32-bit OS's. How quickly will it be phased out?

    I don't run a memory intensive setup at all, and as usual I'll tweak the bejesus out of the OS and streamline it. 4 GB will be plenty. But I kinda like the "future proof" idea Sully had, in case I want to make the switch to 64 some day. Build a box with high potential specs (12-16 GB RAM) and start with 4 GB and 32-bit. Add more RAM later if need be.

    Another big question is this difficulty hooking to the kernel 64-bit represents. Weighing the pros & cons of it. It seems a very practical deterrent for malware on the surface. But... it can also have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your security software. Curing the disease by killing the patient, a bit? I think I can learn to live without a HIPS. But Sandboxie... I think not. I can't decide whether I'm safer as a result of this measure taken on 64-bit OS's, or less safe. But in the end, I'll probably manage to remain uncompromised & uninfected no matter which way I go. So the security isn't a big deal. Maybe just the illusion of it (feeling safer), which I think would be the case with fully functioning software (mainly Sandboxie). That and usability.

    The decision is becoming more clear to me... not that you could tell from such ramblings. lol
     
  18. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    I've decided that if I were upgrading right now I'd go with Win7 Ultimate 32-bit. But I won't be for awhile, so subject to change.

    Thanks to everyone for the insight.

    Mods can close this now if they want...
     
  19. Dundertaker

    Dundertaker Registered Member

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    Same here!
     
  20. SirDrexl

    SirDrexl Registered Member

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    What's the logic in choosing 32-bit with 4GB of RAM? Aren't you leaving a lot of RAM unused? And then if you add more RAM, you have to re-install the OS to use it (which may or may not be a big deal).

    I understand that 64-bit applications take up more RAM, but I don't think it's enough to make 32-bit worth it at 4GB.
     
  21. ESQ_ERRANT

    ESQ_ERRANT Registered Member

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    Running VMWARE WORKSTATION with a number of guest OS installations requires the additional RAM, in my experience. And, it was only after adding a number of sticks to my WIN 7 PRO 64BIT RIG that I found I could utilize virtualization without suffering a concomitant slowdown in performance.

    Of course, using VMWARE WORKSTATION with a WIN XP PRO 32BIT GUEST OS and adding SANDBOXIE to the mix gives me pretty much all the security I might reasonably expect to obtain whilst surfing the internet ocean -- more than would be obtained through use of SANDBOXIE on the HOST OS alone, albeit certainly more security than I would plausibly ever need. But, as I use VMWARE WORKSTATION to do quite a bit of testing of various software these days and, as I have quite a few programs on my native machine, I have found the additional RAM to be helpful if not indispensable. Thus, with the advice of the Company that built the machine for me, I decided to go with a 64BIT RIG rather than with a 32BIT RIG once I upgraded my MICROSOFT OS from WIN XP PRO to WIN 7 PRO, the latter OS of which is much more resource intensive than the former OS is in any case. And, as I soon found that I needed a machine that could in fact utilize the additional RAM, I am glad that I heeded the advice of my benefactor/builder.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  22. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    There is a lot to be said for the needs of one vs the needs of another. None of this is apples to apples.

    I do much more vmware work at home, opening multiple vm's. I use x64 with 8gb of ram because of this. But that does not mean I must.

    At work I have an older Athlon 4000+ with only 2gb of ram running win7 ultimate. I am using vmware 6 on that. I can open two vm's without issue. I must turn off aero on the vm's to have near normal reactivity, but other than that, everything runs fine. I don't need x64 at work, nor do I need the extra memory. Not that it wouldn't work better, as it would, but I have legacy applications that perform better in x86. So unless the amount of vmware work I do there increases, there is nothing that makes x64 "better".

    The same is true in almost all aspects of using a computer. Just because the people who want you to buy thier product claim it is "better" does not mean it is. Same is true for security enthusiasts. Some will say x64 is more secure, so you should use it. Well, that may be true on paper, but in real life x86 can be just as secure.

    The real question is, IMO, which is right for you? If you don't know, and don't want to know, then x64 is a likely candidate, as it is more "future proof". If you do know, then choose whichever you need or want.

    IMO there is no one, anywhere, at any time, who can say to someone "you must use this to be safe/secure/fast". There are way too many variables in computing for that to happen. Not because I believe that to be true, but logically with so many options, it must be.

    Sul.
     
  23. Techwiz

    Techwiz Registered Member

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    I've used both 32-bit and 64-bit Vista and Seven. Honestly, I hardly notice a difference between them. Mostly used for gaming, but with my current schedule they've been recommissioned for school use. Clean Install :) Disclaimer: I do tend to lean on the heavier side of CPU and Memory abuse, but I've started using external hard drives.

    What has improved performance:
    - Using Comodo Firewall to block useless in/out bound network chatter.
    - Removing the junk ware from the system.
    - Sandboxie
    - Religiously (daily): CCleaner, PrivaZer, and CleanAfterMe

    **Next step will be disabling unnecessary processes. I've saved this for last because of the work involved and the number of computers I'm managing.
     
  24. luciddream

    luciddream Registered Member

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    My decision mainly comes down to what I trust the most to not give me compatibility issues and/or conflicts. I don't run a memory intensive setup. Quite to the contrary in fact.

    And my odds of being infected/compromised are quite low. I feel safer knowing the security software I do depend on (like Sandboxie or HIPS) will function properly. And not be limited by the 64-bit kernel/hooking "safeguard" in place. That was a decision that weighed on me.

    Also, as a tweaker/hardener, something like AppLocker is just too darned intriguing not to screw around with. So Ultimate it is.

    Again, I'm in no hurry whatsoever to move away from XP Pro though. And in fact I've just received even more incentive to keep using it. I'm getting two 1 GB sticks at my speed for free from someone I helped out. That'll max out this ancient box, lol. I'm eager to see if it'll make a noticeable difference. I don't even use half of the 1 GB I have now.
     
  25. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    I think the advantages of 64Bit out weigh the negatives. If your running ancient hardware then it's probably best you stick to XP or it's time to upgrade I think :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
     
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