Computer runs slow, how do I make it faster?

I have a Dell with a 700 mhz Celeron processor.  I just installed Windows XP and it is running very slow.  I takes a long time to open programs and start menu and things like control panel and accessories.  Is there anything I can do short of buying a new computer to make it run faster?  Can I replace the chip with a faster model?  Add more memory?  Is this cost effective?  Is replacing the chip the same as replacing the motherboard?

Also, I have Direcway Satellite Internet.  It opens web pages at about the same speed as my dialup service did.  Will making the computer faster in general help speed this up as well?

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Hi hulettwyo,
Cheapest way (most cost effective) is to add as much additional memory (RAM) as you can afford. I hear that Windows XP needs as much as 512Mb before it becomes reasonable.

Regards .. Alan
Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
Hi hulettwyo,
Windows XP running slowly?

The following is a list of tweaks and tips for speeding up Windows XP.


Make Sure You're virus Free

Go To
For a Free online check


Make sure you don't have any Spyware or Adware running on you're PC



Turn off automatic updates!

Start >Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System >Automatic Updates tab > Tick "Turn off Automatic Updating"

Or if you're on Windows Classic view

Right Click My Computer and select Properties > Automatic Updates tab > Tick "Turn off Automatic Updating"

You will now need to stop the service

Start >Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Administrator Tools > Services >Locate the "Automatic Update" service > Right click it and select Properties > Change the Startup Type to "Disabled".

**Warning its now up to you to keep up to date with any hot fixes or service packs.


Disable "System Restore" service and "Indexing" service

Start >Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System >System Restore Tab > Tick "Turn off System Restore"

Or if you're on Windows Classic view

Right Click My Computer and select Properties > System Restore Tab > Tick "Turn off System Restore"

You will now need to stop the service

Start >Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Administrator Tools > Services >Locate the "System Restore" service > Right click it and select Properties > Change the Startup Type to "Disabled". Then Locate the Indexing Service and disable that also.


Tweak the Page File settings.



Defrag the Hard Drive!

Even if XP tells you it doesn't need doing!


Find out what’s running in the background!

Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete

Then click the processes Tab (Lot of stuff there eh!) Find out what all that means here

If theres anything that shouldn’t be running, uninstall it! Or find out where it was launched from, either the startup folder, or from the registry, look at this registry key



Find out what services (You don’t need) are running in the background

Look here


Ensure You’ve got all the latest Service Packs and Hotfixes From Microsoft
Ensure You have all the latest Drivers for Your Hardware (And Windows XP supports it!)


If you don’t see any improvement after that lot GO AND BUY SOME RAM!!!


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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
Slow Win XP on Network

The FIRST thing to check Is the PC has Valid DNS server in its Connection Properties (Under TCP/IP) and the correct DNS suffix. You might want to try Adding Your Domain Controllers IP address in as the secondary DNS server.

*****Slow Network Operation*****

Ensure You have Service Pack 1 Which fixed a bug for slow network browsing see

By default Windows XP searches for Network Shares and Printers to disable this follow this advice

If your connecting to a W2K Server it will autodiconnect Idle LAN connections after 15 Mins to disable this follow this for advice

The problem might be n the local machine Speed up XP by disabling indexing

Slow copying Files from XP in a Domain Enviroment? See;en-us;321169

Slow Network Performance Occurs If You Copy Files to a Windows 2000 Domain Controller;en-us;321098

*****Slow Startup*****

Correcting System Hang at Startup

If your system hangs about 2 or 3 minutes at startup, where you can't access the Start button or the Taskbar, it may be due to one specific service (Background Intelligent Transfer) running in the background.

1. Click on Start/Run, type 'msconfig', then click 'OK'.
2. Go to the 'Services' tab, find the 'Background Intelligent Transfer' service, disable it, apply the changes & reboot.

How to Perform a Clean Boot in Windows XP

Slow logon to domain in XP Pro

Fast Boot / Fast Resume Design
BootVis.exe Tool

Is the machine slow logging into the a Domain? See
Big Business Goals? Which KPIs Will Help You

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WinXP does tend to be somewhat of a RAM hog.  You can try adding another stick of it, but make sure it's compatible with your motherboard.  Contact Dell and ask them, or order it from them.  Replacing the chip, assuming that the chip is the processor, is not the same as replacing the motherboard.  The motherboard is the board that your cables plug into, your processor sits on, and RAM sits in slots on.  Swapping in a new processor would make your computer run faster and would be cheaper than a whole new system.  Again, make sure it's compatible with your current motherboard before doing anything.  If you do end up buying a new processor, I suggest a pentium 4.

Try the tips and tweaks listed above first, and then if it doesn't help enough, THEN go to hardware upgrades.  Hardware upgrades should be the last and most drastic solution.
I don't think your mobo will take a P4. Look in the manual or the Dell site to see what is the highest MHz your board will handle and CPU type ( slot, socket, number of pins )
HOW MUCH RAM??  XP runs VERY slowly with LESS THAN 256MB.  If your system has 128MB then that is the problem.  My guess is that with a Celeron 700 system you had Win98 or ME originally.  Either of these run very well in 128MB or even 64MB.  XP, however needs much more.  It runs in 128MB but very slowly as you describe.  Upgrading to 256MB will make all the difference.

I disagree that 512MB is needed except in circumstances where you are running many apps at once or running apps that take huge amounts of memory (like database server or video image processing).

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hulettwyoAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the answers!!  I haven't had time to try any of these yet, but I will this weekend.  I will wrap up this question early next week.  

Again, thanks for the help!

Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
What's with the disclaimer, jhance? Someone upset about plain facts? You should place it at top of comment and a few rows of white space to give readers the chance to adjust to reality mode.

I was just commenting here to chime in: Lack of speed due to O/S - hardware combination. You might find windows 2000 to be a better choice.

hulettwyoAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the help.  I tried some of the tweaks and stuffed as much ram in as it would hold and it's running somewhat faster.  I just need to bite the bullet and get a new computer.

Again, thanks for all the good advice!

Also sometimes your ram may be faulty. If you bought a new ram then try removing your old ones and test if your speed has increased. System temperature also might be a problem. If your have any system monitoring tools then try them. If your CPU is too hot it may slow down the processing speed. If that is the case try adding more fans into your system or you can get fans that sit on your PCI slot and blow out air through your PCI slot. Also try cleaning your CPU fan and heatsink from dustbunnies with compressed air. That helps a lot temperature-wise. But remember not to damage your motherboard while doing the above things such as cleaning the heatsinks. Placing the PCI fans next to your AGP slot might give the best results as your VGA might produce more heat than your CPU and get the chassis temperature high. Hope i helped you a bit :-)


I think adding more RAM will infact speed up your browsing speed because Internet explorer uses lots of memory.

My Opinion >> Why not just go for a cheap ADSL? :-) 512k dsl is the most convenient one for me and it is cheap.
It will cost you a litle but you will be ok.
You can by with less than 200 € :
2400+ AMD Athlon,
ASUS Mainboard &
256 DDR 266Mhz.
Microsoft is beta testing there version of SpyWare removal tool / application...

Note bad, download for free

In many case's the reason for slow performance is the O/S is riddled with spybot's etc.

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