PCs slowing down over time. How do I improve system performance?

From time to time users of our network complain that their PCs are running slower than they used to.  Apart from running a defrag we don't really know what to do.  Is msconfig available on Windows 2000?

Next, what would be really useful is if there were some software that we could run that would tell us exactly what is slowing things down and what we could do to fix it or maybe the software could sort things out itself.  Has anyone used any software that has actually noticably improved their system performance?  I suppose that it is important that any such software does not cause any further software problems as a result of its attempts to clean things up, so we don't want to use anything that we can't trust.

Any suggestions.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.

peparsonsAsked:
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sirbountyConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Disabling unneeded services:
  http://www.blackviper.com/WIN2K/servicecfg.htm
  http://www.techspot.com/tweaks/win2k_services/index.shtml

You might also try running the System File Checker (read more here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=310747)
 To do so,
   Click Start->Run->SFC /Purgecache
   Start->Run->SFC /Scannow

   *You may need your installation source (CD) as this process will replace missing/corrupted drivers on your system.

Failing that, you can try the following method to eliminate items from startup:
  Download MSCONFIG from here: http://www.perfectdrivers.com/howto/msconfig.html and place it in your %systemroot%\system32 folder.

  Click Start->Run->MSCONFIG

  In the Startup tab, start out by disabling everything you're unfamiliar with (or everything if you're unsure).
  Optionally, you can also disable non-Microsoft services from the Services tab.
  If the problem no longer exists after a reboot, then you can narrow it down as one of the items in your
  startup.  To permanently remove these item(s), proceed as follows...

  Click Start->Run->Regedit
  *Be careful when editing the registry as an accidental deletion can render your system inoperable.
  First navigate to the following key in the registry:
   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
   *You might also find RunOnce, RunOnceEx, RunServices, RunServiceOnce or any of these with a trailing dash (-)

  Once found, click File, Export to save a copy of the key before you delete any items (if necessary).
  After the file has been saved, delete items as needed from the right pane.
  Now find the next startup key:
   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
   *You might also find RunOnce, RunServices, RunServiceOnce or any of these with a trailing dash (-)
  Follow the previous procedures to export a copy before deleting items from the right pane.

Clear out your TEMP folders...
  Click Start->Run->%TEMP% <ENTER>
  This is your profile's temporary folder location.  All files can be deleted here, but not the containing
  folder.  Some files may be in use, so an error may be generated but can be ignored.
  Repeat the process with %SYSTEMROOT%\TEMP as well.

And defrag the drive occasionally (I do mine once/month).
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qfrenCommented:
*listening*
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Danny ChildConnect With a Mentor IT ManagerCommented:
If your users have Roaming Profiles under NT4, check the size of these too - they are downloaded by default when they log in.  Later OSs do a better job of only moving *changed* files.

Windows can sometimes be set to keep the Temporary Internet Folders in their Profile area too - move the location of this in Internet Explorer if applicable.  Doesn't hurt to clear out the contents of this too.  

Personally, I also disable all menu animations, personalised menus, whizzy screensavers, custom backdrops, and other clutter.

On the email front, you might want to keep an eye on their configuration - I've come across users with Outlook who have created 7gb PST archives which are more than a little unstable and sluggish!

Spyware checks using the usual candidates can be sensible too.  
Most of the performance checking software / registry cleaners / ram doublers that I've seen just make stuff worse.
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peparsonsAuthor Commented:
Some great answers.  Thank you.

Are we really saying though that no-one has put together any software that takes care of all this for you.....successfully?

PEP
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sirbountyCommented:
There are apps out there that claim to improve your system's performance.
But I'm of the mindset, why pay someone to change the oil in my car, when I can do it myself and safe a few $$.
;)

But, since you may be the type that takes your car in for service... :D

http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/collection/0,collid,1298,00.asp
http://www.tunexp.com/speedupmypc/
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peparsonsAuthor Commented:
OK. OK.  I have to confess to paying someone to service my car recently, to my eternal shame.

Thanks everybody.  Time to divvy things up.
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