Internet accessible but ridiculously slow

jnri used Ask the Experts™

I am looking at computer for a friend and I am having a problem with the internet speed.  He got some kind of virus, at least from the symptoms he told me about it seems like it was a virus.  He formatted his hard drive and re-installed window XP Home.  It is currently at service pack 1.

I downloaded AVG virus scan, Spybot, and adaware to my machine, burned a cd and loaded these to his system.  I ran them all, defragged his hard drive (not really necessary but I felt it couldn't hurt).

Now his system is pretty clean and it now can access the internet.  I actually downloaded the newest virus pack from AVG through his machine.

The problem is it is downloading at like 15K per minute.  Obscenely slow.

The machine is a pentium 4 running at 2 Ghz, it only has 256 MB ram and a 40 MGB HD but its good enough for what he needs it for.
As I mentioned it is at windows XP home service pack 1.  

The built in ethernet card is an INTEL PROSET II 10/100 VE, When I run the diagnostic test it passes all 5.  The driver is an older version ( but I don't know if I should try to update that before I get the machine up the to most recent service pack updates

Despite being able to access the internet (although very slowly) and passing the diagnostic, the event log has the following error:
"Does not support the configuration supplied"

I have cable internet and my machine screams on the net.  both of these machine are connected through a linksys router.

I appreciate any help and if I omitted any info that you need please just let me know.

Thanks in advance.

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Acutally 256 MB of RAM for XP is on the low side.  I would recommend 512 and would expect to see some improvement with that upgrade.  How much free hard drive space?  You have a big drive but I hope it has at least 5GB of free space.

Do a couple of different speed tests.  Don't just rely on the speed reported during one download.  DSL Reports has one.  2Wire has another that is good.  Then compare the results.

What programs are loaded up when the system starts?  Let me know if you want some steps on how to check this.

I hope this helps but let me know the results.  Let me know if you have any questions or need more information.



the computer I am writing about can't even load a webpage.. It manages to access the web through programs like AVG's virus software or simply pinging but when IE tries to load a pagew i get 'site found' 'opening page' then the green progress bar will actually fill up but the page never actually loads.  So checking the speed is not an option.

The drive has plenty of space left, well over 20 Gig

When I run MSCONFIG and review the startup programs there is nothing even remotely suspicious, and very few programs at all.  When I check the task manager there are only 25 processes running including the session of IE  I have running.

Hope that helps




I have run a memory test using ULTIMATE BOOT's memory check utility.  It came up clean after 6 passes.  I ran the standard windows XP disk error check (chkdsk)  and  it cam up clean also.

So.. No viruses that AVG can find, no memory probs, no disk probs

Thanks again
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addendeum 2:

I have upped the memory to 512mgb and I have updated the ethernet card's driver's to the most recent version. System run's much zippier (is that a word?) but the system still refuses to load a webpage.

I am stumped.

Thanks for the addendeums.  I figured you would see a difference in system performance with the memory upgrade.

So you don't get any web pages now?  I understood that it was just slow web speeds before.  Please clarify which it is.

Have you tried swapping ethernet cables and also ports with those used by your "screamingly" fast computer?  When the computer connects does the notification area/system tray show the connection and speed?  What is it?

Run "ipconfig /all" (no quotes) at a DOS prompt.  Are there extra connections listed or any other type of entry?  Compare the settings for gateway and DNS servers to those on your computer.  Let me know the results.  The ip's should be very similar but please confirm.

In similar situations as a last resort I have uninstalled the adapter from the Device Manager and then restarted the computer.  I don't know if we are at that point yet though and can give you details if needed.

Let me know the results of this.  Also let me know if you have any questions or need more info on any step.
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What about safe mode with networking? Any improvement?
I agree w B0lsc0tt s swapping cable with the fast pc idea.. that will rule out the router..

if that dont work its something with the slow pc..

have u tried clearing the internet cache/temp internet files under tools/options... in I.E??

also have u tried another browser? like mozilla?

do the machines have the same DNS? (if not set em the same)

could you try disabling the antivirus for a minute and reload the page then (to see if the av program is blocking.. I have found norton internet security has created similar probs.. so not sure about avg)

have u tried any winsock fixes? (google)


I did try firefox and I was able to load the google front page with that while I.E. just times out.

I have fixed the problem though since my last post.  I would still like to find out if there was a way to fix it without doing what I did though however it is no longer a priority.

I picked up a $10 airlink 10/100 ethernet card at a local PC shop and installed it.  When I plugged in the cable to this new card everything worked great.

When I look at other peoples computers (and even my own) I am always hesitant to blame in on the hardware since in my experience it almost never is the hardware.  That is, or course, unless it's OBVIOUSLY the hardware.  I mean when the power supply smokes then melts I feel confident that the power supply is the problem, when the disk drive makes a noise like a 15 year old learning to drive  a stick shift I am ok saying "i think your drive is gone" etc.  

Am I wrong to think that he on board port wouldn't malfuntion in a way that would slow it down by a factor of 100?  To me it is the kind of component that should either work or it shoudn't

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Top Expert 2011

I have seen alot of them just stop working "right". Especially when you are around a lot of PC's that use the on board products. So it doesnt surprise me in the least.....

They can partially fail and cause all kinds of problems similar to what you had.  I agree with JohnB6767.  Although you are correct to not blame hardware first it has been my experience that most hardware failures aren't obvious (i.e. smoking, noises, etc).  I'm glad it is working now and that we could help.

Let us know how you want to close this if you don't have follow up questions.
sounds funny. you installed a new nw card and then its IE loads fine.. can you reinstall the old network card to see if you still have the same prob? maybe a corrupt nw card driver (old one).. I dont think its hw. but I guess anything IS possible..

Joe RudSystems Administrator

Possible old card was set to wrong network speed, like 10Mbps half duplex.  

Or like Craig_200X says - possible bad driver.

Installing new NIC and software/drivers would certainly fix either issue
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