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Very slow dell dimension 4600c

Posted on 2008-11-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hello,

I have a friend's dell dimension 4600c and it is running running incredibly slow.When I first got it, the power supply was dead so I have since replaced the power supply. It was given to her by a friend recently and she didn't care about any of the data so I decided to just go ahead and format and reinstall with XP. The windows xp setup takes 30 minutes to an hour to copy files to the hard drive after it finishes the format and then 30 minutes to an hour to pull up the spot where you insert the product key. Once I get it installed I expect it to be just as slow before the format.  I have ran hiren's boot cd and checked all of the hardware and nothing comes back with errors. All of the fans are running. I have tried swapping ide cables out. I have tried swapping the ram and hard drive. Nothing seems to help.....any ideas guys?

Thank you,
Tim


PS: the specs are Intel P4 processor, 384mb of ram, 40 GB hdd, dell motherboard, standard cd/dvd rom.
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Question by:diffuser87
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12 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:m3tech
ID: 22864210
Hard drive test, followed by memtest if hard drive test shows no bad sectors. Most manufacturers offer a free tool to test their drives. I would recommend the bootable cd image over windows based testing software.

Also, Seagate's drive test works great on all manufacturer's drives. For the memtest, go with Microsoft's memtest (bootable cd) and run the extended test (press T after it loads) overnight. Sometimes ram has to heat up to show signs of failure (many hours under stress for good test results).
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by:m3tech
ID: 22864220
Just out of curiousity... Did the Hirens cd seem slow? I don't beleive Hirens is completely legal and haven't used it myself, but if it doesn't load itself to the hd and it seems to be running at normal performance it would indicate possible hd problems as well.
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Author Comment

by:diffuser87
ID: 22864244
I have tried hiren's boot cd and the ultimate boot cd as well. The both run pretty fast compared to the windows setup. I have not tried a linux boot cd yet, that will be next on the list. I have ran multiple tests of the hard drive, even swapped hard drives and the ide cables. I ran memtest as well and it came back clean. Also tried swapping the ram with known good ram and I have the same slow results. It is a truly perplexing problem...
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m3tech earned 500 total points
ID: 22864265
I apologize, I though you said you hadn't tried swapping drives, etc. Sounds like you may have a motherboard issue. First, examine the motherboard for bulging or leaking capacitors...these are a sign of mb problems. Second remove all peripheral devices (modems, floppy, optical, hd, etc) - leave either the cd or hd attached one at a time and try to narrow down the portion of the board that could be causing a problem (ide controller, etc.). Try different IDE ports. Try sata if available.

Right now it seems hard drive access could be the problem and if so probably on the motherboard. You can also boot Linux from cd and run write/read speed test to the drive although I think seagate hard drive test includes this.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 22865556
>>   ultimate boot cd as well. The both run pretty fast compared to the windows setup.  <<   seems you may have a bad cd; try another one, or copy it (it is an original MS one ?)
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Author Comment

by:diffuser87
ID: 22866976
Yes, I have tried two official windows cds. One of the capacitors on the motherboard does have a slight bulge around the top edge. Its near the P1 connector on the motherboard....that might be the cause of it. All of the other ones look fine.
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by:nobus
ID: 22867835
bad capacitors cause strange behaviour...
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Author Closing Comment

by:diffuser87
ID: 31512572
thank you for your help!
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Author Comment

by:diffuser87
ID: 22873242
Going to chalk this one up to a bad capacitor. Right near the P1 connector and from that blown power supply.....who knows right? Thanks guys!
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Expert Comment

by:m3tech
ID: 22873669
Only way to confirm is to test components (cpu / ram / hd / power supply / cdrom) with other hardware. I mentioned cdrom there and had another question - did you complete the install? I just now realized all the stages you mentioned could be slowed waiting on cd access. Install something (windows or otherwise) on the hard drive and see if performance is slower than expected running purely from the hd.
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Author Comment

by:diffuser87
ID: 22873686
It did finally complete the install and it was the same results on harddrive access only. I tried swapping the ide ports as well with no luck.
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by:m3tech
ID: 22873714
Indeed motherboards with capicitor issues can do weird things. These capacitors are responsible for such things as maintaining voltages within the thresholds the integrated circuits and other components require, and acting as mini-surge suppressors.
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