Why is this laptop SO SLOW?

I have an old Toshiiba  Tecra M2-S430.  It had several viruses.  I have worked for 4 days to insure that they are all  gone. I used many trojan removing tools. I used professional virus-removing tools.  I assume the laptop is clean.  I believe the following statement:  "You can never trust your computer again, once you've had a virus."  This computer runs WIN XP SP3.

So---the computer looks virus free now, but it is very slow and will freeze once in a while.  It can not run more than one app at once.  laptop only has 512 mb of SD RAM pc133.  As I was using it, I noticed that the volume kept getting lower and lower until there was none.  

MY QUESTION IS:---(A)Believing the viruses are gone, with the info I have provided, can any one tell what is causing this computer to be so slow?  (B)Is it time for the lady to get a new laptop(which she cannot afford) ??

 I am afraid to try to boost the memory because it is so expensive and I do not have any lying around AND what if that is NOT the issue that is causing the slow-down.  AND I do not wish to format and reinstall for the same reason, What if reinstalling does not fix this.??  

I guess my REAL question is what do I tell the owner of this laptop?

Thanks to the experts , in advance.
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Wipe it and start again.  There could be untold issues with the machine still that you can't see (rootkit for example).

Yes it's a pain for you, but at least when you give it back, you know it will be healthy.
Probably is not fully cleaned up.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
Ok for a start, if a computer is badly affected by malware then in 99% of cases is far more efficient just to copy off what data you can, zap the thing and start again, that way you don't
a) Waste hours of time doing what may be impossible anyway
b) Miss something which will come back and re-infect the system the moment you have finished
c) Build up unnecessary labour costs due to (re-installing takes 2-4hrs max - virus removal ... well who knows)

The only way to be absolutly sure its virus free is to repartition, reformat and reinstall.

This machine is only very modestly powered 512mb of RAM and a 133 processor means that its going to struggle with all but the least demading applications, however, the cost of upgrading the memory or anything else is just not worthwhile. The price of laptops has hit rock bottom, and you can buy a new one for the price of the upgrade.
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You can try running combofix if you haven't already and see if that finds anything if not then I would suggest wiping it and starting over.  But by the sounds of it the laptop is pretty old it may just be time to update it to a newer model.

Combofix can be downloaded here:

"I believe the following statement:  "You can never trust your computer again, once you've had a virus."  This computer runs WIN XP SP3."

I dont believe that at all....

You need to take a look at a few things....

Tried another profile?
CPU/Processor Usage ok?
Commit Charge (bottom of the Task Manager) ok?
HDD ok? Any errors in the Event Log under the source DISK/NTFS/ATAPI etc.?

It is very common to uncover "previously hidden" underlying problems with an extensive removal of virii. If you are 100% sure the virii are gone, then run the following.....

Use this to trim out startup items that are nt needed. As for the services, the following website can assist in trimming those down as well.

http://www.blackviper.com - Awesome site for learning about what services are REALLY needed...


sfc /purgecache
sfc /scannow

chkdsk (granted you have a backup. Notice there are no switches)...
If it comes back asking to run in normal mode, enter chkdsk /f /r and hit yes to run it at reboot, and then reboot. The report is listed under the Application Log, in the Event Viewer under the source "Winlogon"


Need to make sure there are no hidden inbound/outbound connections

Process Explorer

Need to make sure you dont see new rogue processes spawning that have hidden windows.

Try a NEW user account on the machine. Might have uncorrectable profile corruption on the current user

Update to the latest SP, and complete all needed updates

This should be enough to get you started......


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Donnie616Author Commented:
WOW!  Thanks to all of you.  I think you are ALL correct in what you had to say.  And I agree with all of it.  ComboFix was done days ago.

About wasting time, that is true. But I am really an intermediate beginner in computing.  An Expert, by NO means.  SO--- If I have the time to spare, I like to spend the time troubleshooting  (and learning).

A lot of the above mentioned stuff I already know about but am not experienced enough to remember to do it. ie:  SFC /scannow.  Purgecache is a new one for me. I also forgot that ""blackviper" has been in my bookmarks for a long time.  That said,  I really got a lot from johnb's comment.  That alone will take me a day or more, but  off I go.  I am going to be doing some diagnosing and then i will return.

Donnie616Author Commented:
BTW, what numbers are good in the "commit charge.  How do I read it and understand whether the numbers are good or bad?  that is something I have always wanted to kmnow, but never asked.
Ideally, I like to be around 250mb-300mb on startup.... MY machines start at less than 200 for XP..... Personal preference again, as I know what I need and dont need on a regular basis.....

Commit charge

As long as you dont see the first one going up too high, too fast, or even going up high over time (indicative of a memory leak), youre ok.

If it starts up higher, you can use BlackViper to trim out needed startup items/services, so you can start off with a lower value...... Will be more beneficial for the user's overall experience.

The more free resources on startup the better.....
Its also good to keep as a baseline over time.....
Donnie616Author Commented:
Excellent.  tthank you sir.  The laptop is much faster already and I have done only a few of your first steps  i actually told the lady that I "might NOt be able to" make this PC any faster because it was too old.  Then I came to EE.  Man, what if you were not here I would probably been reformatting now.  

I am headed to blackviper now to learn even more and eliminate crap that is going on.

thank you so very much for the really helpful information.  Ill be back.

BTW, about 3 weeks ago, there was a survey on EE.  Even tho I haven't seen you in a while, i remembered you from before and I listed you as one of my top 5 Experts, with wilcomp, nobus and others.  You certainly have proved that I was correct today.  So Far--But it is never over til its over.

>>>> As I was using it, I noticed that the volume kept getting lower and lower until there was none.  

What do you mean by 'volume'? Free memory or disk volume?

Note, beside that a heavily infected computer may have still unsolved issues which could slow it down  (assume there is still a bot which tries to connect to "mama" or which scans the computers for installling malware), the slowness also could have normal reasons. For example if your disk is full (or nearly full) or is heavily fragemented. You can try to defrag it with the normal XP tool. The free diskspace can be checked in the Explorer by looking at the properties of your C drive. It should be at least 20 percent free. It also can be that too many processes were started. Start the task manager after reboot and check all the processes (it shouldn't be more than 20 to 25) whether you really need them (type the name of the process into google and search. They will tell you how much is the risk taht it is malware or under which circumstances you need it or not). Then download a tool like tweakui which allows you to clean (and reduce) the list of processes to a reasonable minimum. Finally check your event viewer (eventvwr.exe) whether it has red entries. If for example the disk controller has a problem that can be a reason for slowness. You would find many error events in the event list, maybe hundred times the same message within a little timeframe. If so, only a new board would/could help what would not make sense for such an old laptop. Instead you only could/should try to save your data (no programs!!!) e. g. via usb and buy a new laptop.
Have you checked the registry for errors?
Have you checked to make sure all of the machine's drivers are compatible with XP SP3?
Have you cleaned out old restore points that are (presumably) infected and wasting space which can reduce the machine's ability to manage temporary data and memory thus bogging it down?


Also, defragging helps quite a bit. If the system has to stitch together important system files from all different sectors of your hard drive then you're wasting a lot of time for the most commonly accessed information on your hard drive (heck, defragging after a fresh install with a good defrag program [one that organizes files according to how they're loaded by the system {eg. boot files first, then important system files, then things like explorer and driver utils, then the program files directory, then user files, then other stuff} like defraggler {freeware, from the maker of CCleaner, another really good program, checks registry, dumps system cache and frees up space, also has an option to wipe free space which is not a great idea if you need to restore recently deleted data, but, whatever}]).

Also, if you check out http://forums.majorgeeks.com/forumdisplay.php?f=48 the three posts are actually quite useful, and are a good way to remind yourself (I personally have a problem remembering to do most of these things).
Donnie616Author Commented:
<<Have you checked to make sure all of the machine's drivers are compatible with XP SP3?>>that is what concerns me right now.  how would I know.  

If this keeps up, the points will be split upto 7 or 8 different experts.  thanks for the good stuff and all the ideas in my head.  

just checked in, not expecting to see anything.  WOW again.
back to work.
Appreciate the survey answers...  :)
Well be checking back in once you get through some further testing/tweaking....
I can't think of any utils that auto-check drivers, but you could go through device manager and manually update every driver...

I suggest you do it while working on something else, since each driver is 5 clicks and some waiting... Really though, it's very unlikely that it's a driver conflict, and it's very time-consuming to check, so it's up to you if you want to go through it. I like to do tedious stuff like that while watching something entertaining on TV... But I usually just back up stuff and reinstall the OS. Of course, updates can take a while too.

It's up to you. Good luck ^_-
Hello Donnie, as you know - i always make sure the basics are ok (Ram and disk) by running a diag.
but look also if the disk is running in DMA mode, not PIO  : (another one for your text file - lol) :
http://winhlp.com/node/10                              Slow system PIO mode no DMA
and of course - check if the cpu and ram are correctly seen in bios and windows !
Have fun !
Donnie616Author Commented:
Hi nobus. thanks----the file is growing.  2 of my "top 5" in one question.  How lucky could I get?

Anyway, this laptop is really running well. i believe i am finished.  Not sure exactly what did the trick.  more than one thing, for sure.  Most important is what I learned yesterday.  I like to give points for that sometimes.  I do not want to offend anyone. I just have to distribute the points in a fair manner. I will be back later for that.  i have had more difficult choices than this one, in the past.  
Thanks to all.
Donnie616Author Commented:
OK  this was hard but the bottom line is that I repaired this computer by doing only what johnb6767 advised.  The laptop left here as fast as if it came out of the box new. I tried to make it slow down and freeze.  Of course I was able to, but that was really only because of the measly 512 MB of antique style RAM.   I was amazed, as was the owner.  I only got to 100% CPU after opening IE,  running an AV and finally it reached 100% when I added the installation of Adobe v. 9.3. BUT it still did not freeze.  just got very slow, which is pretty good for this relic wth that amount of ram isn't it?  She said it took 15 minutes to load IE.  Thanks to johnb----, that time is down to 10-12 seconds wirelessly.  She is happy! And I really learned a lot from all contributors, but in the end, although I learned much from you all, what fixed the PC was johnb's troubleshooting guide.  I knew about 90% of them but just do not know how to apply the utilities i have   I learned that today.  I actually have TCPView and Process Explorer on my personal PC's.  I just don't know how to use them yet.

All other knowledge gained here was already tried or I had known about the diagnostics earlier.  they did not apply today.  Nobus, thank you for another great site to add to my "Repair Sites" folder, many of which are your recommendations.
Donnie616Author Commented:
Once again you went above and beyond answering the question, adding little sub-topics in, like "Commit Charge", when you did not have to.  that is why you rank high among my favorite Experts.

Thanks again.
I appreciate the kind words... Thats what makes it so nice to come offer help....  :-)

Process Explorer guide for newbies - (no offense on the 'Newbie' in the title)

The built in TCPView help should probably be sufficient, as it isnt quite as complex as PE.....

Donnie616Author Commented:
Thanks again, No offense taken  
see you Donnie!
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