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Elton BrownFlag for Canada

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XP OS running slowly.

I am working on a computer that the start up times are unacceptable. It is a DELL Vostro 200. The computer runs slowly. The space on the hard drive used is under 50 percent. I've used Spy Sweeper, AVAST, and several other scanners that found a few things, nothing big. The OS is XP SP3. Sometimes I think that maybe it is the SP3 upgrade that is causing the problem - its just a gut feeling...

Any suggestions or comments are welcome!  
Avatar of dbrunton
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Disable anti-virus and see what that does.
If the hard disk is IDE check in Device Manager what the IDE Channel --> Advanced Settings --> Transfer Mode is.  If it is PIO mode then it should be UDMA.
Check what is getting loaded on Startup.  Use msconfig at the command prompt and see what is happening there.
Avatar of DenBro

First, wht are the specs of your machine.  Next, if you have not rebooted in awhile the computer will slow dow.  Finally, if you suspect spyware you can also try spybot search and destroy.  It will find most of what other spyware programs miss.
If you are reasonably sure of no malware, check the following:

1. XP SP2 runs fine in 512Mb of memory. Upgrade to SP3 needs 1Gb or more and will run like a slug in 512Mb.
2. Look in the main user folder (docs and settings) for temporary files and delete temporary files.
3. Open Internet Explorer and set the Cache (Tools -> Options) to 50Mb. Default used to be 1Gb and will drag the system down. Delete temporary internet files.
4. Empty the recycle bin.
5. Run Disk Cleanup (Accessories -> System)

When all done, run disk defrag (will take some time). ... Thinkpads_User
Here's a great article written by Lifehacker:

Also, chances are you have a lot of things running under "msconfig" under startup.

This takes up a lot of resources and doesn't let you breathe easy with limited RAM.

Or you could do like the majority of us, and just re-install the entire OS after backing up your computer onto an external hard drive.

Dale Harris
1.       Go to windows task manager by typing [control, alt, delete]
2.      Then click on [process tab] and goto click on [view] tab
3.      Make sure [pid] and [cpu] usage is checked
4.      Identify the process with the a high percentage of cpu time (which could be your culprit)
5.      Make note of the [pid]
6.      Troubleshoot program or .exe by right clicking on it and [ending it] or [setting priority].
Download winpatrol at . Look at your startup items in both windows and IE helpers (or similar). Delete all the junk that starts up when your computer starts and reboot.

Dell and other computer companies are notorious for filling your computer with their startup programs. Most of which do very little.

I have been using this tool for many years.

Also delete C:\Temp\*.* and C:\Windows\Temp\*.*

And finally, Go to Add/Remove and delete any unused programs.
Avatar of Elton Brown


I did check the transfer rate it is set to UDMA
I've tried the software you suggested. It didn't find anything.
The computer is using XP SP2.
Deleted all temp files
Open Internet Explorer and set the Cache (Tools -> Options) to 150Mb. Rebooted the computer didn't see much change.
Cleared out the recycle bin
Ran disk cleanup
cdplayer - Up top (first post) it says SP3.  How much memory is in the machine? ... Thinkpads_User
Amount of memory this computer has?
What problems did Avast and etc find?
Get RAMPage and see how much memory is free after startup.  Set RAMPage to be in the taskbar on startup.
Info for you:

      3328 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 (build 2600)
1.87 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo
64 kilobyte primary memory cache
4096 kilobyte secondary memory cache
64-bit ready
Multi-core (2 total)
Not hyper-threaded

Great program!
Here is the info I gathered from the software:
Total ram: 2048m
Free RAM: 2048m
Total page: 0
Total virtual 2048m
Free Virtual: 2110m
I take it that the numbers displayed above are a good thing?
Thanks for the update. You have enough memory to run any Service Pack for XP.

Consider the following:  SP2 is a re-make of XP. Try re-installing SP2 and then move on to SP3. Try defragmenting the hard drive (not answered above).

Now, XP is a simple 32-bit OS and will not use all the power you are providing it. So if you do consider reinstll, you might consider upgrading to a newer operating system. ... Thinkpads_User
The Free Virtual is: 2014
I don't think you've got a swap file.

Can you check your Total Page and Free Page?

See and for the last picture check that System Managed Size is selected.

The suggestions here are very good, but I would start by identifying "how" the computer is slow.  For example, is the hard drive running nearly all of the time (as evidenced by the hard drive light being on most of the time)?  Is CPU utilization high when it seems slow (view that in Task Manager)?

It is also not clear (to me, at least) from your description whether this is just an issue of it taking too long to boot (and then works fast) or if it is slow after it is fully (hard drive activity pretty much stopped) booted.
Will I have to un-install SP2? I can roll it back. Is that required? Can I lay SP2 over the current version of SP2?
I've defragged drive C.  
The client will pull their hair out if I switch them from XP to Win7...
You can re-install SP2 over SP2 if the errors are not too bad. I have done that (albeit a long time ago).

... Thinkpads_User

The CPU ulilzation report from the Task Manger is about 3% when nothing is running.
The computer is taking too long to boot and the programs i.e. Iinternet Explore or Firefox browsers take too long to display themselves once requested.
Thanks for the information thinkpads_user!!
I will reinstall SP2 over the current verison.
There is a swap file. The size is 2048mb. Maybe the size of the swap file is incorrect for a computer that has 4GB of memory...
I forget the formula...
Another thought here is that XP 32-bit only supports 3Gb of memory. It cannot run 4Gb. You might try removing a module and see if it runs any faster with 2Gb.  ... Thinkpads_User
>>  Maybe the size of the swap file is incorrect for a computer that has 4GB of memory...

Nope, that's adequate for the job.

Whose hard disk and model number is in this machine?
Can you define the slowness?

How long does it take to boot?

You originally siad that it had SP3, then you said it had SP2.  Which is it?

What anti-virus are you running?  Does it have a boot time scan?

How much RAM?
Which CPU?
How big of a hard drive?

>>Can you define the slowness?
When requesting the Internet Explore browser it can take up to sixty seconds for the browser to appear.

How long does it take to boot?
It takes about 5 mins to boot.

You originally siad that it had SP3, then you said it had SP2.  Which is it?
Sorry about that the OS is using SP2 not SP3

AVAST has not found anything significant. Yes it has found and removed a few Trojans using the Boot-Time scan.
IMHO 5 minutes to boot is not long at all.

IE taking 60 seconds to start is a bit long, however what do you mean by "start."  

Is that for the default page to fully display?  If so, what is your default page?
When IE takes 60 seconds to load, does CPU utilization go high for a significant amount of time?  If so, how high and how long?

When loading IE, during how much of the 60 seconds is the hard drive light on?

Have you tried running IE in the no add-ons mode?

Does IE take a long time to load if you have no home page or if you try to display a local html file?
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I've removed SP3. It appears that the computer is faster. Thank you dmitrijz!
--> I've removed SP3.

What?  I am very, very confused.  

In your original post you stated you were running SP3.

Then in post 34427662 and in 34427753 you stated you were running SP2.

So in post 34428053 I specifically asked which one (SP2 or SP3) you were running and in post 34429797 you stated:

     "Sorry about that the OS is using SP2 not SP3"

So, please explain to me how you removed SP3 when you stated it was not installed?