Newly installed XP Pro runs slow

This is a Dell Inspiron with a Pentium 4 (2.4 GHz) and 256 KB of memory.  I installed a new XP Pro operating system and then did the following:  installed Avast, CCleaner, Malwarebytes, all Window Updates, Open Office, Google Chrome, Foxit Reader and Revo.  I noticed the system looked to be running slowly.  I then ran WD Lifeguard (extended test), Memtest86 and ran both with no issues.  Malwarebytes ran with no issues and CCleaner did not find anything unusual.  I've also done a defrag of the drive (smallish 20 GB) but this system is intended for a grandchild to use for simple programs and Skype.  

Can someone suggest what else I can do to diagnose why the system is "sluggish"?  Thank you.
tonyadamRetiredAsked:
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BillBondoCommented:
I would try more memory first.
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helpfinderIT ConsultantCommented:
if you mean 256MB RAM, than also this could be bottle neck, necause it is really low for running OS, and you are running also another apps in the background (AV, maybe malwarebytes)
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smckeown777Commented:
A P4 with 256MB ram...too low and too slow to be honest, run it with 1GB and things might move a bit more quickly...its old hardware so 256 is just too little to get a 'usable' performance
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I use 2GB or more in all my P4 machines to get them to run reasonably well.  With only 256MB, your machine will spend most of it's time swapping data and programs back and forth to disk.
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discgmanCommented:
I agree with all the other suggestions to max out the ram according to the motherboard settings. I would also add: check if the hard drive is big enough to handle the storage.
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all of the hardware upgrade suggestions.  I realize that more memory might help some.  The drive is small but the current OS and applications are only taking up about 7 GB.  There is more than enough free space for I expect will be virtually little data storage need in the future.  

I've created a lot of fresh XP Pro installations on systems with only 256 MB of RAM and they just seem to run a lot faster than this one.  I'm inclined to close this question but will leave it open for a few more hours just in case someone has another idea.
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nobusCommented:
>>  installed Avast, CCleaner, Malwarebytes, all Window Updates, Open Office, Google Chrome, Foxit Reader and Revo  <<  do you need ALL these?  i would uninstall Cleaner - MBAM and Revo ; just install it when needed
you can also check event viewer for problems
or try running from a clean boot : run msconfig, and disable all in the startup tab
reboot and test if better
alternatively -  run task manager_select performance tab, and click on resource monitor to check for problems on disk, ram, or cpu

you can also run diags on ram and disk  - they can have problems.
and verify for bulging or leaking capacitors on the mother board too

but i agree that more ram is the best
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sgt_bestCommented:
malwarebytes has a program called startup lite that will stop some of the unnecessary startups

Are there any hardware conflicts in the device manager?
Do you have the latest hardware drivers from Dell?
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
Nobus, (1) if CCleaner, MBAM and Revo are not in MSCONFIG's startup, is there really any value in uninstalling them since they are not brought into RAM until initiated by the user? (2) As I mentioned, I've already run MEMTEST86 and the extended WD Lifeguard disk analysis which both ran clean with no errors.

I will try running a clean boot and will set up the resource monitor to check for problems.

To sgt_best....there are no conflicts in the Dev. Mgr.  I feel certain I have all of the latest drivers.
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nobusCommented:
>>  since they are not brought into RAM until initiated by the user?  << ask yourself what they are supposed to do there; then read  this for more info :
http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_content.php

an easy way to see what it does, is enabling / disabling one and checking in task manager what it does for ram, cpu, and disk usage
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
All start up items have been deselected and I did not see any appreciable difference in execution - post startup.  I am not concerned about the time it takes to get the system running "normally".  I'm concerned about the sluggishness after post startup.  Even just shutting down takes too many seconds for the option window to do the shut down.  

I did check performance and it appears that initiating something like Chrome sends both pages/sec and Avg. Disk Que are very high (near 100) for quite some time.  %Processor seems to be fine.

Thanks to nobus for the URL (pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_content.php.  It is very good reading.
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nobusCommented:
in your post, i did not see you installed all the drivers for this pc
did you?  or did i miss something?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
initiating something like Chrome sends both pages/sec and Avg. Disk Que are very high
Because Windows is swapping things out from memory to disk to make room for the new program.  If you maxed out your RAM in that machine, that would happen less often and your machine would run noticeably faster.  

If there is enough RAM, Windows XP will use up to 512MB.  Chrome on this Windows XP machine (with 2.5GB of RAM) uses 250MB to load the first page.  I also have Firefox running and it takes 195MB.  My current total memory usage is 901MB, 3.5 times what you have total.  If I only had 256MB, my computer would spend almost all of it's time swapping to and from disk.
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sgt_bestCommented:
Have  you tried uninstalling AVG & Malwarebytes?  MB installs the trial version of Pro which is full time protection.  Maybe they are double checking everything.
I agree with the several posts above that you do not have enough RAM for an updated version of XPSP3 and updated versions of the programs installed.  Maybe in the past it was good enough for your application but I have upgraded several PC's from 512 to 2Gig because they were slow.  Startup and shutdown will also be a lot faster.
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
OK....you guys have convinced me.  I ordered a couple of 512 MB DIMMs.  Should have them by Friday.  Will let you know.
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nobusCommented:
tony - did you install all drivers?
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
I installed 1 GB and it helped a great deal.  Thanks to all.
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