Slow XP SP3 Desktop

  Legslip 00:02 24 Jan 2012

My pals Aries takes about 5mins to complete a boot and is generally doggin (excuse the expression) in general use. The specification is Pentium 4, 3.00Ghz & 2Gb Ram. The HD is partitioned as follows\:

C; Total size 60gb - Used 11gb (Windows is on this sector) Data D; Total size 35Gb - Used 33Gb Restore E; Total size 20gb - Used 14Gb

I have run Superantispyware & Malewarebytes and found no problems. Done a Disk cleanup & defragged. It is running Norton 360 which may possibly be a bit onerous for the spec.

Any thoughts on why it is so slow and what may possible be done to speed up? Can't install anymore RAM. Mbd is at capacity.

  birdface 00:52 24 Jan 2012

Probably Norton running updates or scanning at start up.

Maybe switch automatic updated to manual in services also make sure Windows Defender is disabled and stop it from running also in services.

Has your pal always had Norton if not find out if he removed his old Anti-virus with the proper tool.

  onthelimit1 09:17 24 Jan 2012

I'd also run CCleaner and then in CCleaner tools, Startup, disable everything except the antivirus and see if it make a difference after a reboot.

  Batch 09:25 24 Jan 2012

To give you a target to aim for, my similarly spec'd P4 based system takes about 80 seconds to fully boot. Now, I run a pretty lean machine and you suggest you check for the following:

No unnecessary applications at start-up. It's amazing the sheer number of apps that want to install some little something or other that runs at boot. Most of these are not necessary. An example is Sun Java. If you have it installed, it runs a so called "Quick Starter" at boot so that on the rare occasions that you need Java, it runs more quickly. Thanks, but no thanks, I'd rather wait the extra few seconds on such rare occasions.

Is the HDD IDE or SATA. If your mobo supports SATA, it will be noticeably faster. If you have IDE, is it configured properly (search this forum for Fruit Bat's recommendations on this and many other possible probs that slow systems down).

Failing hard disks can also really slow things down.

Malware of some sort?

  Secret-Squirrel 09:54 24 Jan 2012

Legslip, 2GB for an XP PC is usually more than enough so it's unlikely to be a problem caused by insufficient RAM.

The problem could be caused by a rogue process or two that's hogging the CPU cycles so try this:

Wait for the PC to boot fully and then start all the programs that would normally be open at the same time.

When that's done, start Task Manager, click the "Performance" tab and look at the "CPU Usage" graph on the left. Does it show that the CPU is constantly busy? If so then click the "Processes" tab and click the CPU column heading so that the most active processes are at the top. If you can identify anything suspicious then post back your findings for further advice. Note that "System Idle Process" is the opposite of busy so you can ignore that one.

Unlike the truly dreadful Norton AV products from a few years ago, the later versions are much lighter on system resources so I don't think we can blame Norton 360 for your pal's problems.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 10:05 24 Jan 2012

Some of this you have already done:-

1. Software

a) Clear out all temporary files and folders -- use CCleaner

b) Scan for malware spyware and viruses --Free Anti Spyware :- Malwarebytes Superantispyware

Free Antivirus software MicroSoft Security Essentials Avast

c) Clean the registry -- Use the tool in Crap Cleaner its very safe and also allows you to back up the registry first.

d) Pagefile (Virtual Memory) -- Right click MY Computer - select properties - Advanced tab - Performance - advanced tab - Virtual memory click change, you can put the page file on a different drive (if you have one), click custom size and set Initial size to one and a half times the amount of memory you have fitted i.e. 512MB memory = set to 768MB, set maximum to double your memory amount i.e. 512MB memory = 1024MB click ok. If your hard drive is full and there is not enough room for the pagefile this can slow down, freeze or even cause the PC to crash (restart).

e) Cut down on the programs that load at start up -- Start - Run type msconfig - start up tab- untick everything except for firewall, antivirus and antispyware

and the services that run in the background.

2. Hardware

a) Hard drives /

i) IDE Channels: (Not required if you have SATA drives) Check the transfer rate, you need to have the transfer mode set to DMA not PIO. Right click My Computer - Properties - Hardware - Device Manager - Expand (click the + ) IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers right click Primary Channel - Advanced Settings Tab - If transfer Mode is PIO then follow the instructions at to change.

ii) Check for errors and defrag your hard drives -- My Computer - select drive - properties - tool tab - Error checking / Defragmentation.

ii) If you are using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 it's a good idea to convert your system drive to the NTFS file system if you have not already. In addition to providing numerous security and data recovery improvements over FAT32 (the file system of choice for Windows 9x/ME and XP Home) it can also speed up your system slightly.

In fact, the only real reason for sticking with the FAT32 file system for any of your data is if you have more than one operating system on your PC and the other OS's can only see FAT32 partitions (as would be the case with Windows 98, for example, which is incapable of reading NTFS data).

To convert your drives to NTFS: Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage' From the computer management window, expand storage and select 'disk management.' Using the 'file system' column of the upper pane of this window, you can easily check what file system each of your logical drives is using. Make a note of this information. Now open a command prompt window by going to 'start\run' and typing 'cmd' To convert a disk to NTFS, type 'convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs' So for example, if you were going to convert your C: drive, you would type 'Convert c: /fs:ntfs' at the prompt.

b) Drivers Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware This may seem a bit obvious, but keeping your system's drivers up to date can give both your performance and stability a boost. Video card manufacturers release updates especially often, and these can often give "significant boosts" to gaming performance as video card in question is "optimized."

Don't neglect the other components of your system either. Your motherboard manufacturer may have released newer versions of its Input/output drivers for your board, and sound cards and other peripherals can also benefit from newer software.

c) Memory Your memory could be failing try memtest

Data D; Total size 35Gb - Used 33Gb very little room left on this drive will cause machine to slow when accessing data from this dive. I would be inclined to drop C: to 20Gb and merge the remaining 40gb into D:

  Legslip 18:29 24 Jan 2012

Thanks all and some useful feedback. Won't be able to use ideas for a couple of days as a bit busy but will feedback on progress. Thanks again, LEGSLIP.

  Legslip 23:21 25 Jan 2012

Thanks all and have carried out all guidance but to no avail. I have set MSCONFIG to Diagnostic Startup - load only basic drivers etc but it still takes ages to boot and afterwards hangs like a dog. Only solution I can see is a reformat. However, does anyone consider that a Windows repair may be of value?

  Snrub 02:07 26 Jan 2012

I have a slow XP SP3 desktop and have been struggling to find cause but think I have at last found the prolem. I ran a program HD sentinel today to check the health of the hard drives and found my 'f drive' is running at 5% i.e. on point of failing. I have a spare hard drive so will install this and see if it cures the slow XP. Have you checked your hard drive(s) health?

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