General Question

Zuma's avatar

My computer is inexplicably slow and seems to just stop for no apparent reason. What can I do about it?

Asked by Zuma (5908points) May 8th, 2009

I am running Windows XP Service Pack 3 on an HP Pavilion PC with a 2.13 GHz CPU and 2 GB of RAM (now past its warranty period). I have DSL which I leave connected to the Internet most of the time. It too seems very, very slow.

My computer seems to just space out or slow to a crawl. I have tried uninstalling a lot of unnecessary stuff, which helped a little bit. I have System Mechanic Pro which I use to diagnose and fix things like registry errors, fragmented files, Internet clutter, and all the usual suspects of slow performance.

When I look at Windows Task Manager, the CPU doesn’t seem to be particularly active during these “take a dump” sessions; in fact, it is usually around 10% or less.

Rebooting doesn’t seem to help much, and I try to avoid it because that is very s-l-o-w—i.e., on the order of 20 minutes to shut down and power back up to where I was.

Sometimes it takes several seconds for the menu to come up when I right-click; other times it comes up instantly.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

17 Answers

sandystrachan's avatar

Maybe a virus , have you cleaned your internet history and cookies etc..
Could be you just need to configure it for performance and internet does System Mechanic perform such tasks ? Try a full scan of everything . delete files you don’t need any more or save them to an external drive.

Ivan's avatar

Get yourself a better operating system.

sandystrachan's avatar

It has nothing to do with the great windows/mac race its to do with a simple clean up of the hard drive even a de-frag will help you

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Go to “task manager” and check which process is taking up all your memory.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Use msconfig to selectively disable your startup programs and services until you find the one that’s killing your machine. It’s most likely something that is trying to communicate with a server.

J0E's avatar

This should do the trick.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I pretty sure the person asking this question isn’t interested in moving to Ubuntu or Linux of any sort.

J0E's avatar

Either was I…until I tried it.

Zuma's avatar

Yes, yes, viruses all checked, Internet cookies and clutter all gone, disk is defragmented, everything obvious has been fully scanned, which is why I said my computer seems INEXPLICABLY slow.

Changing to a new operating system is not a helpful suggestion at all, since it doesn’t explain why my system is not working as it should, nor does it necessarily fix what is wrong. It’s like saying “If your Buick isn’t running right, go buy a Toyota.” Great idea if you’ve got nothing but time and money and don’t care if your shit gets trashed in the process.

System Mechanic offers a bunch of optimizing options, all of which have been tried to no good effect.

@The Compassionate Heretic
The iexploerer is the one that takes up the most from anywhere between 88k to over 360k, depending on how long and complicated the session is.

Sounds promising, although I suspect the problem is something that kicks in later, since performance degrades the more windows I have open or the things I have going on. I do a lot of posting online; so I am either automatically or continually logged onto a bunch of sites. It’s difficult to tell.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@MontyZuma First thing you should do is backup all your important data. If you don’t have one yet, you really should have an 8GB USB Flash drive. If you have movies and large media that go beyond 8gb start burning dvd’s of the stuff you want to keep.

After you’re absolutely sure you have all your important data backed up on external media, then take your HP Recovery CD and just run the HP recovery program for your PC. Or if all you have is the XP CD, just reinstall the Operating System.

It’s drastic but consider the time involved. You could be struggling through this slowness for a week while looking for answer. Or it could just be a single saturday afternoon deal with restoring your computer to it’s factory state.

steve6's avatar

Back up everything you can’t replace, format the hard drive, restore with the restore disks provided. Some companies require you to burn your own restore disks so do that first if you haven’t already. After all this you will have a new blazing fast computer. XP SP3 with two gigs of RAM is very good. It’s what I use for my desktop. You could put Vista but you need at least three gigs of RAM so I would stick with XP. Good luck.

prasad's avatar

Try deleting possibly all desktop icons, this frees some space for RAM.
It seems you’ve tried all other possible options.
You’ve cleared internet cookies et al. Nonethless, try this: Start menu->Run->%temp% and hit enter. Delete whatever is there in it.
Don’t forget to empty recycle bin (use shift+delete if you want to delete something permanently without throwing it in recycle bin).
Alas, format your hard drives as @steve6 has suggested.

dynamicduo's avatar

Sounds like you could use a reinstall of Windows. It needs to be reinstalled every few years, even if you keep it precise and clean, it still lags and bogs itself down with system files and registry edits that gradually cause a comp to slow to molasses speeds. You could also use more RAM, 2 gigs is fine but 4 gigs is better. But the reason I suggest reinstalling is because of the 20 minute start up/shut down time… that is 100% completely wrong and should never happen. If after a brand new XP installation it still has that problem, I would then think it’s a hardware issue, and we can troubleshoot from there.

@prasad, I’m sorry to say that you are wrong. Desktop icons does not free up space for RAM. Neither would emptying the recycling bin or deleting temp files have any effect on performance, unless @MontyZuma‘s hard drive was completely 100% full.

Zuma's avatar

Thanks dynamicduo, steve6, heretic and others.

Molasses speeds is what I’ve got.

I assume that reformatting my drives, reinstalling windows, and using the restore disks are all different things, although one might include the other. Can you elucidate a bit?

Am I going to have to reinstall all my programs as well? Isn’t this going to wipe out all my settings and preferences (in which case, isn’t this more than a Saturday afternoon thing)?

I have two hard drives. If I backup all my stuff on the second (D:) drive, could I do the system restore thing on my C: drive and have it come out okay?

One of the problems I foresee is that my old XP disks are Service pack 2 and probably won’t install over service pack 3.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

First of all, yes back up all your data to your D:.
From here on out, use your D: as a storage container. This way, you have your OS drive and your data drive. If your OS fails, all your data is on D: and you can blow away the C: with little risk.

As for the options discussed here’s the breakdown:

Formatting your hard drive is an option when installing from the XP CD. You will have the opportunity during installation to repartition and format your hard drive. This will wipe out ALL data on your C: drive. Your D: will not be touched unless you specifically told XP to install on the D:. There is no chance of this happening by accident. Make sure everything you need is backed up. For this process yes you will have to reinstall all your programs.

Reinstalling Windows is also called a “repair”. When you boot from the XP CD and choose to install Windows, you will have two options:
1. New Install
2. Repair an existing installation.
#2 is the thing to try first if you don’t want to reinstall your programs. This will write an installation of your OS directly over the top of your old install. All your data and programs will remain intact in this process. If it’s still unbearably slow after this, then go with plan #1.

The “Recovery CD” is a CD that comes with most pre-assembled PC’s (aka your HPs, Dells, Toshibas etc…). It contains all the preloaded software that originally was installed on the computer. This process will likely repartition your C: and all data will be removed in the process. The end result of this process is that your computer will have all the software on it that it originally shipped with.

Don’t worry about the XP SP2 cd. If you reinstall over the top of the current OS, just apply SP3 afterwards from Windows Update, but it will not likely be necessary.

Zuma's avatar



This sort of thing never turns out well for me. I always lose the the product ID, proof of purchase, or activation codes from my downloaded software, or I my lose my bookmarks, e-mails, my settings, or the contents of my password manager.

It seems like most of my programs are seldom very clear about where they save your files and your automatic backups. Every once in a while one of my disks fills up with accumulated backups and I have to write to the company to find out where they are so I can delete them.

Response moderated (Spam)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther