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Old 29-01-07, 17:23
Old_John_McKenna Old_John_McKenna is offline
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Default Help !! My computer is slow !!

A Troubleshooting Guide for Poor System Performance.

Bad behaviour from our computers is a common complaint so it's worth remembering that a few simple checks and a spot of spring cleaning on a regular basis can do wonders for your machine's performance. When we complain of sluggish systems, the complaints usually come in the form of slow response times when opening and closing applications, system freezes and poor internet speeds. It's easy to suspect malware (malicious software) at the first sign of poor performance but there really could be a much simpler reason.

Sometimes our computers will need replacement hardware to rectify such performance issues but more often than not the problems stem from a culmination of minor issues, which if left alone, have a tendancy to develop into more widespread problems.

The steps below will help you troubleshoot some of the most simple causes of poor system performance. What's more, if you perform these steps on a regular basis your machine will benefit long term and prolong it's life in general. Remember, a clean and tidy computer is a happy computer!!

So let's start with some of the basics.....

1. Check your Event Viewer logs

In Windows, an event is any significant occurrence in the system or in a program that requires users to be notified, or an entry added to a log. The Event Log Service records application, security, and system events in Event Viewer. With the event logs in Event Viewer, you can obtain information about your hardware, software, and system components, and monitor security events on a local or remote computer. Event logs can help you identify and diagnose the source of current system problems, or help you predict potential system problems.

Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer. Look in the Application and System logs for errors (signified by a red circle with a white cross). Double-click each of these error symbols to reveal the Event ID number and Source information. Once you have these, you can either Google the relevant details or click here to see if there's a listing with any useful comments from other users with similar issues.

Further info on the Event Viewer can be found here.

2. Is your Hardware up to scratch?

Hard Disk Space

PCs can be slowed down if you do not have enough hard disk space. As a general rule you should have a minimum of 10% empty space on the disk. To check the current space, double click My Computer and look under Hard Disk Drives. If you have a 60gb hard disk you should have at least 6gb of empty space.

If your hard disk is partitioned you may see Local Disk C: and D: (or more) with different sizes. Again each drive needs a minimum of 10% empty space. If you have plenty of space on the D: drive but very little on the C: you can get software that will move some of the empty space from D: to C: There is nothing in Windows XP that can do this job for you.

You may need to consider buying a larger hard disk, a secondary internal hard disk or an external hard disk. The files that take up the most amount of room on a hard disk are, in order of size, downloaded videos, downloaded music and digital photos. Moving them from the C: drive to a new hard disk will help no end.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Random Access Memory is a type of data store used in computers. It takes the form of integrated circuits that allow the stored data to be accessed in any order — that is, at random and without the physical movement of the storage medium or a physical reading head.

The word "random" refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned quickly, and in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data. This contrasts with storage mechanisms such as tapes, magnetic disks and optical disks, which rely on the physical movement of the recording medium or a reading head. In these devices, the movement takes longer than the data transfer, and the retrieval time varies depending on the physical location of the next item.

Source: Wikipedia

As a general rule Windows XP needs a minimum of 512mb, Vista - 1GB and Windows 7 - 1GB (32bit) and 2GB (64bit) of RAM to operate effectively. To check your current amount of RAM, right click on My Computer and choose Properties. Under Computer you will see the speed of your processor (e.g. Pentium 4, 2ghz) and total RAM (e.g. 1024mb)

Any less than the recommended minimums above and Windows will need to allocate space on your hard disk called Virtual Memory. When you run a memory intensive programme Windows will need to access this Virtual Memory. That process is a lot slower and it results in excessive hard disk activity. If your hard disk is also nearly full things will get even slower.

To find out if can can add new RAM to your PC click on this link which will take you to the Crucial web site. Choose 'Scan my System' and let Crucial tell you what you can install.

3. Check your Hard Disk for Errors


This is a small utility that comes with Windows. It can be used to check the condition of your hard disk. To run it go to Start, Run, type CMD in the box and click OK. In the resultant DOS box type CHKDSK C:/f Note the space between CHKDSK and C:

On a hard disk formatted under NTFS you will be told that Chkdsk cannot lock the disk and ask you if you wish to run the utility when you next reboot your PC. You should say yes to this question then restart your computer.

If your hard disk has more than one partition you should repeat the process replacing C: with D: and so on.

Further information on chkdsk commands can be found here.

4. Test the RAM on your Computer for Errors

Faulty RAM is a common complaint and can have serious effects on one's computer ranging from constant "blue screens of death" (BSOD) to complete system failure. Troubleshooting suspect RAM is relatively straight forward though you'll be glad to know. Check out Microsoft's Windows Memory Diagnostic Tests or Memtest86 for full instructions on testing your RAM. If your RAM turns out to be faulty you can find out what type of replacement RAM you need by running any number of online tools such as Crucial's Memory Advisory Tool.

5. Regularly Defragment your Hard Disk

Installing and removing programs, opening and closing applications and general usage will, after time, fragment your hard disk and slow system performance. A fragmented hard disk is much like an unserviced car engine; performance rapidly declines and problems appear thick and fast. Keep the engine regularly serviced though and everything should run a lot smoother. Defragmenting your hard disk will service the inner workings of your machine so that applications open quicker and run more efficiently.

Windows has a built-in Disk Defragmenter which you can open by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Once open, simply click the Analyse button and wait while the utility calculates how fragmented the hard drive is. Then click the Defragment button and wait while the utility works it's magic. You may be best to run the defragmenter when you're not planning to use the computer for a few hours as the Windows version of this utility takes a while to run. Those wanting reduced defragmenting time should consider installing Diskeeper Lite 7.0 which is the free version of the well known Diskeeper defragmenting software.

6. Delete Temp Files and Temporary Internet Files

The more your machine is used the more it will accumulate temp files and temporary internet files. These files are designed to improve system and internet browsing performance in the short term by remembering data such as short cuts to applications and documents or website images previously viewed. The information is stored locally in a temp folder and called upon if present to increase the speed at which you can access the same data in the future. Unfortunately, neglecting to delete these temp files now and again will have the adverse effect and actually slow system performance.

Windows already has a few built-in tools allowing you to clean out those temp files but there are some excellent little free utilities which will do this for you (plus a whole lot more) at the touch of a button. I'll cover both options so you can decide which is easiest for you.

Built-in Windows Tools

Clean your Cache (temp internet files) and Cookies in IE7 & IE8:

Click on Start, then Control Panel, then Internet Options.
In the Internet Options window, select the General tab.
Under "Browsing History" click the Delete... button.
Then under the Temporary Internet Files section, click the Delete Files.

Clean your Cache in Mozilla Firefox (if installed)

From within the browser window click on Tools, then Options.
Click Privacy from the menu on the left side of the Options window.
Then click the Clear button located to the right of each option (History, Cache etc).
Click OK to close the Options window when finished.
*Alternatively, you can clear all information stored while browsing by clicking "Clear All".
A confirmation dialog box will be shown before clearing the information.

Clean other Temporary files + Recycle bin

Click on Start, then Run and type: cleanmgr and click ok.
The cleaning utility will scan your system for files to remove.
When the scan has completed, make sure Temporary Files, Temporary Internet Files, and Recycle Bin are the only things checked.
Press OK to remove them.

Just these simple steps can make internet browsing quicker and programs more responsive.

Free Cleaning Utilites

As I mentioned earlier there are some excellent free little programs for performing general spring cleaning. These programs vary in features but generally speaking clean an awful lot of unwanted clutter from your machine's hard drive. One of the most well known and widely used of these free programs is CCleaner which in the developer's own words is a "freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history". Be sure to unselect the Yahoo toolbar option before installtion if you don't want it.

The program is compatible with IE, Firefox and Opera browsers and has a whole host of additional useful features. If you haven't had a spring clean in a while you'll be amazed at the amount of clutter this program can remove. Upon first use it's a good idea to uncheck the box beside Cookies and the AutoComplete Form History until you've read the CCleaner Beginners Guide so you don't lose your login names and passwords.

The program also has a registry cleaner (the Issues button) which can clear up all manner of loose ends. I personally don't use registry cleaners as I believe they cause more problems than they fix but if you must insist on using one, CCleaner comes with a built-in backup feature for safety should anything be removed in error. I recommend reading the beginners guide before using this particular feature if you're new to registry cleaning.

Another handy free program which cleans out clutter is Atribune's ATF-Cleaner which apart from being extremely simple to use is a standalone utility. The benefit of this being that it doesn't need to be installed to run. The utility is IE and Firefox compatible so useful for the majority of pc users.

7. Keep Windows updated

It goes without saying that installing the latest updates from Microsoft will keep your pc running smoothly. Microsoft Update Site offers a wide variety of updates from software and hardware to critical security updates which will keep Windows safe and secure. If you haven't used the Microsoft Update Site before, you'll be asked to validate Windows first by installing a small plugin (ActiveX object). Once Microsoft confirm you have a genuine copy of Windows installed, let the update site scan your machine to obtain a list of available updates for download.

Tip: It's always a good idea to set a new System Restore point if running Windows XP before installing any new updates. That way, you can roll back the operating System to a previous state if the new updates cause any problems. Click here for further information on using XP System Restore and how to roll back a new driver installation through Device Manager.

8. Disable Unnecessary Programs from Startup

When installed for the first time, many programs add an entry to the registry which makes them load on Startup. Unless these programs are essential for your machine's functionality or security I recommend disabling them from the Startup process. This will not only improve startup speed but will vastly improve your machine's overall performance. Programs constantly running in the background use up valuable system resources and are totally unnecessary when available via the Start > All Programs menu when actually needed.

To view which programs are set to run on Startup, go to Start then Run. Type msconfig in the Run box and click OK to open the System Configuration Utility. Once open, click the "Startup" tab and clear the checkbox beside the entry you wish to disable. If you're unsure what the entries relate to, note down the text in the first column (Startup item) and research the item on any number of websites which provide listings for Startup programs. SystemLookup.com would be a good starting point.

9. Disable Unnecessary Services from Startup

In a similar fashion to the Startup entries, installed software can often add a running Service or two to your machine's Startup process. These Services aren't needed if the software isn't used on a regular basis and can be safely disabled in most cases without any adverse effect. Once again, if the entry is security related it's probably best left alone, otherwise, consider disabling unnecessary Services.

To view which Services are set to run on Startup, go to Start then Run. Type msconfig in the Run box and click OK to open the System Configuration Utility. Once open, click the "Services" tab to reveal the various services running. At this point you can choose to view all Services running or just the third party software Services by checking/unchecking the box at the bottom of the window "Hide All Microsoft Services". Third party software services can be referenced on SystemLookup.com 023 List or Google. When you've confirmed whether the Service is needed, simply clear the related checkbox box beside the Service you wish to disable.

Tip: If you disable any Microsoft Services, make a note of your actions on a text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad and save them to a convenient location for easy reference.

10. Consult the Malware Removal Help & Analysis Forum!!

Hopefully Steps 1-9 have resolved your performance issues but if you're still having problems now may be a good time to consult our Security Experts in the Malware Removal Help & Analysis so they can check your system for signs of malicious software. Simply follow the pre-post guidelines in the sticky topic Malware Removal - READ THIS BEFORE POSTING and then start a new topic in the Malware Removal - Help & Analysis forum with your Farbar Recover Scan Tool log and a brief explanation of the problem(s) you've been experiencing.


If you need to PM me, please search for my new username John-McKenna or click here.

Last edited by Robert Irvine Editor; 04-02-15 at 08:54.
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