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by Saltrams / June 14, 2005 5:00 PM PDT

I'm running XP Pro SP2 on a machine with an Athlon 2400 processor, 1Gb RAM and an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe motherboard that I threw together myself. It has worked fine for a year or so. Yesterday I was idling away with "Children of the Nile" and couldn't fail to notice that it was incredibly slow and very "jerky" - the gameplay was stopping every few seconds & scrolling was pathetic. Startup and other tasks are taking way too long now as well. I realise that I have installed way too much rubbish and want to hone the machine and stop so many background processes etc, but HOW? and more importantly how SAFELY? How can I restore my machine to its former super fast(ish) self?

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PS Forgot to add
by Saltrams / June 14, 2005 5:03 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

that I have done a comprehensive virus check without finding any offenders.

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Slow down
by Papa Echo / June 14, 2005 9:24 PM PDT
In reply to: PS Forgot to add

A virus check is not enough. There are other things. But first, what is the information at Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools >System Information --> System Summary ?

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Saltrams, Things To Do...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 15, 2005 1:03 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

This may take a while, but it should help things run smoother.

First, scan for viruses and spyware by following the steps below:

Click on either, or both of the links below and run the free online virus scanners to get a "second opinion":

Housecall Online Scanner

Panda Online Scanner

Next, download, install, update, then run ALL of the free spyware programs from the links below:


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Well you did say this might take a while....
by Saltrams / July 6, 2005 10:06 PM PDT

I'm grateful for your advice. However, have you got "back-up" advice Sad ?
Housecall won't install - apparently there is an SP2 conflict
Panda won't work as IE encounters an error & has to close each time I get to the downloading necessary files stage.
Ad Aware I had already & it finds nothing critical
Spybot was a nightmare, I had to uninstall it
I have downloaded CWShredder & have yet to try it.
I have done all the start up stuff successfully but I have to say there is no performance difference, Windows just starts a bit quicker.
I fragment regularly & did so about 3 weeks ago - will it be helpful again so soon?
I'm now considering a clean installation on a new HDD & being more selective about my programme installation! Smiles, Saltrams

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What many find...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 6, 2005 10:56 PM PDT

Is that the pests try to defend against removal. Your note about Spybot suggests to me that your machine has a pest since Spybot across hundreds of machines only is a problem when a pest is present and is creating the issues.

Take the battle up a notch and look for HIJACKTHIS HELP.


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Yep, If.....
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / July 7, 2005 12:02 AM PDT

...antivirus programs won't run and antispyware programs won't install or run, then you've probably got a pest problem. Housecall runs just fine on all our XP SP2 machines..

For backup, depending on what type of Recovery CD's you have, simply copy all your important documents, pictures, music, etc. to a CD. Once that's done, it might be a good idea to scan all the files with an antivirus program, just to make sure they're clean. Then simply reformat and reinstall everything using the Recovery CD or the Windows CD. If you've got the Windows CD, remember to reinstall all drivers and other programs.

Hope this helps.


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by brian4xp / July 8, 2005 7:26 AM PDT

I've had trouble with Housecall when PC-Cillin is active,but I forget which component I had to shut off to not interfere with Housecall.

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In addition...
by Willy / July 7, 2005 1:01 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

Try MS own Spyware-Beta scanner, free. Plus, beforehand, if you haven't already, reconsider whatever pgms. you are now running what isn't needed or you've grown away from, uninstall or delete them, plus consider when the problem occured, was there a recent install then? Taking all this into account, what other posters have suggested should get a handle on things. Beware, it take alot of your time than you planned as some malware if present will be troublesome. Google for any manual removal instructions if any scanner can't do it on thier own or suggest manual intervention. Last, try using soome registry cleaner to finish the process(back-up any data/pgms.) in order to be safe.

tada -----Willy Happy

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What Willy said and a bit more
by WUASTT / July 7, 2005 11:03 PM PDT
In reply to: In addition...

I ran into a similar thing last week and narrowed it down to what was most likely an error in a ?Critical Update? installation. I came home after working on the road to find that my PC was just crawling along and ended up doing a restore back only as far as the check point just before I left town. I did the restore after all of my regular cleanings, checks and decrementing. After I verified everything was up to speed, I then went back to Windows update and reinstalled the latest (only one in my case) and restarted after the update and everything is still good. As suggested, make sure you back up any data that you have so that you can restore with out a bunch of re-entering.

Good luck, kt

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cleaning up
by MichaelF / July 7, 2005 11:22 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......


Cleaning up computers has become half of my income in my computer business. What I find is that if your computer is full of pests then they will not remove on a normal login. I start the computer in safe mode (hit F8 on initial bootup and select 'safe mode' from the dos menu). This mode starts with basic windows and basic drivers and prevents most pests from starting as well. I then run a full antivirus scan, checking 'ALL FILES' (this is normally a setting in your antivirus program as a normal scan ussually only checks likely files). I then also Adaware, spybot and cwshredder, all from safe mode. I also find that these programs will install from safe mode as well.

You need to make sure that all of these programs are the latest versions and fully up to date.

Once all nasties are gone restart the computer and run spybot. It has an advanced mode (mode menu) and then you can select 'Tools' and 'startup info'. It is the easiest way I find to get rid of autostarting programs as it also tells you what they do in most circumstances. (double arrows to the right of the programs opens up an information tab.) I delete most stuff except antivirus and windows logon files.

Next uninstall from add/remove programs in control panel, any programs you are no longer using. Then I download and run ccleaner (crap cleaner) form ,this programs will clean up temporary and left over files and scan for windows errors, buckup when it prompts when making windows fixes as these change your registry. Then defragment and enjoy.

If that doesn't work (and 19 times out of 20 it does) I would backup, format and start fresh. Don't forget the format part, don't just reinstall over the top as it will keep all your problems. Start from the XP cd and it should allow you to format the partition during setup.

Good luck


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And if all of this is too much or overwhelming....
by wolfgangmo / July 7, 2005 11:45 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

I would suggest a mac. I recently [1.5 years ago] flipped our company from PC to MAC and haven't had any of those problems, not have I have to add patches, extra security programs, update anything, or generally troubleshoot on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly level. I used to spend about an hour a day [at least] in tech support even in our smaller company.

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He's right, Mac is the way
by girasole9 / July 8, 2005 4:02 AM PDT

I have never had any of these problems at any company I've ever worked for that uses the Mac platform. The PC side, on the other hand, is down at least once a day.

Windows tries to emulate Mac, but they still can't come close.

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So you have a Mac, what does it have to do with the question
by JASON MAZON / July 8, 2005 5:02 AM PDT

I see that we are still entertaining this pseudo "I have a Mac, therefore I've found computing holigrail naivette."

The Mac platform (Unix, Intel now) is not even Mac anymore. It has never been submitted to the pounding stress and code attacks that the Windows platform has.
The Windows operating system has always been sort of a general, sprawling, large code engine made to address all kinds of computing needs. If I find a piece of off-the beaten-track software that I like to use, I look for a Windows PC-not a Mac.

The best solution for a Windows system that has slowed down is to reset a backed up partition image of the system to the main root drive. This means: store your data on a second partition or a separate drive. The Mac user is kind of a lazy computing user. It has always cringed at changing the oil in its car engine, so to speak.This is easier than most people think. This is more realistic thanb blindly reciting the mantra of a brilliant marketting guru.

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Alternate OS
by ppentz / July 8, 2005 7:01 AM PDT

I don't see any problem with recommending an alternate OS. I personally use Linux, and without the need for adware and spyware scans, virus scans, and defraging, it's almost gotten boring to use my computer. I actually have to *gasp* work!

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Here we go again
by JASON MAZON / July 8, 2005 7:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Alternate OS

I went to a remote community school in a Nigerian village and they only had one computer. It was not a Unix, Linux, Mac computer. It was a regular Windows PC.

We are trying to address problems with this platform here-not a fringe platform like linux and the Mac.

So, don't be naive, most computing WORK around the world is carried out on a Windows PC. By the way, I've worked with UNIX and the Mac and other platforms. I guess that makes me less computing handicapped that someone stuck to a Mac or a Linux computer.

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Did you clean out temp files and defrag?
by dlauber / July 8, 2005 12:05 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

I've built quite a few Windows XP computers with the wonderful motherboard you used. Good choice! You clearly know what you're doing.

I haven't been able to read all the responses, so if somebody has already suggested these options, I apologize. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't have much free space on your hard drive. Temporary files can really fill it up. So be sure to clean out all the temporary files on your computer. I've had a few clients come in with very, very slow computers and it turned out they had thousands and thousands of temporary files, including hundreds in the c drivee root directory. Once I deleted all the temp files, the computers flew like new. A great program for cleaning out temp files is System Mechanic. Other utilities can also delete them from your computer. You might also want to clean out your recycle bin which can get quite crowded. (System Mechanic also has a great utility for easily controlling your start up group so you can disable some programs from starting when you boot up.)

A very fragmented hard drive can also bring your computer to a crawl. If you haven't defragmented your hard drive in months, you might also want to do that. Windows built-in defrager is mighty slow. But Norton Systemworks' Speed Disk utility is mighty fast (although if you haven't defragmented in months, defragging could take a while).

Good luck. Please let us know what works.

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by hothta / July 8, 2005 2:20 AM PDT

no one said anything about winpatrol it is a simple program that helps a lot it is free and helps with startup and ie if his start up has exceeded his ram he is in trouble i have 2 hard drives one for saved one for sys this works great and winpatrol, s&d, adaware,spyware removal is all i have on my pc and it does the job get winpatrol get to know it and it will help you keep your pc running fast

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Norton Speed Disk No Good

Although I used to swear by it, I've had all kinds of problems with Norton Speed Disk ever since I installed the XP-sp2 update. Although it may be a little slow (I set it to run overnight,) the Windows defrag program is much more reliable. Norton Speed Disk either freezes, tells me that it couldn't complete the defrag and I must restart and try again, or doesn't fully defrag the whole disk.

"Windows built-in defrager is mighty slow. But Norton Systemworks' Speed Disk utility is mighty fast (although if you haven't defragmented in months, defragging could take a while)"

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by jccomputer / July 8, 2005 3:54 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......
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Other possible causes
by compusulting / July 8, 2005 5:20 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

Some spyware and viruses are fairly intellegent, and attack the software meant to control them. If you are running Ad-Aware, Spybot Search & Destroy and SpywareBlaster (all of which you should be running) unistall (including their directories in "My Programs") and re-install them. I have also found that sometimes a download from Microsofts' "Software Update" service as well as updates downloaded from your anti-virus vendor runs in the background and steals a lot of resoruces. Log on, have dinner and come back and install any downloads. If you are going to defrag, make sure that you delete the "hieberfile.sys" file first. This is created if you have heibernated the system.

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Free up some RAM
by reedhave / July 8, 2005 5:50 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

When my computer slows down I use a handy little tool called Free RAM XP Pro. Don't be dispised by the name, it works on Win 9x, ME, 2000, and XP, of coarse. All this does is free up some RAM and I find that it helps to make my computer run faster after I run it. I recommend to use it before you start something that may require a lot of RAM, like games.

This is availible at

Good Luck and have a nice day

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by imjdg / July 8, 2005 6:24 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

Clean up your registry!

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by ackmondual / July 8, 2005 10:16 AM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

That's a nice guide to follow for stomping out ad/spyware. All of the programs suggested are free. The poster also left his AIM so you can contact him with any questions you may have

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by papatinney / July 8, 2005 4:57 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

It may be time to look at the option of a reformat of your PC. This will restore it back to the fast PC you liked so well. Just be sure to let someone that knows what they are doing to help you, and backup everything you want to keep before you begin this process.

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Some advice for a really slow computer
by nuclearnerdvanna / July 8, 2005 11:22 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

Sounds like you either have

1) Too many processes(applications) running on in your computer,

2) BIOS not up to date. Windows XP SP2 has ACPI 2.0 and BIOS were revised on some systems to accomodate this major revision,

3) Memory errors,

4) Some spyware is installed running -- Always a bad thing. If you have installed a great deal of free-ware, this can be a real possibility.

5) A conflicted registry.

6) You have two firewalls up and running simultaneously. For example, NORTON INTERNET SECURITY and WINDOWS XP Firewall.

7) If you have NORTON INTERNET SECURITY (or any other FIREWALL Utility) installed, there can be conflicts with the updates (more on this).

Your Athlon XP 2400+ is a processor with ample capability for mainstream PC applications. Your ASUS A7N8X Deluxe is a fine motherboard that is well supported with BIOS upgrades. And 1GB of memory is plenty of real estate for Windows XP SP2 -- there should not be any harddrive paging. Of course uninstalling applications no longer needed is a great way to free up workload.

Short of re-installing Windows XP, I recommend the following steps that seems to be effective at clearing up slowed down computers of my friends:

1) Uninstall applications no longer needed.

2) Download and install the latest and greatest BIOS for your motherboard. BIOS for many motherboards were revised to accommodate changes in the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) with SP2.

The XP help utility says:

"During Windows Setup, ACPI is installed only if all components present during Setup support power management. Some components, especially legacy components, do not support power management and can cause erratic behavior with Advanced Power Management (APM), or may prevent ACPI from being installed. Examples of such components are Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) components and an out-of-date BIOS."

3) Test your memory with Memtest86. I recommend version 3.2 since the tests were revised with more random patterns and are more likely to uncover errors. Download and create a floopy of this utility. Reboot your machine on this floopy and execute all of the tests. Should take about 45 minutes to go through one pass of the test suite. I have found that bad memory can also cause slowdowns rather than application crashes if memory errors occur. If you find some memory errors, try increasing the voltage first. If this does not work, restore the voltage to default (2.6V), then slow down the timings (CAS, RAS, CAS-to-RAS, CMD Rate from 1T to 2T). Memtest86 is an excellent tool to do this kind of tweaking.

Moving (or removing) memory modules can help you deduce which memory module is defective. If needed, you can populate one memory slot for this test.

If tweaking the memory timing is ineffectual, replace the defective memory module.

4) Install and run some of the excellent anti-spyware utilities such as Ad-aware, SpyBot Search and Destroy, and CWS Shredder. With these utilities, make sure you have the latest definitions. I like Ad-aware the most though SpyBot S&D will find stuff that gets past Ad-aware. Spyware can really rob your system.

5) Install the excellent JV16 tool and use its registry fixer and registry cleaner to straighten out the registry. There are free versions of this tool available on CNET, but the early versions (1.0 and 1.1) are actually easier to use than the more powerful later versions. Use the registry fixer first to fix errors, then the registry cleaner second to remove worthless registry entries.

6) Make sure you have one firewall running. Turnoff the Windows XP firewall if you have another one installed.

7) Uninstall and reinstall NORTON Internet Security. In the past, I have experienced slowdowns with this utility after 6 months because upgrades apparently become conflicted. Uninstall this utility and use the Windows XP firewall to see if system performance improves.

Use the search tool to find all the directories and files with "NORTON" or "SYMANTEC" to remove and rid your system of all traces. Use JV16 to cleanup the registry. Then do a reinstall of this utility. After the reinstall, use Liveupdate to obtain the updated software and definitions. Be patient, do not disturb this process. Make sure you reboot your system after each session, then use Liveupdate again and again until there are no more updates for this utility.

This procedure has cleared up some of the slowdown problems my friends have experienced with their computers.

I think these procedure will help you too

Good Luck

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This thread is causing deja vu for me
by wburychka / July 9, 2005 2:21 AM PDT

A few more suggestions.

1. As as been mentioned, at some point you spend more time trying to fix than you would starting over with format and WinXP install. A clean install gives a lot of benefits--and some headaches, since you have to get the Win updates current again, the Office updates current, etc. End result, though, is always a faster running machine.

2. Windows Antispyware. Avoid it. It has a stealth home page hijacker. Also, the free beta is about to expire. The final version will probably be designed to protect certain spyware from eradication, since Microsoft is negotiating now to buy Claria (formerly Gator) and will make Microsoft a spyware purveyor.

3. Installing antispyware in safe mode will not allow you to have the latest definitions, so if you do that, you need to restart in normal mode, update the definitions and then restart in safe mode again to run full scans.

4. I have recently come across ZeroSpyware2005. This program cleaned off a persistent homepage hijacker (see 2. above) which nothing else including manual registry editing could stop. It also flags startup programs it does not recognize. Available as a 15 day trial. I'm down to 4 days remaining, after which I will almost certainly buy this one.

5. After all that cleaning, you may find Registry Mechanic ( useful. I have found it to work almost miracles on slow computers. The trial version only identifies problems, however. You have to buy it for it to fix them. I think it was worth it though.

6. I've encountered and of many problems with Norton Speeddisk. However, Diskeeper Pro is problem free and capable of defragging at every level, including the paging file (be sure to set a fixed size paging file first) and mft. It will also move folders together and do other things the Windows defragger will not. The trial version is fully functional for 15 days--long enough for all the boot-time defragmenting you need to do. The purchase price of $50 is a little steep, however. Most people get sufficient benefit from a one-time boot time defragmentation.

7. See item 1. Could still be your best bet, but after that, 6. is good too.

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New Version MS AntiSpyware - July, 2005 to December
by pmchefalo / July 10, 2005 3:19 PM PDT

I am concerned about how it will handle Claria, but there is a new version of MS AntiSPyware that does not expire until December. There is also no browser home page hijacker in the product, although there are tools that will return the browser to Microsoft defaults.

I find it to be a fairly effective tool, considering it's a Beta.

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jerky etc
by ddbpack / July 9, 2005 5:01 PM PDT
In reply to: S-l-o-w-d-o-w-n......

what size video card?

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