Computer Newbies forum

General discussion

Computer taking years off my life...

First off, please pardon the fact that I'm quite technologically challenged... I know I'm not giving enough information but I'll try.

I purchased a Sony Vaio home computer in Spring of 2003, which uses Windows XP. I am a Roadrunner customer, and I enjoyed great speed initially on that computer. Beginning in Winter of 2003/2004, I noticed significant slowdown loading webpages which I have absolutely no problem at all loading at work. Often times, the system stalls for 1-2 minutes the initial time I try loading a page and I receive an error page suggesting "Cannot locate or DNS Error" the initial time I try to go to a website. If I hit refresh, the page then loads, but again extremely slowly for Roadrunner. Over the past couple days, I've been unable to receive new email on my Outlook, I get a pop-up which says my system unexpectedly terminated its session, even after hitting refresh. I believe (based on no actual knowledge) that the problems I'm experiencing with Outlook may be related to the fact Aol Instant Messager loads everytime I open Outlook (which I haven't figured out how to stop... I typically just hit "cancel" when it tries to load). I've also noticed that the computer is stalling significantly as it opens pages, and places where pics/avatars are supposed to be showing display only a red "x."

I have Adaware and Spybot downloaded, and I run them weekly, and typically they bring up the same 15-20 problems which need to be fixed, which I fix/remove. I also have run Norton Antivirus a number of times recently although I've consistently had problems with its "virus definition" updates, which I seem to be doing every 14 days when it auto prompts, but it still shows my definitions are current only as of November 2003. I've not been able to delete internet files for a couple weeks now (i.e. I hit "delete files" under internet options and nothing seems to happen).

I do have an ESPS plan thru Best Buy but they say they are backed up 7-10 days and frankly I'm assuming they'll see the slowness isn't cured by Adaware/Spybot and recommend a complete system reboot (heard this from a friend). I have a strong hunch that my settings under "Internet Options" are part of the problem, but are there any resources for verifying that my current settings are right? I know my security is set to "low"... other than that it's all jibberish to me.

If this is not enough information please let me know what else I can provide. I'm starting to dread starting up the home PC...

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Computer taking years off my life...
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Computer taking years off my life...
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Re: Computer taking years off my life...

In reply to: Computer taking years off my life...

Ok, I am guessing (but may be wrong) that Roadrunner is an ISP...they are who provides your internet? If not my other guess is that you classify yourself as a poweruser.
Either way, what speed is your much RAM?
I know that WindowsXP will get "messed up" over time...where you do a Reformat which wipes your HDD and reloads XP all new.
My older system, which was the top of the line thing when I bought it in 2001/2002 (pretty sure thats was December of '01 if I remember year correct) but anyways it was the best of the best as a retail computer and now it's slow as heck...and you would say "Oh it's just because it isn't fast" but it feels noticably slower than when it was new. As it fills up it just slows down, running Norton System Works 2003 with most utilites enabled doesn't help mind you, but I would venture that you have just started to load some things that slow it down. Try using Firefox from
I noticed a huge performance jump in my web connection speed when going from Netscape 7 to Firefox...and Mozilla also makes Thunderbird which can replace Outlook...I know that IE 6 isn't the best web browser out there...try Firefox and see if that helps (it's a web browser like IE)

Collapse -
Ok, since no other answers, here's a more concise question

In reply to: Computer taking years off my life...

Assuming I'm prepared to replace whatever files I haven't backed-up which become lost (I think I've backed up most music/pictures already), what is the harm in restoring my computer back to August 2003? What happens to all of the Windows updates I've done since then? Does anyone see this as a legit option?

Collapse -
Re: Ok, since no other answers, here's a more concise questi

In reply to: Ok, since no other answers, here's a more concise question

That's an good option. In fact, I think that System Restore is just that and will leave your data alone.

Better set your security to something higher than low, although it's not sure to me that your problems are related to malware having made use of that.
And can you tell a little bit more on those 15-20 recurring spyware problems. Somehow, it doesn't feel good.


Collapse -
Re: Computer taking years off my life...

In reply to: Computer taking years off my life...


You really haven't given us a clear idea of the type of "maintenance" that you perform on the computer, other than running an out of date Norton, Spybot and Ad-Aware. Have you regulary visited the Windows Update site? Do you have all the Critical updates installed?

Running a System Restore, per Kees' instructions is a good idea. In addition, it might be a good idea to run an online virus scan using either, or both of the free online scanners below:

Housecall Online Scanner

Panda Online Scanner

In addition, you probably need to shut down some of the unnecessary start up programs/services, clean out some of the junk files on the machine, then run Error Checking/Chkdsk and Disk Defragmenter. Please try using the links below to get that done.

How To Shut Down Unnecessary Start Up Programs

How To Clean Unwanted Files From The Hard Drive

How To Run 'Error Checking/Chkdsk' On Win2000/XP

Hope this helps and let us know how it goes.


Collapse -
Re: Computer taking years off my life...

In reply to: Re: Computer taking years off my life...


Thanks for your response. On your comment of "running an out of date Norton's" I'm not sure what to make of that statement since it is a paid membership which does not expire for some time, and I regularly "update definitions" when prompted (which prompts regularly unless I direct it not to prompt for another 14 days, which I do if I've just updated based on a prompt in the past week) but the November 2003 date (and yellow hazard sign) does not change. If that's something I'm doing wrong, I'm not understanding... since it only prompts me to hit an update now button, I would expect that to be a turn key service. I'm contemplating not renewing Nortons as frankly I believe I'm not getting up to date help, and it takes over 2 hours to run the Norton scan. Also, the way the update definitions is always prompting, I get the feeling it's running in the background too much and not accepting updates its searching for.

On regular maintenance, I do get prompted by Windows whenever a new update is available and if I do not get prompted for a couple weeks or more I do visit the site on my own to download any critical updates. I also defrag whenever my system says it is recommended, and I have run check dsk on occasion (although not in the past couple months). I compress files now although I was unable for a time until I found a cure on this message board a few months back when it would not allow me to compress files. I'm not sure what that fix was, but it did allow me to start compressing again.

Thanks for your links, I'll try and see if they help!


Collapse -
Re: Computer taking years off my life...

In reply to: Re: Computer taking years off my life...

On an earlier thread you asked if you do a restore will you have to redo your updates - yes.

Try sorting out Norton first. No reason you should not have current updates and dats if it is working. If not something is blocking it from doing its job. Consider doing an online scan - see threads in the virus section.

Depending on where you live, your RoadRunner cable performance can decrease over time as more customers get on your RR network. You can check your ISP performance by running the tests at to see how you match up to others.

Good luck

Collapse -
Re: Computer taking years off my life...

In reply to: Computer taking years off my life...

Hi mnnightowl,Fist of all, set your security level to Medium for general surfing on the "net". Do you have the firewall turned on? To do this go to start menu<settings<Control Panel<Network Connections,right click on Properties click on the Advanced Tab then click on the square to activate the firewall, click OK. Try manually removing the temp Internet files , cookies and Temp files from the computer. ( go to the Windows Explorer in the Start Menu under Accessories.Open C:\Windows.Expand the Windows Folder. Then run Checkdisk,right click on My computer click on Properties click on scandisk, check to scan for errors and perform repairs to the file system. The computer needs to be re-booted for this program to work. This will correct any file errors and clean up any file fragments etc on the drive. Then run the defragmenter program, usually this will speed up the computer as it lessens the time required to for the hard drive to access the files. Then reboot the computer. You will need to update your Antivirus definitions to current standards from the Symantec site. Run a full system scan to verify that there are no viruses present on the drive. If the drive is clean, run checkdisk once again to verify that there are no file errors. You will be back in business once again. Windows XP is a High maintenance program requiring continuous tweaking and file cleaning(checkdisk) and defragmentation. Update your Adaware program to the New AdawareSE program and regularly run a full system scan to check for and clean out all spyware. (Check out a program called Privacy Expert by Acronis @ it is a very good program that fully removes garbage files from the computer and frees up the virtual memory on the hard drive by cleaning up the swapfiles) Hint: the more RAM and virtual memory the computer has available the faster the programs will respond. Win Xp will start faster and open windows and browser pages faster.

Collapse -
oh i know i know

In reply to: Computer taking years off my life...

some dates i should of gone on and some people i should have spent alot of time with. The internet sort of sped through it.
Strange but now there's this and that. I hope I get back to some special moments though.

From Sandi

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Here's Everything to Know About the 2019 Grammys

Find out how to watch the Grammy Awards if you don't have cable and more.