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Windows XP computer still runs slow even after a clean install?!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 20, 2011 6:52 AM PDT

Windows XP computer still runs slow even after a clean install?!

Is it possible even with a clean install of XP Pro that my computer
still runs slow with only the OS installed? Prior to the clean
install my computer was slow as molasses. I tried all the suggested
software solutions: Registry Cleaners; security scanners, and delete
all temp files and log files and Internet cache. Nothing helped. So I
deleted all partitions on the hard drive, did a clean install of XP Pro
System (Intel Motherboard, Pentium D 3.4 Ghz processor with 2GB of
RAM) and to my surprise my system is still dragging, how could that
be? Shouldn't it perform like it was new when I first bought the
system? I found no solutions that addressed hardware as a culprit. Is
it time for a new motherboard or what? Please help me out with this
mystery. Thank you.

--Submitted by: Bob W.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

A Few Key Items for your Fresh Install of XP --Submitted by: High Desert Charlie

A Wide Variety of Possible Causes --Submitted by: tonyny77

Many May Have It Right --Submitted by: Hforman

XP Computer runs slow --Submitted by: compvis

No - will never run when first bought --Submitted by: DilbertE

Could be either hardware or software problem... --Submitted by: darrenforster99

Probably a Hardware Problem --Submitted by: Flatworm

Thanks to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice or recommendation for Bob, click the reply link below to submit it. Please be as detailed as possible when providing an answer. Thanks!
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Hard drive problems still possible
by rleitz / May 20, 2011 10:12 AM PDT

A system that is more than a few years old may be having an underlying problem with its hard drive. When you rebuilt the O/S you may have only done a quick format of the hard drive which wouldn't catch serious problems with the drive. A great program to test the hard drive is SprinRite by Steve Gibson over at When I get a new drive I run SpinRite and try to run it once or twice a year on my drives to help solve these type of problems.

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agree with rieitz, more info plz?
by bcurl / May 20, 2011 10:38 AM PDT

You mentioned your system at 2gb ram. at boot time, check into the bios and verify that the memory is still working (listed at correct size). If you've already done this, and your memory is fine, I'd go with the drive diagnostics and fix. you don't say how confident you are with systems.
I am sure you can get some recommendations and ratings here for the many "tweak" tools available. be sure you back up your config and ini files before you try testing. Maybe that is not a problem as you mentioned doing a clean install. You can find some nice diagnostic tools if you shop the big memory manufacturer stores too.
I have my favorites, but I am keeping an even older systems (win2000) and have only started to look at windows 7 to see if it worthwhile, or just dump mr. gates and go linux.

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Jumped to Linux
by MorrisSouthHound / May 29, 2011 3:58 AM PDT

II have a Toshiba laptop which was running Win XP on 2 gigs of memory & 100 gig hard drive. Clean install did nothing to speed up this old dog. Since I no longer used this "Time Machine", I installed Ubuntu Narwhal. Minor problems for me to get everything I wanted into the system, such as contacts, bookmarks & Seamonkey. The system boot is much faster and the shut down is fast. The overall speed fluctuates but I thought it would be much faster, compared to Win XP it is. With the "Gates OS" I could have breakfast and a second cup of coffee before it finished booting. When the machine is old there is so much you can do before moving on to a new machine.
One more little thing I experienced, no "Blue Screen of Death" but it has just shut down while on the net but maybe the OS still might not be the "stable" version.

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If not your HDD or PSU (power supply unit) ...
by Zivtu / May 21, 2011 4:48 AM PDT

Than check out your CPU and Chipset fans. If either one is stopped, it can sl;ow down your system to a halt or stop it from working altogether (literally turns the system off).

I've experienced this several times, regardless of OS type. Your system just HALTS!!!!

Good luck.

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Halt OR just slow down
by Rick75230 / May 27, 2011 1:20 PM PDT

With a lot of the newer mobos, when the processor starts getting too hot the system will automatically reduce the processor speed, which cuts power consumption. That is mainly to prevent damage from overclocking, but it is strictly temperature dependent, so anything that causes overheating will trigger it. A system that came with XP is probably too old for the mobo to have that feature, but I figure I'll mention it in case someone else runs into that with a newer system.

By the way, the first time I bought a Pentium mobo to replace a 386, I went crazy with lockups and other problems for about 1-1/2 years. I literally replaced everything in the computer--including the case--at least once and it still randomly locked up.

Turned out the company that sold me the mobo gave me a 486 fan instead of a Pentium fan. Since I could see the fan spinning, I never replaced the fan! Replacing that fixed the problem.

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Heat was my issue
by dknispel / May 30, 2011 11:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Halt OR just slow down

I had this issue just this past weekend. System was running slower and slower. Opened it up, removed the fan, and vacuumed it out cleaning the blades with a small brush.

It is running great now. No reload necessary.

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Either Memory or HD problem
by dgdunn67 / May 29, 2011 12:15 PM PDT

3 possible things you can look at for this.

Since it is a fresh install and still crawling. 1st easiest thing check bios is Cache enable (make sure it is if if is not)

2 check memory may have bad memory.

3 last hard drive. Try a different hard drive.

(It could also be a heat problem. What the temp of the cpu? Clean the cpu fan and any other fans you have in the system)

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by callmar / June 1, 2011 7:12 AM PDT

I just went to the site you mentioned and started to run the LeakTest component. My AVG flagged it as malware. Is there a problem with it or should I permit it to run anyway?

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That's proper.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 1, 2011 7:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Leaktest

As any leaktest must jump outside boundaries of it's memory space any good antivirus should flag it as suspect.

Your choice on permission since I can't tell if this version is legit. That is I find folk downloading things from warez and torrent sites too often.

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Hard drive problems still possible
by Bofill17 / April 5, 2013 8:19 AM PDT

you need to pay for this program, is not worth it pay for programs and have a old computer.

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Any other symptoms or you just find it lagging ?

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(NT) I used the edbott link,very successful.
by acka3 / May 20, 2011 1:20 PM PDT
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by Gregarious1 / May 21, 2011 4:02 AM PDT

I tried running this tweak twice, and both times it comes back that it is unrecognized. Hmm.

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You're used to the speed...

If you bought a new car that went from 0-60 in 8 seconds instead of 15, you'll think it's very fast. After a few years, it takes 12 seconds, and it appears slower, so you get it tuned up or rebuilt. Now it does 0-60 in 8 seconds again... but 15 to 8 and 12 to 8 feel different to the human brain, so it feels like less of a speed jump than 15 to 8 seconds.

When you went from a 1-2ghz to a 3.4 ghz processor, you experienced a huge jump in performance, something that you won't experience from a fresh install years after the fact. To spell it out... it *is* as fast as when you bought it, more likely than not.

You're just so used to the speed of your computer and probably expect too much from it; there's not much you can do other than run a hdd check on boot, barring any issues, settle in for the usual speed.

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Not likely
by Rick75230 / May 27, 2011 1:28 PM PDT

Actually, studies have shown that doubling the processor speed only increases overall speed about 15%. There are a lot of other factors such as disk throughput, FSB speed, etc.

My work computer is a 2003 Dell with a 2.4GHz Celeron and 512Mb RAM and 160GB PATA. I recently replaced my home mobo, which is now a 2009 Asus, dual-core 3GHz, 4GB, 1.5TB SATA-2, 800 MHz FSB. Although it's definitely faster than the office machine, it's not "blazingly" faster with either XP or Win7 (it's dual boot). And it's not unusual for me to have 8-10 windows open.

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Power supply is also possible....

I agree with rleitz, but let me also share my experience. Recently (last week) I experienced something which I wasn't unexpected. The problem was similar, but the hard disks were only few months old, I even replaced one more hard disk, so I suspected something else other than the HDDs. I installed Windows xp on three hdds to find out which one was causing the problem, but that wasn't helpful. After trying and doing this and that, I finally replaced the SMPS and yes it solved my problem. Now my xp system is running without any problem. I've even installed another 500GB HDD (I now have three hdds installed and running). I am not very sure about the solution, but if the cause of our problems are common, hopefully replacing the smps or trying with another smps may be helpful.

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Power supplies routinely go flakey
by Rick75230 / May 27, 2011 1:38 PM PDT

Power supplies routinely go flakey when they age, way before they fully fail (no power at all or machine won't boot). I've had that happen several times.

Like most of the posters, I think the most likely problem is a hard disk that is getting ready to catastrophically fail, but if it's not, the problem is most likely the power supply. I have had several mobos fail after 5+ years of use, so that is definitely possible, but I'd say it's a distant third. I routinely turn my computers off when not in use, so my 5-7 years would be equivalent to 3-4 years if the machine is left on.

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The shortest way is replace the ram if after cleaning and refitting in slots speed does not increase.
so many times i have experience this things try by best

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Failing RAM is very unlikely
by verdyp / May 21, 2011 8:30 PM PDT
In reply to: shukla

Believe it, RAM is certainly not the most fragile part of your PC.

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Xp Computer runs slow

Hello Bob: Firstly the Windows you are putting on now is not the same windows that you put on when you bought your OS. Microsoft constently upgrades and adds patches to the OS that can enlarge the amount of memory the OS uses as well as the registry. Second. what Antivirus or spam protection software are you installing. Thes can consistently slow down the basic use of Windows. I personally have built new machines, install the OS used basic windows functions and then installed Antivirus files like Norton full security and then have seen the OS slowed down to as slow as the old computer that was replaced. Solution: Well you can only mitigate the problem. Add more memoryto the computer to make up for some of the enlargment of the OS and the amount of resorces that the OS and Antivirus are using. Since it is a Laptop you probably cant replace the CPU. Also Limit what starts when the OS is loaded. That has a direct affect on the resources used and therefore the speed. Good luck

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Compvis accurate but way general.
by king-tom1 / May 28, 2011 4:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Xp Computer runs slow

Firstly,,yes XP is now loaded up,,Second ,,,yes full security programs can make your system crawl,,and adding more RAM might prob. help..,,,,then "Also Limit what starts when the OS is loaded. That has a direct affect on the resources used and therefore the speed. Good luck. ",,,,,here is the meat of my answer,,there is no info. on how to do that,,,go to START,,go to SEARCH,,go to ALL FILES AND FOLDERS,,type in MSCONFIG in both slots,,with the search slot being drive C,,,pick "msconfig.exe" from the search list by double clicking it.,,System Configuration window opens up so now pick the STARTUP button,,,,now uncheck all the start up programs that you guess that you just plain ol don't need at start up,,,that you can run from the desk top button or from the program files.Hit apply.,,restart..and see if this helps far as the aformentioned start up stuff is concerned..there are other things that could be messed up,,like malware & virus stuff,,,down load and run Malwarebytes from CNET downloads.,,,and get rid of your TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES,,which someone else can explain,,,Clingtotree

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by dapottsmd / May 28, 2011 7:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Xp Computer runs slow

I often see comments stating (such as Compvis') "limit what starts when the OS is loaded". However, I haven't been told how to do that. The start menu is also mentioned, but I don't know how to thin that, eithet.

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by king-tom1 / May 30, 2011 3:16 AM PDT
In reply to: How??

Read the post that I entered several hours before you asked how..I explains changing your startup programs.

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No - will never run when first bought

Bob - when you first bought your PC it did not have the Window updates/service packs installed. As Microsoft patches holes and makes your PC safer with service packs and such, they will suck up your resources. I suggest as you did not mention how much cache and speed your HD has. I suggest you look at getting a HD with a larger cache, maybe 32mb or even look into getting a solid state HD as their prices are coming down. Your pc would really speed up with a SSD. DilbertE


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No Way!
by RJMGroup / May 27, 2011 12:23 PM PDT

Service Pack 3 actually had minor performance improvements over the older service packs. Patches don't suck up resources. They change the code for stability and security reasons; not slow it down.

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Service packs do use more RAM...
by JCitizen / June 1, 2011 12:16 PM PDT
In reply to: No Way!

I've seen this while rebuilding machines over and over again. With XP SP1 the PC uses less that 128Mbs, but after adding SP3 the darn thing is using hundreds of Mbs of RAM!! Then I add security tools to bring it up to over 500Mbs. But they run like a top with the tools I use.

There is no getting by a slow CPU though. If the laptop is designed for Windows ME, then no amount of RAM will help.

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Slow pc xp after reinstall
by alie4251 / May 28, 2011 4:41 AM PDT

Many have this issue it is very simple to fix

Please read all u can about how to create a profile for what you want to do
Realize u can create many profiles one for fast boot
One for games one for work and so on
I use fast boot if I need a program that needs a specific service just start it
So good luck and happy computing if u really want fast try 64 bit and at least 16 gig of ram
I assure u you will see a big difference

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by verdyp / May 28, 2011 8:14 PM PDT

SSD disks are definitely not cheap. It may be however a good investment that you'll reuse later in your future PC running Windows 7 SP1 or later. For the same price at least he could buy a licence of Windows 7 or 3 PCs (the current one, the future one, and possibly a notebook or the PC of your children).
Windows 7 runs perfectly well without any SSD, because today's SATA harddisks are much faster than yesterday's ATAPI/PATA harddisks, and also because most SATA disks today include a cache (even 2MB of cache embedded in the SATA drive makes a huge difference, compared to the gain from 2MB to 32MB). The cause of this speed of SATA drives is not really about the interface technology (even if the throughput of the SATA and SATA2 interfaces is now much faster than PATA) but because of the gain of density (which reduces the number of track accesses), and of the gain of access time (SATA drives are using their internal cache to anticipate sequential reads, guided by the OS, even if he still does not claim those anticipated sectors, and because SATA disks are also reordering the accesses according to the effective physical geometry, which is definitely no more a basic grid, and also because the embedded SMART techology may reorder sectors silently in the goemetry to anticipate problems).
Yes there are good reasons to use a SSD, but for XP running in at most 3GB of memory (the rest being assigned to the hardware, and possibly usable for the video, and used in the resident part of the OS kernel), I'm not sure this is a good investment (you could as well buy a new complete PC, including its Windows 7 licence, for the price of the SSD needed to support a convenient C: partition to fit the OS installation which will take about 70-80 GB on disk C:, and to fit the additional paging file about twice the size of the memory, so you would need at least a 128GB SSD to get a significant gain for the OS speed... The SSD is certainly not for your documents, videos, music, photos and game installation files, but could eventually be a convenient place for heavily used files with complex structure and many directories, such as some development tools)

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Well that could run him into another problem.
by orlbuckeye / May 30, 2011 9:38 PM PDT

basically when XP came out they used IDE interfaces with the hard drives. The SSD drives of todat have sata interfaces. People had problems when they bought Vista machines with SATA drives and they installed XP. Xp only contained drivers for IDE drives so they had to install SATA drivers first to even recognise the XP CD.

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