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IT Trainee, PC is slow

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I'm the new IT tech at our office, and I have been asked an odd question a few times now.

Someone asks why their computer is slow, it takes 3 minutes to open an excel spreadsheet for example.

Typically it's an older core2duo processor with windows XP.

Can you tell me what you would check?

1) what processes are running in task manager
2) run a registry scanner

I think as computers get older they just become less responsive.

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Core2duo should run XP with no problems. How much RAM? What is the processor. If it's a Intel Celeron or AMD Sempron then that is the main problem.

Hard drive free space, use CCleaner to remove collected trash.

Installed programs and what is running in Task Manager. Use msconfig to eliminate all unnecessary startup processes and services.

Hard drive fragmentation. Probably not a big item but defragging may help a little.

External devices connected.

Network shares.
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The PC has 4 GB ram, I'll need to check on the type of intel CPU it has later.

It is being shut down every night, but during the day I guess XP accumulates a lot of processes running in task manager.
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XP SP3 needs at least 1 Gigabyte of RAM. Less and it will take forever to boot.

XP doesn't automatically defrag so that can be a major factor. Doesn't hurt to also run a check disk. Make sure you have at least 15% disk space free.

Old XP's tend to be clogged with dust. This causes them to get hot and a hot PC is a slow PC since the CPU will slow down in self protection. I usually use Speccy

Get the free version of Speccy:

http://www.filehippo...download_speccy (Look in the upper right for the Download
Latest Version button) Download, Save and Install it. Run Speccy. When it finishes (the little icon in the bottom left will stop moving), File, Save as Text File, (to your desktop) note the name it gives. OK. Open the file in notepad and delete the line that gives the serial number of your Operating System. (It will be near the top about 10 lines down.) Attach the file to your next post.

since I'm not in front of the PC but if you are looking at the PC then Speedfan might be the way to go.

It won't work on really old motherboards but when it does work it gives you a good idea of the temp. A desktop usually runs under 40 C while a laptop should be under 60. Just recently learned that Speedfan has the capability to do an extended disk test. Might come in handy if you suspect the hard drive.

Process Explorer is a another good tool:

Get Process Explorer

Save it to your desktop then run it (Vista or Win7 - right click and Run As Administrator).

View, Select Column, check Verified Signer, OK
Options, Verify Image Signatures

Click twice on the CPU column header to sort things by CPU usage with the big hitters at the top.

Wait a minute then:

File, Save As, Save. Open the file Procexp.txt on your desktop and copy and paste the text to a reply.

but it's just as easy if you are in front of the PC to open Task Manager and select Processes. Click on Show Processes from All Users then click once or twice on the CPU column header to sort things with the biggest CPU users at the top. System Idle should be the biggest user with over 90%. Any other process with more than 1 or 2% other than process explorer's own process should be suspect. You can also click on the Memory column header and sort by memory use. See if something is hogging the memory. Once had a program that kept using more and more memory the longer it was on until it ran out.

The thing you don't see in Task Manager is the Interrupts percentage which normally runs about 1%. This seems to have more of an effect that the % would imply. I have seen a PC with 1.7% Interrupts be so slow that you could not watch a video. Oddly enough it was caused by a bad laptop battery but most times it a bad driver.

I like to look at the Event logs to see what fails during the boot:

Start, Run, eventvwr.msc, OK to bring up the Event Viewer. Right click on System and Clear All Events, No (we don't want to save the old log but you can if you want to), OK. Repeat for Application.


Since you are at the PC you can look directly at the Event log for Errors and Warnings in System and also in Applications. Remember you can click on the Level column header and sort things by severity. I usually use VEW

1. Please download the Event Viewer Tool by Vino Rosso
and save it to your Desktop:
2. Right-click VEW.exe and Run AS Administrator
3. Under 'Select log to query', select:

* System
4. Under 'Select type to list', select:
* Error
* Warning

Then use the 'Number of events' as follows:

1. Click the radio button for 'Number of events'
Type 20 in the 1 to 20 box
Then click the Run button.
Notepad will open with the output log.

Please post the Output log in your next reply then repeat but select Application.

Sometimes a critical windows service will not be running. Farbars is good to determine that:

Download, Save and Run (win 7 or Vista => Right click and Run as Admin.) farbar service scanner

Posted Image

Tick "All" options.
Press "Scan".
It will create a log (FSS.txt) in the same directory the tool is run.

Please copy and paste the log to your reply.

Tho again if you are in front of the PC you can just open a command window and type:
net start

and compare the list to that of a working machine.

I don't expect you would have the problem in a business environment but I see people with two (or more) anti-viruses installed. Multiple anti-viruses fight each other and slow a PC down.

I've also seen several PCs that took forever to boot. Removing the anti-virus (usually Norton) and reinstalling solved the problem. Of course malware and adware can also slow down a PC.

Download the adwCleaner
Close your browsers and pause your antivirus.

  • Run the Tool
    Windows Vista and Windows 7 users:
    Right click in the adwCleaner.exe and select the Delete option
  • When the scan completes, it will open a notepad windows.
  • Please, copy the content of this file in your next reply.

That should remove most common adware. I'm not going to start on malware. Be here all night.

SpeedyFox is a neat program if you have Firefox or Chrome:

http://www.crystalidea.com/speedyfox . Close Chrome and Firefox. Click on Speedup my Firefox. When it finishes click on Exit.

Makes Firefox or Chrome start a lot faster.

One other thing to try on a slow machine is to use msconfig:

Start Run, msconfig, OK
Go to Services tab and click on the box to hide Microsoft Services then uncheck
everything that remains. Go to Startup tab and uncheck everything. OK and
reboot. If it doesn't run faster then go back into msconfig and recheck the
things you turned off. If it helps then go back and turn on a few items each
time until you find the culprit.

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