Computers: Should I reformat because it's going slowly?

I’m computer literate, but I’m unsure of where to go with the problem I’m currently having.

My computer (a PIII 800Mhz with 384Mb RAM) is running dog-slow at the moment. XP’s been installed on it for about 4 months and has accrued the usual amount of excess crud. I have a reasonably nippy IBM hard-drive.

But I’m getting frustrated with how slowly it’s running at the mo.

Would you recommend re-formatting the primary disk and starting from scratch? I’m fairly used to doing this every 12 months or so, but never in so short as 4 months.

If not, what else could/should I try that I’m unlikely to have thought of.

Thanks dopers!

Defrag could help. Also do you have enought free harddrive space?

I second Dave here. Try removing some excess programs you don’t need, too, before you defrag.

Kendo, you’re used to reformatting your Hard Drive once a year?!? You lose all your data every 12 months?

Something is wrong.

Your PC should never require a reformat of the HD. That’s a last-ditch, all is lost kind of thing.

For now, try defragmenting your drive and running Scan Disk. If that doesn’t do it, you’ll need to begin looking for memory leaks and resource hogs.

Good luck.

Try a third party system maintenance program, too, it should defrag your registry & hd & clean things up.

You may want to check for viruses too.

Also, I’ve noticed that some spyware can slow down a PC noticeably. Get yourself AdAware to clean that crud off.

I don’t know what planet you are living on but where I live using WinBlows[sup]tm[/sup] a rebuild of your machine is a semi-regular occurrence. If you’re like my parents who take their PC out of the box and never install anything else on it (using the OEMed Office suite it came with) you might get lucky and not have to do anything for years. If you’re like me, who constantly installs and uninstalls software among other things, then a once a year rebuild is about right.

If you are in the re-build club I strongly recommend partitioning your hard drive into two partitions. In this fashion you can save all your data to the second partition (usually the D drive) and blow away your C: drive to your heart’s content without losing any of your work.

You may also notice slowdowns if you have more than one user logged on to XP at once, especially if this other user has a bunch of processes going on.

Try to free up some system resources. Go to start, run and enter in msconfig, from there click on the startup tab and at the bottom click on “disable all” recheck antivirus if present. Click OK then close and reboot. You’d be surprised at how often that speeds up a machine like new.

That being said, I am of the Gotta reformat once in awhile club. I just cant stand that “Not so fresh hard drive feeling” :slight_smile:

I have to defrag my registry now & then it sure needs it too. System Suite 2000 does it
by restarting the computer.

Also, Restore is set to take up 12% of your HD space if you don’t change the factory settings, so I have
to uncheck (restart) then recheck Restore(rstart) to clear it. Just think, if you have a 40gig HD & a primary paritition
of 5 gigs, windoz is using almost all of that 5 gigs eventually (takes some time) for restore.

While I agree that in recovery situations it’s a good idea to defrag first and format last. Annual reformatting and reinstallation can be very good for your PC’s health and should present no major problems if you archive that which you wish to keep on a CD or other backup device.

And it can certainly be a problem that a reformat is ther best answer for, with all the applications that we pile onto our systems the registry alone can become staggeringly jammed with outdated items and unnessisary information that refers to programs that are no longer used, or that did not uninstall properly.

As for your OS specifically you might want to check and look at Jerry Pournelles columns on XP Home edition. If you have the pro version then I have no clue, but the home edition is crap designed flawed to provide a reason for the purchase of the more expensive professional version.

In my experience defragging a desktop machine has next to no effect. I understand the theory behind defragging, and I have played with defraggers for many years (about 12). The only sure thing that they provide is some satisfaction at watching all the blocks line up and the colours form contiguous bands. There is no noticeable performance improvement.

Even if there is for you, how much time do you save? 1 second on a five second job? 2 seconds? If a defrag (conservatively) takes an hour, and saves you (generously) 2 seconds in a five second job, you would have to do that job 1800 times to break even! A poor price/performance ratio indeed.

What’s that you say? You do other things while the defrag’s on? Do you really, or do you find it hypnotic and therapeutic? :slight_smile:

Server machines are different - I have seen 40% time savings on complex jobs on a multiuser server (compiling software).

If your machine is slowing down, find out exactly what it is and fix it. If it’s not one thing in particular, especially in Windows, then reinstall. Use a CPU monitor to find out what is taking the time (unless it’s disk or network - if so find out! ).

You might have a lot of services running too that you don’t need at the moment. Services are background applications and whatnot that may not be used with your current configuration.
I suggest you go and peruse this site, and see what you can do about those:

To get to services,

Start -> Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance ->Administrator Tools -> Services

Double click on each one to see the properties.

Oh, and if you have NTFS file system in use, you will be best off getting a program for defragging called Diskeeper which takes care of the files and proprietary system sections that WinXp’s own defrag inexplicable doesn’t for some reason. It’s the fastest and most efficient thorough defrag utility I have ever seen. See it here:

384 Megs of ram? Set your paging file to 384 for both Initial size and max size.

Get a program called “easycleaner” by Toniarts and use that regularly to remove useless files, registry entries, and start menu links. Here it is:

Remember to read the FAQ’s before using, which among other things tells you to add the word “help” to the Skip list to prevent WIndows Help from being disabled.

That should get you well on your way.

Well, if you defrag every month, then no, you shouldn’t notice any big change in performance. However… let your computer chug along for two years before giving it its first defrag.

Anyway… to the OP: In XP, I would always recommend this. Right-click on My Computer, then go to Properties. Click on the “Advanced” tab, and then click on Performance Settings, then select the option for “Adjust for Best Performance”. This will cut out all the extraneous and unnecessary “Ooh, that’s cool!” features in XP, such as fading minimizing and such.

Oh, and always do a CTRL-ALT-DEL every now and then to see if you have any unnecessary programs running in the background.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a healthy format/rebuild every now and again. Just backup your data (CD-R makes that easy).

After said invigorating reinstall, visit , and tweak away. XP has a lot of garbage turned on by default that I despise (‘Firewall’, file protection, fade effects, etc).

Have at, and do not be discouraged by the naysayers!

Nothing wrong with reformatting, but it’s a pain in the ass, you risk losing data, and you aren’t going to gain much of a performance improvement. Defrag if you haven’t for some time (say, several months to a year). Do this overnight, not while you’re running a lot of other programs. Really, though, your best bet to improve system performance is just to upgrade your system. I’m amazed how many people are still running ancient systems (and complaining about performance) when upgrading to a top-of-the-line setup will only set you back about $300 (assuming you keep the reusable parts of your system).