Problem with Windows XP after Windows update

I picked up a Dell Dimension 8250 (I think) a couple of months ago. 2.4 gig Pentium processor, 256 megs of memory and GeForce 4 MX video card. Never went through the Windows updates you could download from the Internet, as all I had was a phone line, and with dial-up, an update’d take forever.

All seemed to be going well till a few weeks ago, when I got DSL installed at home. After I got the DSL installed, I downloaded all the Windows updates there were out there, all the security patches, everything. And ever since, my computer’s been slow as hell. Takes five minutes to shut down once I’ve given the shut-down command, can take a minute to open an IE window… it’s ridiculous. When I pull up Task Manager, it doesn’t show a ridiculous level of CPU usage and I’m not seeing any unusual processes or programs running. I’ve installed Norton Anti-Virus – no viruses. I scan my drives religiously with both Ad-Aware and Spybot – no major spyware. Drives are defragged, and it’s still dragging.

I know that I can do a rollback and go back to before I installed those updates, but I’d like to know if anyone has any ideas as to what’s causing this and what I can do before I take that kind of extreme measure.


You could maybe try something like this:

The only time I get the symptoms you are having is after I have watched a movie online with RealPlayer. I think RealPlayer hogs all the memory and even after I have exited RealPlayer, it takes awhile before my system gets back to normal.

Oh, I have had trouble is the XP mouse driver for my laptop, so I always load the Logitech driver over the XP driver. The only difference between your system and mine is the video card. I would make sure I had the latest driver loaded from the video card manufacturer.

I think you downloaded a patch or driver you didn’t need- did you install only critical updates, or recommended ones too? WinUpdate doesn’t check to see if you need recommended updates, just if you have them or not, and most are completely useless unless you’re a developer or something of that ilk.

There are a few items which install new services to fix compatibility issues, and some of these can be extreme (as much as 10 megs) memory hogs.

Go to the Control Panel and uninstall ALL your Hotfixes. Depending on which XP build you have, there may be dozens. Then go back to Windows Update and see if any of them are listed as critical updates, and download those again.

What Really Not All That Bright said. In addition though, install them one at a time, and make sure that you reboot your computer after each one. That way, you can discover if there’s a specific hot fix causing you problems and just get rid of that one.

More likely is that you’ve got a worm or virus if you didn’t use a firewall. Adaware, Spybot, MSConfig, ZoneAlarm etc are all your friends.

Thanks, ccwaterback, Really Not All That Bright and Sqube. Uninstalling the Hotfixes really seemed to do the trick. I figured it had to be something in one of the Hotfixes that was slowing things up, but was hoping to find some sort of solution outside of uninstalling the Hotfixes. (It just seems so… well, inelegant, you know?)

And ccwaterback, do you use that Optimizer program on your link? Reason being that I’m reluctant to download and use freeware that I know nothing about.

I’ve seen this same problem. I’ll add to the confusion that I’ve seen it solved by powering down the machine, unplugging, and pressing the “on” button with no power supplied to the system. When plugged in and rebooted after this (bizarre) fix, the system performed normally.

The crawling problem (as near as I could tell) was related to one of the services thrashing the processor. There was no RAM-hogging going on when I spent a half hour pulling up the Task Manager (no exaggeration), just CPU-hogging.

I agree that the Hotfixes are breaking some default service, but in my case, a reboot and a complete power down seems to fix it. If that’s not the case, maybe you could do a tree analysis to save yourself the trouble of a reboot.

I remember an old version of MacOS would do a startup analysis by booting with half of the startup extensions loaded, and then pop up a dialogue asking you if your problem was still happening. If it was, it would boot with half of those items. After four or five reboots, it had narrowed the conflict to which one (or two) extensions were causing the problem. Perhaps you can do a tree analysis like this with the Hotfixes. Say you’ve got 32 of them, you could boot with 1-16, and then 17-32, and then 9-24, and then 1-8 and 25-32. Keep booting different halves of Hotfixes until you find which one (or two) are conflicting.

pull up your task manager (alt+control+delete) and click the proccess tab.
if you arent familar with most of the stuff you see dont worry, you are just looking to see how many things are running in the back ground.

some common hogs that have no place on your pc are
real* (as in player or update)
quicktime crap
theres quite a few out there that will instal and run on start up in the back ground just hogging memory and doing nothing at all good for you or your pc.

if you find some stuff you dont like try this
type “msconfig” and hit enter
click the start up tab
you can disable anything you find running on start up, I dont suggest you do this if you really have no idea whats going on but things like realplayer and quicktime have no reason at all to run on start up. if you need to watch a movie in one of those formats the player will start up when you click the file.

I really wouldn’t recommend any kind of “optimizer” unless you have a 386 that you’re trying to run ‘Doom’ on. With the speed of your system, you shouldn’t require any kind of optimizer, it’s just another loaded program that will hog resources. I would suggest another 256 MB of ram though.

No doubt. I’m learning that 256 megs of RAM just don’t cut the mustard. (And unfortunately, for this model 'puter, I can’t find memory that comes in less than 256 megs per chip, and for two 256-meg chips, it’s gonna run me almost $200. OW.)

Is that buying direct from Dell? A 512MB single stick of DDR333 from is £65 over here at the moment, and the UK isn’t famous for cheap electronics. Depending on your memory type, I would have thought you could get at least a second 256MB stick for well under $100.

It’s actually possible to get decent performance under XP with 256MB - my current PC is a PIII-500 with 256 megs and runs fine for most purposes. It does take a bit of tweaking though, partly by eliminating all the crappy “helper” applications as Critical1 says, but also by going through the Service manager and shutting down the extraneous bits of Windows itself. In particular, the Indexing service makes just about any machine run like a dog, and there’s a lot of network-aware services (depending on XP version) that simply aren’t used unless you’re running on a business network. I found this page useful for chopping out the services that aren’t needed; my PC now takes about 111MB of system memory with no applications running, which leaves plenty for a web browser and a couple of apps.