SSSLLLOOOWWW Computer help

My computer at home is several years old. Two days ago it locked up and it’s been running horribly since then.

It takes 10-15 minutes to boot up.

If you click on dial up networking, it takes about a minute for the “connect” screen to come up.

If you click on My Computer, that takes over a minute to come up.
If you click on Netscape, it takes three to five minutes for it to come up.

Once these things come up, they seem to work ok.

I switch pages in Netscape, and load new ones just as fast as ever.

When you exit Netscape it takes two minutes or so to close.

It seemingly erases the Netscape window line by line.

Everything takes forever to load.

I’m running Windows 98.

I’ve done a thorough Scandisk. I’ve use PCMedic. I reinstalled Windows (without formatting the hard drive, or erasing the old copy.)

I’ve checked for conflicts and bad drivers.

What the hell’s wrong with this thing?

I would first start by downloading Startup Cop from PC magazine and taking a look at what’s loading when you boot up.

Then I would do some reading over at this page. It’s a fairly complete discussion of startup issues (i.e. what needs to load, what you can dump, how Windows uses memory).

My guess is that if you dump some of the carp sucking up precious system resources, you’ll gain some speed back.

Your problem could be many things but I’ll start with the simplest to check first.

This sort of slowdown can often occur when your available disk space gets very low. Either that or your drive is badly fragmented (or both).

Check available disk space on your C: drive. If it is below 100 MB your computer may start acting flaky. Ideally you should have around 300 MB or better free. Delete/uninstall whatever you can to rise above those numbers (first thing to try should be Disk Cleanup under START, PROGRAMS, ACCESORIES, SYSTEM TOOLS). Even if you have a bunch of available disk space run Disk Cleanup anyway and also do the following.

Once you have freed-up all the space you can go to START, PROGRAMS, ACCESORIES, DISK DEFRAGMENTER and run that. Choose to do a Full defragmentation on your C: drive. Depending on your computer, size of the hard drive and a few pther factors this process can take a long time (up to several hours). Let that run and go do something else for awhile. NOTE: Turn off any screen savers before running Disk Defragmenter as well as any other programs out of your system tray.

Let us know if this helps.

I guess I should detail a few other items that might be slowing you down.

Virus – Do you have antivirus software running? Are the virus definition files up-to-date? Try running a complete harddrive scan on ALL files with the latest virus updates if you can.

Spy-Ware – These sorts of things get latched on all the time these days and some are downright brutal on system performance. Go to this web site and download Ad-Aware AND the latest Ad-Aware definition file. Install Ad-Aware and then copy the definition file for Ad-Aware to the same directory Ad-Aware installed in (you’ll know if you put it in the right place because the computer will warn you about overwriting a file…answer YES to that). Run Ad-Aware and have it do a deep scan and complete look at your harddrives. Ad-Aware does its thing pretty quickly and is pretty slick. Get rid of any crap it finds (it will prompt you to check boxes of stuff you want removed).

As Why A Duck mentioned check to see what you all have running at startup. Once your PC has booted hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and see what is all listed in your Task List. If that window os loaded with stuff you may want to consider easing up on what things run automatically at startup. Another indication of this are the icons in your System Tray along the lower right edge of your screen. If there is a ton of stuff there you may have too much going on (NOTE: Not all things that run at startup are indicated in your System Tray but the Task List will show most of what’s running).

Dang…forgot the link to Ad-Aware. Here it is:

Well, it was running fine before that lock-up and the performance massively degraded.

There’s plenty of space on the hard-drive. Although, when I reinstalled Windows it reported that the hard-drive’s space was reported incorrectly and offered to fix it. I let it do it.

I run anti-virus software, as well as ad-aware.

Ow. Might I then suggest that you back up any files you don’t want to lose pronto. Sounds like there may be a problem with one of your system or swap files. Things like that have a habit of getting ugly quickly.

A quick way to tell if it might be a resource issue is to do a Ctrl-Alt-Delete and end all processes except for Explorer and Systray. Do things run a lot faster? If so, something is being a resourse hog. If not, then you might have a more basic disk/OS problem.

I blame the Amish.

What about Defragmenting the drive? You may have lots of free space but if the drive is badly fragmented it will seriously impact performance. The Windows Swap file needs contiguous space to function and if the largest black of contiguous space on your drive is 10 MB your going to have problems no matter how much free space you have.

When you computer is being really slow do you see the harddrive access light blinking furiously? This is an indication of your PC going nuts swapping info into and out of the swap file.

Also, when you did Scandisk did you do a Thorough scan? If not try that to see if there are errors in the media on your drive (this can take awhile as well).

I have a pretty clean startup. Nothing’s running that wasn’t before, and I tried that trick.

Swapfile problem sounds right. That, or a disk problem. I have no idea how to deal with either, though.

Cripes…I should just wait awhile to post since I keep thinking of things 10 seconds after my previous post.

Be sure to run Disk Cleanup. Sometimes if the Temp directory gets really full you can get performance issues. Clean it out. Also clear the cache in your browser…those can get pretty filled up as well and may degrade performance a bit.

Wow. I’m suprised that no one here has asked you to post your computer specs, and instead everyone starts making guesses… so here is my guess…

How old is the computer? How much RAM do you have. If your are short on RAM, then your computer will used the Harddisk as ram (and while HD are pretty fast, they do not eve come close to the speed of RAM)

The reason for the ‘guesses’ is simple. His PC was running fine one day and slow the next. One can safely assume that regardless of the system specs something else is going on here.

However, a memory chip going bad may be a possible issue. Pay attention to how much RAM is reported when the computer posts. You may also want to go into the BIOS to see if the memory is reported there. There are some utilities that will test memory but I’ve always found them of dubious use. I’ve had bad memory that was not reported as bad by a memory test running overnight but it doesn’t hurt to try.

I’ve done disk cleanup, and cache cleanup.

THe computer’s a Pentium II 350 that I put together either in late '97 or early '98

It’s only got 64 mb. of Ram.

I got an 8 gig maxtor hard drive (which I’m not sure Windows is recognizing correctly as to its size,) another 4 gig drive for backing up important stuff, a floppy, a cdrom, a 56k dialup modem, two USB divices (joystick and scanner,) And a Raven Quantum 3d 16mb AGP graphics accelerator (running generic 3dfx drivers for the chipset for the last year.)

I haven’t added anything knew for several weeks before the slowdown, and it was not gradual. I was thinking of adding more memory with the eye to purchasing a new machine soon (keeping this one as a backup/internet machine.)

But, the slowdown was so fast and massive I doubt I can attribute it to lack of RAM.

I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this, but do you have or know anyone with Norton Systemworks? It’s total bloatware, but they’ve got a few kick-butt utilities that may help you. I would use Norton SpeedDisk to defrag the drive and optimize the swapfile, the registry checker (part of Win Doctor) to check for bad mojo, and Disk Doctor to check for a bad disk.

In case you are thinking to buy RAM for your PC today with an eye for using it in a new machine in the future you may want to reconsider. The RAM used in your 97-98 PC is almost certainly of a different type than the RAM you will get if you buy a new machine.

I’m not telling you not to buy RAM for your current machine but rather to just be aware that the investment will likely stay with your current machine.

Yeah, I’m thinking of buying it during lunch, looking for a magic bullet.

No, I’d leave the ram in my current machine.

If I buy a new one,

Dude, I’m getting a DELL.

Ahhh…the pain the pain!

Actaully for home users who don’t want to give their PC a second thought Dells are fine IMO.

However, being a techno weenie myself it is akin to an Indy car drive buying a Toyota Corolla were I to buy a Dell.


– Why A Duck, Dell owner and Corolla driver.


I’d built my last two machines. The thought of doing it again just makes me weary. I just want to take it out of the box and plug it in.