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What makes a PC slow?

By semmelbroesel ·
a client of mine had a bit of spyware that made the computer slow. I removed it all and also used HiJackThis to weed out a few extra programs that do not need to be running all the time.
All the same, the PC (running XP) is still way too slow. Programs don't start immediately.
One game called Luxor was not showing up, but still running in the background according to Task Manager. Once I killed it, the PC ran faster.
But after a few restarts the PC was slow again, and I can't find the cause. All other items in Task Manager or in HiJackThis look very much like legitimate programs, and I've been using HiJackThis for at least half a year nearly weekly.

So what else could make the PC slow, and how could I fix it without reinstalling?

(I hate reinstalling Windows because all settings are lost unless you spend tons of time restoring them all).


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by Black Panther In reply to What makes a PC slow?

Other than clearing out all viruses, adware etc you can also look at other things like.....

Rebooting Often

Search for and delete all files "*.tmp"

Search for all files "temp" Delete the contents of them, do NOT delete the folder.

Go to Control Panel
Click Internet Options
Click "Delete Cookies", click OK, may take a few minutes
Click "Delete Files"
Check "Delete all offline content" click OK, may take a few minutes
Click "Clear History" click Yes, may also take a few minutes

Perform Disk Cleanup checking all boxes except "Compress old files"
Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Clean-up

Run Defrag.
Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter

Check If the Hard disk drive is short on available disk space

Keep at least 25% of each hard drive free. A drive with 10% free space is likely to cause performance problems.

Go into add/remove programs and un-install any unecessary ones.

You are loaded up with programs in your start menu

ie How many icons have loaded on the taskbar - do you need all of those?

Remove the Microsoft Office Task Bar, which runs in the background all the time. You can still run the Microsoft programs when you actually need them.

While screen savers are fun, they may slow programs, causing some to crash. To conserve your screen and to save energy, turn the power off, or use a power-saver feature.

Also you may want to run "msconfig" to reduce the amount of progams running - here is a link explaining

Don't forget an easy way to increase performance is to add more RAM!

If you are playing games you may need to look at buying a Graphics Card.

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by Tempest_Storm In reply to What makes a PC slow?

There are a few things you can do that will hopefully speed things up again for you:

1) Scan your pc for spyware & adaware
2) Scan for viruses
3) Delete temporary files (incl cookies, history and cache)
4) Uninstall/Delete any programs you don't need (incl any unused windows components)
5) Run defrag on your Hard Drive

If you have had spyware and other warez software on your pc defragging is usually a good idea. Some spyware (and legitimate software to be fair) puts different files in different places on your hard drive. The Hard drive then takes ages to access this data. If you defrag the drive it will put data together and you access this data quicker - Hence your pc speeds up.

See how you get on with those steps

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by ITgirli In reply to What makes a PC slow?

What they said. Clean out the %temp% and prefetch, defrag, make sure there's nothing funny in the registry, virus scan a few times, make sure there are no unnecessary programs. Also check your performance options. Have as little on there as possible.

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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to What makes a PC slow?

As said above and delete any unnecessary Icons from the desktop as these all consume system resources and run Defrag often as this will organize the files on the HDD better you can find this in the System Utilities in the start menu. Just click on start then go to all Programs then Accessories and then System Tools, you'll find defrag there.

Kill any programs that really are not necessary like any Instant messaging programs that run in the background and if that doesn't cure your problems then try downloading System Mechanic 5 {not the Pro version} from

and run it to clean up the registry and generally clean up the HDD. That is a 30 day fully functioning trial version which you can buy if it helps you or improves your system a lot it is a useful tool to have anyway or you could try Norton's Win Doctor if you have a copy of Norton's System Works handy.

But from your description it sounds like there is something running in the background which is hogging system resources is this computer constantly connected to the Internet? If it is it could have been taken over and being used as a bot to send Spam or other junk. If this is the case most likely the AV program will have been disabled at least to the point where it fails to recognize the program that is running in the background. You could try a few different AV programs and scan the computer as well as Spybot and Adaware which seem to pickup most of the spy ware that is clogging computers today.

Lets know how you get on.


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by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to

Also you didn't mention if SP2 for XP has been installed if it has try removing it and see if that improves things there could be some basic hardware conflicts arising and while not severe enough to stop the computer booting is slowing it down considerably by chewing up Clock Cycles trying to process unnecessary data.

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by semmelbroesel In reply to What makes a PC slow?

Woops, right, I forgot to mention this:
The PC ran a lot faster and more stable BEFORE SP2 was installed on it!
So now it has SP2 and is slower than before...

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by parvus1202 In reply to What makes a PC slow?

If you take a look at Task manager/processes, if the computer is idle then system idle under CPU should be 98-99, if not then see which program is running at 98-99, there is your culprit.

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