Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Windows XP Is Running Slower Than Usual Checklist Part I (Basic Level)

Had a client phone today saying his XP Pro machines seemed to be running slower than when they purchased them, This is a problem I hear all the time and sent him the following. After doing so I thought it may also be of help to other people with this issue.

I will follow it up next week with more advanced tips

Please leave comments as you wish and if this document helps in anyway please feel free to visit My Sponsors. :-)

1. Check that you are not running out of disk space, I always make sure I have ¼ of my Hard Disk Drives Total Capacity free. To check the disk space Double Click “My Computer” on the desktop the right click the Local Disk (C:) and select properties, a pie chart should be show as below.

The information on this chart speaks for its self.

If you are running low on disk space then maybe archiving some data (i.e. MP3, Pics, Films, etc) to CD if you have a burner may be in order.

At this stage you should also try to clear out your temp files for this I use CCleaner you can get this for FREE here

2. Make sure your PC is Virus and Spyware free. If you do not have a scanner for each of these you could download one of each using the links below or find one for yourself.

Free Virus Protection:




Free Spyware Removal:




3. Check if any processes are running typically high on CPU usage. To do this first close all open programs and then press Ctrl-Alt-Del together and select Taskmanager Button the select the processes tab, If you then click the CPU header so that it sorts in Descending order and look for any items than are still using the CPU (ignore the one called system idle process, they higher this is the better) see below

once you have found any CPU hungry processes then you can try searching for the process name on Google to find out what it is and what it does and if it can be terminated to see if the machine speeds up. (to terminate a process right click and select end process.

3. Use MSconfig to temporarily disable items from starting up. To run MSconfig click the start button, select RUN and type msconfig in the run box and then OK up will come MSconfig, see below

If you click the startup tab you will see a similar screen as above. You can then try unticking various items and restarting to see if it is one item in particular that is causing your issues. (Be careful if you disable your Anti Virus software do not open any files or download/open any emails, also if you disable your Firewall do not connect to the internet during this testing phase) if you have unchecked all these and machine is still running slow you can put the ticks back in.

You can also stop services from starting using this tool to further help in diagnosing your speed issues.

By clicking the services tab (See pic above) and checking the box “Hide all Microsoft Services” (this is so you don’t stop a critical MS service) you can uncheck a service one by one and restart your machine (Be careful if you disable your Anti Virus software do not open any files or download/open any emails, also if you disable your Firewall do not connect to the internet during this testing phase)

Although this process can be time consuming it can be very helpful in sorting your speed problem.

Although I would not recommend you play around with the Microsoft services I have known a few services to slow machines down in the past which you could try stopping temporally these are as follows.

Background Intelligent Transfer Service
SSDP Discovery Service
Universal Plug And Play Device Host

To stop/start services in Windows click start, RUN and type services.msc then click OK you can then right click the service you would like to stop and select stop service
If this makes no difference in speed then right click and start it up again.

The above information may fix your problem or at least give you a clue as to what is causing the issue.
I also have a post i wrote earlier that may also be of general help its here.
Part II of this post is now online to view it click here.
The information given above is as guidance only and the author cannot be responsible for any problems or data loss this guidance may cause


Nice useful and well explained post. I’ve found your blog in the comment you wrote at Microsoft’s post on slow computer. My computer is very slow too, but with a different behaviour. So I’ve tried what you wrote without making it any faster. Ccleaner helps the job because before having it I worked out some batch files to do the cleaning up jobs effectively, but with Ccleaner it is much easier; the disk cleaner in the drive properties cleans only a part of the trash. I thought you might be kind and give me an idea on what I could do to improve speed and stop this slow motion XP Prof computer.

I reformatted the disk and rebuilt the software recently. My boot disk is over 70% free presently. I have a second hard disk that I use for backups when possible because I find it much easier making backups directly inside the computer than using CDs or DVDs. I use the AVGs (virus and spy ware tools) you refer. However, I don’t like very much their writing on the e-mails. I also use Zone Alarm’s fire wall. Shortly after rebuilding, it started slowing down. I noticed that Google Desktop was contributing efficiently for the slow down and turned it off. But it was not only that, and the slowness is in a very strange way.

It is not always slower; it is only when I have several programs running simultaneously and as described below. The CPU does get very busy, but occasionally only, some times with programs that generate problems that may resolve themselves or I resolve them and it comes back to normal. What is strange is that slowness is independent of the processor state, and usually it is not so busy when it occurs. When the computer slows down, is the hard disk that gets busy (its red LED keeps on while the computer almost stops).

It slows down gradually but quickly when I start using Excel, Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2.0.3, which are what slow it down more drastically. When I close a window it seems to peal down like pealing paint from a wall! With Firefox, for instance, when I change tabs it takes a long time to change, not responding, the disk very busy, and the processor normal. When I click the mouse, the same thing happens. Most often, the hour glass appears showing the computer is busy. In these occasions, when I click on an internet shortcut (on the desktop, for instance), it takes so long to work that I receive a message saying the browser was not found or a window opens to choose the browser.

I know I do not have memory enough, but I can watch its use with FreeRam. It never goes down to zero. To avoid it I have it set to free some RAM if it gets really low. When I use the browser, the memory load does often go over 50%, but this is not enough to slowit down so drastically.

As you see, I am at a lost, unable to try something to fix the problem because I do not know its origin. From this so very long description, would you kindly have a suggestion? Thank you.

Thanks for replying.
I have very little RAM, I know, 256MB, but I do not use games or any other memory demanding graphics. As a matter of fact, this was the source of the problem that made me partition and reformat the booting disk. I added another 256MB, but it corrupted the boot sector, the FAT and what else. I have not yet added all the programs I had before; therefore, I need even less RAM at the moment. What I described about Firefox and Excel also happens to Microsoft Outlook. When it gets really bad it becomes the same with every program, but those are the worst, headed by Firefox. I think the Firefox case is because browsers demand more resources. I do not use IE6, but I’ve tried and the least I can say is that the result was not much better. I have plenty of free disk space, so I have always allowed the system to manage the page file. Presently it has 670MB allocated to each of the two disks.

Now, I am not planning to add more RAM because I am considering the possibility of changing processor, mother board and memory. I am not yet sure. What I am sure is that I have never had problems for so many years until I changed to Windows XP Professional. Problems of all sorts, and this one now is new. I am even considering changing to Linux or Unix.

Thank you for your help.


Glad to have your comments

I was in the process of writing a Part II to the Post which covered this sort of issue i have posted that part here, let me know if it helps

New Post

Sorry The Links Is Here

This Link Works

Thank for your tips.I following this artilce step and i very happy my com fast.

Windows XP Tips