TechSpot

Performance degrading on XP

By Doug8765
Sep 26, 2009
  1. Hi -
    I have Windows XP. I believe it is current with all the appropriate patches. I run BitDefender for protection. I use PC Tools Registry Mechanic to keep the registry current. I have 2Gig of memory. I keep as much stuff as possible out of the startup, but this email isn't about startup.

    I find that apps keep taking longer and longer to load. Especially Mozilla, which I usually have about 6-9 copies running. It is normal for Mozilla to take more than 1 minute to load and often going to a new page on a website takes a minute to load.

    What can I do to speed this up? I'd like this computer to last until Windows 7 - if that turns out to be a good option.

    I appreciate your help.

    Doug
     
  2. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,393   +108

    What are you using for those pest that slow down the system.

    Trojans
    Virus
    Adware
    Spyware
    Cloak-malware (worst one of the bunch)

    Are you using a firewall? or Some sort of security suite?
    Make sure you defrag once a week to keep that HDD spinning freely.\
    Blow out the dust in the CPU hinksink and power supply unit.
     
  3. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    This is what's slowing the system down. You only need ONE launch of Firefox. Set up tabs for each of the sites you want. Set it to load as your homepage- but only launch Firefox ONCE!

    Are you running the BitDefender Security Suite with AV, firewall, antimalware, antispam, etc> if so>

    Additionally, check this:
    Start> Run> type in msconfig> enter> Selective startup> Startup menu> UNCHECK everything except the AV program and the firewall. If it's a laptop, leave process for Touchpad- nothing else> Apply> OK

    Reboot> Ignore and close nag message after checking 'don't show message again.' Stay in Selective Startup.

    If you are NOT using the BD suite, then you are very likely loaded with malware. It could still be an issue. Please let us know result of above.
     
  4. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi Bobbye -
    I need to know more about msconfig - Selective Startup. I see checkboxes for 1) Process System.ini File, 2) Process Win.ini File, 3) Load System Services, 4) Load Startup Items plus a radio button for Use Original Boot.ini. None of them says anything about an AV program (antivirus?) or a firewall. (No, it is not a laptop.)

    BTW, I run malwarebytes often and just did before typing this reply. It found nothing in a complete scan of both drive and backup drive.

    I will change the FireFox setup to use tabs.

    Please tell me more about msconfig. Thank you very much.

    Doug
     
  5. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Msconfig

    Doug, when you access the msconfig utility, it is usually on the General tab. On that screen, you check Selective Startup> everything below that should be checked EXCEPT the "Load the Startup Items".

    [​IMG]

    Once that is done, click on the Startup tab> here's what you'll see:

    [​IMG]

    IF you need to expand the Command Column, (this shows what the process 'belongs' to) hold left mouse button down on the dividing line on from next to Location and move to the right to expand.

    This is where you UNCHECK the Startup items. This does not remove the item or uninstall anything> it just stops it from starting on boot. IT can be rechecked at any time if wanted. You don't do anything on the other tabs. When through> Apply> OK

    When you reboot the system the first time after making changes, a nag message comes up that can be ignored and closed after checking 'don't show this message again.' Stay in Selective Startup to retain the changes.

    Once you make changes to the Startup menu, you must remain in Selective Startup to retain those changed. If you go back to Normal Startup, everything you unchecked will be checked again and start on boot.

    Let me know if you need more help.
     
  6. T77

    T77 TS Enthusiast Posts: 300   +6

    you can use ccleaner to clean the crap out of your computer & pls make use of tabs in firefox.
    you may need to go in for a new computer
    good luck!
     
  7. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi -
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I use ccleaner sometimes but not too often. Basically, anytime I find anything I don't like then I run the full routine of search-and-destroy found elsewhere on this site. It has the name "8-step Viruses/Spyware/Malware Preliminary Removal Instructions". I haven't had to run it for quite awhile. That's the main time I run ccleaner. It took me a long time to find this site and that set of instructions is the reason I come back again and again. I periodically - mostly on the weekends - run Malwarebytes with a full scan because I like the feedback that says it found nothing.

    I now use tabs in Firefox. Thank you for that one. I think I was being stubborn about that.

    I now use the Selective Startup - with BitDefender the main things that still run. I found that bdagent.exe is not necessary (supposedly) if you don't have multiple user accounts. I will keep running bdagent.exe, but I eliminated all the other user accounts because I really am the only user so why keep the other accounts around and the machine loads faster.

    I do run Disk Defragmenter - the one that comes with Windows XP, but it tells me "You do not need to defragment this volume." So I don't.

    I get the impression from this interplay that none of you thinks that running a registry optimizer everyday is going to make much difference. I haven't seen a difference yet. Seems like a good idea. Am I wasting my time with Registry Mechanic?

    I will get good feedback on how much better the machine runs during my Monday through Friday work days. That's when everything is running at the same time.

    Here's a pain-in-the-butt problem and the reason I started working on performance. During my workday, when I have everything running at the same time (database, multiple Excel spreadsheets, java apps, proprietary platform apps and mspaint), sometimes the taskbar freezes up so that even if I kill all the apps and nothing is running the taskbar still has them all showing. The frequency is increasing - Friday it happened three times and that really slows down my work. The only fix is to reboot from the Windows Task Manager. Any ideas?

    Many thanks. Any other advice will be much appreciated.

    Doug
     
  8. Jawshh

    Jawshh TS Enthusiast Posts: 392

    I personally think Registry Mechanic is garbage(I used to call it scam). I do these steps to keep my pc running fine:

    1. Scan for Malware once a week(usually saturdays),

    2. Check for new startup programs and services once a week.(msconfig for startup and services.msc for services)

    3. Clean windows first with disk cleanup utility then with ccleaner everyday.

    4. Clean and compact Registry. Clean with ccleaner and compact with NTRegOpt once a week.

    5. Run a disk check with disk check utility.

    6. Defragment HDDs, I personally use PerfectDisk 10 and I believe its the best. Thrice a week.

    Links:

    NTRegOpt http://www.larshederer.homepage.t-online.de/erunt/

    PerfectDisk http://www.perfectdisk.com/products/home-perfectdisk10-home-edition/learn-more
     
  9. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi Jawshh -
    That seems quite manageable.

    Any insight into the problem of the taskbar freeze-up? I will find out during my workday whether that problem is solved.

    Doug
     
  10. Jawshh

    Jawshh TS Enthusiast Posts: 392

    What's your processor?
     
  11. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    If you are doing that level of multi-tasking, I would think the freeze is because there is no available RAM. When you are forced to reboot, it frees the RAM and the cycle starts again.

    If this is happening frequently, do a review of what you are running vs what you need to run at the same time.

    I think you will like the tabs. You can right click on any tabs at any time and handle it individually- You're not 'stuck' with that set of tabs.

    I don't do near the scanning that Jawshh is recommending. but that's based on my usage. His #1, 3 and 6 are reasonable. Most of us don't recommend ANY Registry program. Not a lot of user have enough experience to know what really needs to be removed. It has been shown frequently that using a Registry cleaner doesn't appreciably affect the system.

    An easy way to track down what's happening when the Taskbar freezes is to use the Event Viewer: Note the time of the freeze, then see if there is any Error corresponding to that time:

    Start> Run> type in eventvwr

    Do this on each the System and the Applications logs:
    [1]. Click to open the log>
    [2]. Look for the Error>
    [3] .Right click on the Error> Properties>
    [4]. Click on Copy button, top right, below the down arrow >
    [5]. Paste here (Ctrl V)
    [6].NOTES
    • You can ignore Warnings and Information Events.
    • If you have a recurring Error with same ID#, same Source and same Description, only one copy is needed.
    • You don't need to include the lines of code in the box below the Description, if any.
    • Please do not copy the entire Event log.

    Errors are time coded. Check the computer clock on freeze.

    But you know- I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say 'the Taskbar freezes.'
     
  12. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hello Bobbye -
    I will look into the instructions you write for EventMgr. I have not used that before, but I usually know pretty closely when the taskbar freezes. Will I know what I am reading? Do the error logs survive the reboot?

    I don't wish to sound too elementary, but the taskbar (I am attaching a not-busy taskbar picture to this post) has - on the far left - the Start button. Next it has the launch icons for apps that I use often. Next are the icons for all the current apps running. Then the background apps (I don't know the correct term - I think it is called a tray) and last is the clock. I thought the whole thing was the taskbar. Anyway, when it freezes it is dead to the mouse. I can kill all the running apps but they all still show in the taskbar like absolutely nothing changed. It seems to have something to do with browsers - IE or Firefox. I reboot using the Windows Task Manager.

    About my processor, I attached another picture. This one has the System Properties, which includes the name of the processor plus other assorted facts which may or may not be useful.

    My life gets busy Monday morning until late Wednesday night, so you may not hear anything from me again until Saturday or Sunday. Does not mean everything is hunky dory or that I have implemented everything we have talked about, but I will be working on it. One world at a time.

    I will definitely read and respond to other responses.

    Many thanks. Many thanks.

    Doug Roberts
     
  13. Jawshh

    Jawshh TS Enthusiast Posts: 392

    Only dead entries are removed during this process.

    Doug8765 are you mixing up different RAM modules?
     
  14. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Okay, you're good on the properties- enough RAM if it's all good.

    By definition from Microsoft, the Taskbar is 'special toolbar' that docks on an edge of the desktop supplied by the system. The taskbar includes the Start button, the Quick Launch Toolbar if enabled, a button for each open primary window, and a status area (Notification Area).

    The area to the right of the Start button is where the Quick Launch Toolbar goes. The Quick Launch bar is a list of shortcuts to your favorite programs. I count 21 shortcuts in yours. This is way too many! Get that down to a more reasonable number. You have so many that there is no room for icons to display in the Notification Area (by the clock). You would have to click on the << to see what's there.

    I can't ID all of them- please name the ones in between the following and/or correct any I have named> starting at the far left of the QL toolbar:
    Firefox
    Internet Explorer
    ?
    Notepad
    ?
    Word
    x
    x
    x
    x
    x
    x
    Windows XP?
    x
    x
    Browser?
    Windows Media Player
    Browser?
    Command Screen
    x
    Paint
    Thunderbird?

    Windows XP introduced Taskbar grouping, which can group the Taskbar buttons of several windows from the same application into a single button. So you see only a small up and down arrow to the left of the Notification Area. You must click on one of those arrow to access pages that are 'stacked'. It does not appear that you are using this feature.

    You currently have pages open for the OEC Trader, a course folder, Excel and Files to Update. Is there anything else running?

    I think if we can get the display down to a reasonable size, it will help.

    As for the Event Viewer, the reason for you to copy and paste an Error is so I can help review and resolve it. It's an excellent tool for more information related to troubleshooting. The Error will have a red circle with a white X- you will not have any problem seeing them.
     
  15. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi Bobbye and Jawshh -
    • Since implementing key changes described in this thread I have not had a taskbar freezeup. That's been a week. So I have not had to resort to the Event Manager.
    • I have to type in member names and passwords much more often, but apps are running faster. I would say much faster.
    • Yes, indeed, the tabs work fine. Duhhh, didn't think it made a difference, but it apparently does.
    • I removed some of the taskbar shortcuts. The current set: Firefox, IE, Windows Explorer, Notepad, MS Word, Excel, Excel loading one file, Excel loading a different file, MS Paint, files to update, OEC Trader, Dos Command box, quote retrieval app. Doing this did not seem to make the Notification Area (near the system) clock any larger.
    • I run ccleaner very often now. Also the Disk Cleanup app that comes with Windows XP. I am trying out PerfectDisk and don't know what the big deal is with it. Why does it need to run all the time?
    • Jawshh point #3 says to use - daily - ccleaner *and* a disk cleanup utility. What disk cleanup utility? What should it do?
    • Jawshh's point #5: What does the disk check utility do - if it is different than Perfect Disk, Disk Cleanup, ccleaner and the disk cleanup utility? Obviously I have underestimated disk husbandry.
    • I am running NTRegOpt - at least weekly. I frequently run Malware - at least weekly.
    • I think that you meant - in your comment about taskbar grouping - that if I have 3 copies of Excel or Paint running, that they are stacked and I click on the taskbar button for that app to get the particular instance of the app. Yes, I do this.
    • Yes, I am now paying more attention to the Startup panel of msconfig. I uncheck stuff that gets onto that panel with a check. I found an app - Security Task Manager - that tells me what is actually running. It has proved useful.
    • Yes, I am now running services.msc more often. Not sure what to do, but I am trying to change them to manual to get them out.
    • I did find that (can't remember them now) that some things turned up as running that don't appear to show on the Windows Task Manager. Security Task Manager helped me with that. Don't know why it does not seem to show up anywhere and I have to uninstall to kill them. Guess they are not that important if uninstalling is an option.

    That's all I can think of now. I'll remember more as soon as I press Submit.

    Many thanks. I look forward to responses from you both.
    Doug
     
  16. Jawshh

    Jawshh TS Enthusiast Posts: 392

    PerfectDisk makes sure that all parts of your hard drive is defragmented. You can disable stealth patrol if you want, its unnecessary as long as you defrag thrice a week.

    Disk cleanup utility is the cleanup utility that comes with windows. Its reachable when you right click a drive and click cleanup.

    Disk check utility will make sure that you don't have errors on your drives.

    Do not attempt to manually configure a service unless you know what you are doing. check this out http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm . Only use the DEFAULT Pro config.
     
  17. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Just so you know the difference: The icons in the Quick Launch Toolbar to the right of the Start button are shortcuts for convenience only- but the icons in the Notification area by the clock indicate running programs or apps.

    About CCleaner and passwords: there is a section in it that you have to UNCHECK if you do not want your Cookies removed. Registrations and passwords are stored in these. If you let CCleaner delete them, you will have to renter them.

    "What disk cleanup utility?" This is Disk Cleanup app that comes with Windows XP

    Perfect Disk is a defrag utility. Normally you should only need to run this about once a month.

    You still have an excess of shortcuts in the Quick Launch Toolbar. You always have the option of clicking on App Programs and starting a program from there.
    You can also access Windows Explorer using a right click on the Taskbar> Explore.

    The "stacking" on the Taskbar just groups similar programs. It's use is not so that you can have multiple copies of Paint or Excel running, so If you are running multiple copies, that's part of your loss.

    Some suggestions:
    1. Only put shortcuts for those programs or apps you use regularly in the QuickLaunch Toolbar.
    2. Launch other programs or apps through All Programs.
    3. Don't put Excel file copies as shortcuts. Open Excel through All Programs as you need it when you need it.
    4. Tabs will become your new best friend! You can set up your homepage to load with the tabs if you want. Mine opens with 7 sites to go to frequently every day.
    5. Set the Services and then don't bother with them! To change, best to use Safe Mode. Use the BlackViper site for reference. ALWAYS check the Dependency tab. You shouldn't have to use services.msc often- set them and forget them!
    6. Keep the Startup menu lean: antivirus and firewall only- process for touchpad if on laptop> nothing else.
    7. Use Windows Explorer to set up your file system. Get in the habit of saving files to the correct location. Don't keep a shortcut for 'files to update'- you'll get behind. Do them right the first time.
    8. This concerns me:
    We don't like to have things running we can't identify. And they can be VERY important if they can be uninstalled. Sometimes malware fits into this category.

    As for the maintenance:
    Defrag 1x month
    Disc cleanup 1x week or 10 days
    CCleaner> I don't use
    Security scan each 1 x week, none on startup
    Use as many apps and utilities as available in the operating system. Only download third party when you don't think the job is getting done otherwise.
     
  18. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi Bobbye -
    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    I remember what it was that did not show up in Windows Task Manager:
    • I installed a free (pre-Vista) version of Snag-It (Snag-It 7). When I first installed it I did not uncheck a box that causes it to run all the time. I did not know about that checkbox, but found Snag-It to be running via Windows Task Manager (the Processes panel). I uninstalled it since I did not wish to use memory for something that was not essential.
    • A friend told me about the checkbox - that I could cause it to not run all the time. So I re-installed Snag-It 7. It did not subsequently show up in Windows Task Manager (the Processes panel), but I never used the app even though it was installed.
    • In the course of stripping out stuff, trying out the suggestions that you kind people proposed, I tried out the app called Security Task Manager. It showed that although Windows Task Manager - the processes panel - had nothing about Snag-It running, that indeed there was a component of Snag-It running. I uninstalled Snag-It and Security Task Manager then reported that it was not there.

    I have to assume from the previous set of steps that somehow Windows Task Manager processes panel does not tell me about everything running on my computer. Also, I run a couple processes of Microsoft SQL Server and - even if the process is 600-900 meg of memory - that sometimes it does not show up on the Windows Task Manager processes panel. It did it at least once. I looked all over for the process because I knew it was running - I manually started it.

    Thank you for the suggestions.
    Doug
     
  19. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Doug, you do not have to uninstall anything to stop it from starting on boot and running in the background! (the exception might be malware, but I am not going to address that issue)You begin my unchecking the process(es)for it on the Startup menu, using the msconfig utility. I have already showed you how to do that.

    Some programs will add a Service when they are installed and the Service is usually set to Automatic. This means that whenever you boot, the Service will start the program. This is controlled by 1. changing the Startup type of a Service to Manual so that it will only start and run when it is needed or 2. Disabling the Services if it is not needed and has no other Services that depend on it to run.

    The third was to control is to open the program itself- look for any 'auto-update' setting. (Java, Adobe). If that is checked, the process WILL start on boot, run in he background and contact the internet throughout the day 'looking for updates'. You do not need to have anything on auto-update except the antivirus program. All others can be checked periodically and updated as needed.

    If there is a program that you have installed and use once in a while, leave it installed, but use one or more of the above to prevent it from starting on boot and running in the background.

    It is a good idea to check out the Task Manager once in a while- if you ever see anything running that you don't recognize, search and identify it. If it's a legit program but you aren't using it at this time, you can uncheck it on the Startup menu, then use All Programs to launch when needed.

    A lot of users put the printers and scanners on startup. They do not ever need to start on boot. Print can be accessed at any time with either a right click of the mouse or through File. IT does not need to start on boot- ever.

    And one more comment, I think a defrag 3 times a week is great overkill. No one NEEDS to defrag that often. If anyone finds files in such bad shape as to need a defrag that often then something is wrong with how the files are being handled. I load and unload, install and uninstall, search, set up files and folders all day every day. I check the defrag about once a month- even then it's not needed but I run it through anyway.

    Once you get the system running the best for your needs and the security programs set as you want, sit back and enjoy running the system- keep in mind that you can exercise as much-or a little-control over it as you want/need.
     
  20. Doug8765

    Doug8765 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 189

    Hi Bobbye -
    Great. Useful. As long as the computer runs fast and does not crash then I am happy.

    Many thanks.

    Doug
     
  21. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    You're welcome Doug.

    Recipe for a well-running system: :chef: Treat it nice, be sure it has the tools it needs, don't overburden it with excess baggage, get rid of the 'stuff it's not using, (don't forget to take out the trash), okay to snap at it once in a while but remember it's not the system that's the problem- it's what it has to put up with!

    Results: well running fast system with no crashes and happy user! :cool:
     
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