How to troubleshoot what's slowing down a Windows XP machine

By stensland · 10 replies
Sep 27, 2010
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  1. So I have a windows XP machine, and as the stereotype goes the machine after years of use is so bogged down that windows will hang for up to 30 seconds, accessing most programs seems to strain the machine, and the overall performance is not in line with what it use to be. What sort of things slow down XP, and what sort of things can be done to counteract that as best as possible?
  2. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Some things I would check first:

    1. How is your free-space on your hard drive?
    • use your hard-drive tools: windows explorer, right click on the drive, select properties,
    • the general tab will let you see (graphically and numerically) used vs free space. Should have a minimum of 10% free space.
    • use the tools tab to access defragmentation, and "clean-up" tools.

    2. How large is your swapfile. Generally you should have this set to about the same as your ram.

    3. What is running at startup? There are many apps that are resource hogs. Tools that may help analyze what it using up your clock cycles...
    • Windows Task Manager - (ctrl-alt-del). In processes, you should probably only have about 28-35 processes running at start-up, depending on your configuration. In the APplications tab you can see what apps are running. Can any of these be lived without, or can you wait until you need them to start them.
    • Process Explorer (by Sysinternals) is a little more complicated tool that does some similar things and more. One thing you can do with it you can suspend a process, in order to test if that is the one slowing your system.
    • Many processes are essential, some are desirable (provided desired function), and some are simply hogs. If you want help sorting it out, someone here can help.
    4. Are you certain you are free of malware? Most malware is pretty good at hiding, so Process Explorer and Windows Task Manager may not be able to see it.
  3. stensland

    stensland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    None of the machines have more than about 20% of their harddrive space taken up. The one that seems to be going excessively slow has not even 40GB of it's 700GB drive in use.
    I've checked with Comodo for viruses and the like and they are all clean. I will look through the start-up processes though, not sure why I didn't think of that earlier -_-
  4. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Curious ... Running xp... is that 700gb drive partitioned into logical drives?

    And it sounds like you have several machines with the issues?

    Let us know if you want more help sorting it out.

    A thought... are all these slow machines networked?
    If so you might try changing NIC settings (slower).

    Windows Explorer -> Tools - Folder Options -> View
    Uncheck the box for “Automatically search for network folders and printers”, and close the dialog.
  5. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

  6. stensland

    stensland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    Thanks to everyone and the poster of the guide that ravisunny2 linked. The machines are running much smoother now, there were multiple registry errors on all of them, the disks needed to be defragged (one of the PCs looked like it had actually been fragged, you know.... with a pineapple grenade) there was a plethora of temp data, and I was lucky enough to not have to do anything more intensive than that to get them back to working condition. Well i did turn down the effects on the desktops of the machines as well, seemed to help a bit more.
    Thanks again,

  7. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    You're welcome.
  8. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12


    Some registry cleaning & defragging can do wonders.
  9. stensland

    stensland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    ravisunny2, is that Mt. Hood in your display picture?
  10. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    No, that is Mount Naini (Sub-Himalayan Range). :)

    I went to school there. Lovely place.
  11. stensland

    stensland TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 52

    Ok, so I was a bit off...
    I swear that looks like Mt. Hood in Oregon.

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