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How to speed up slow PC's?

Hello All

I have to administer several PC's (all running MS Windows XP SP2), some of which boot and run very slowly (considering the hardware).

I guess the best way to speed them up is to:

1. Examine the startup entries using MSConfig, and prune any that are unnecessary.
2. Use the task manager to look for any unnecessary processes running once the PC has finished the startup process.

Can anyone confirm, improve or give any hints on doing this in a time efficient way?

My concern is that I may have to spend a lot of time identifying startup entries and processes in order to decide whether they are needed or not.

Thanks for your help.
When using MSConfig you *can* cause some trouble on your pc, so be careful...

Ehm...defragment your drive(s) aswel...that helps


  • You don't have enough free RAM - you should have a minimum of 32 megabytes for Windows 95 and Windows 98, 64 MB for Windows Me, and 128 MB for Windows 2000, and 256 MB for Windows XP. More is better.
  • Your hard disk is too slow - try optimizing it using Defrag. If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to invest in a new, fast, huge hard disk.
  • You don't have enough free disk space for a swapfile - you should have a minimum of 3 megabytes of free disk space for each megabyte of system RAM.
  • You have 850 fonts installed. If you can survive without all those fonts, try removing 600-700 of them to see if that makes a difference.
  • Your network drivers (LAN, Dial-up Networking) take too long to load - try disabling them to see if it makes a difference.
  • Too many programs are being loaded at startup - check your Startup folder and eliminate any unneeded shortcuts.

Here's the low down on speeding up your Windows XP machine:

1) Clean up startup entries. I recommend using HijackThis or System Security Suite. Feel free to reply with your HijackThis log for assistance.

2) Disable some windows services using services.msc from run... on the startup menu. Depending on the usage of your PC, you may be able to disable several services. Be cautious when disabling services as some windows components and softwares may require certain services. If the computer is stand-alone and does not "Network" with other computers on a Local Network, then you can disable Server, TCP/IP NetBIOS helper, Workstation, and Computer Browser. I have also disable Alerter, ClipBook, Fax, HID, Messenger, Network DDE (and DSDM), Protected Storage, Routing and Remote Access, Security Center, SSDP Discovery service, System Restore Service (make sure to turn off on all drivers from System Properties > System Restore tab), Universal Plug and Play Device Host, WebClient, and Wireless Zero config. Also consider DCOM server, DNS client, Error Reporting, Help and Support, Themes, and Secondary Logon. However, if you are not sure, just leave them be.

3) Use System Security Suite to clean up Temporary files as well as Temporary Internet files. This program cleans up files per user, so if you have multiple users, then you will have to run the program for each user. There are several other options available as well, but Temporary files are the most important to clean up.

4) In System Properties (from the control panel or right click on My Computer and select Properties), click Advanced tab, and click Settings button under Performance. Here you can customize visual effects. I would recommend selecting "adjust for best performance." Doing so would take away the Windows XP bubbly window look, which isn't really necessary. This will speed up your system considerably!

5) Defragment your system after removing Temporary files.

6) Enter your bios to select Hard Drive as the first boot device. This will slightly increase boot speed. There are other options like disabling floppy seek on boot.

7) Norton Internet Security and Mcafee Internet Security are memory and processor hogs especially on startup for Norton. Consider TrendMicro, AVG, or Avast.

Cool If colors are not very important, then you can set your color quality in Display Properties (control panel) under settings tab. Reduce this to 256 colors at the minimum. You may also reduce your resolution to 800 x 600. This can increase performance and free up some memory.
1) Defrag.
2) Clean up any unnecessary thing by using CCleaner download here.
3) Remove all unnecessary things out of the startup folder in Start > All Programs then the registry (As in startup things in the registry.)
Check out the processes running under 'windows task manager' and also the performace bar for CPU usage. If the CPU is constantly running above 50%, then you have a process that's eating up the processor. I experienced this issue when installating OfficeStation on the host. Due to software conflict, the CPU usage bar was always above 95%.

Also, unless you have a bare Windows XP installation with maybe just MS office, you're better off having at least 512MB RAM. The change is definately noticable.

If you have a registry cleaner... run it. Microsoft's free RegClean (don't know if you still can find it online) works fine.
Also, unless you have a bare Windows XP installation with maybe just MS office, you're better off having at least 512MB RAM. The change is definately noticable.

Unless you need to be thrifty and are able to strip down your software to run smoothly with only 64MB of RAm like I have, then don't just get more RAM.

If you have a registry cleaner... run it. Microsoft's free RegClean (don't know if you still can find it online) works fine.

RegClean only works on Win98/ME, so don't bother with this one. Also, be aware of registry cleaning software, they seldom speed up your computer to a noticeable degree and are always prone to causing issues because of the nature of windows registry. Though you can clean some portions without hesitation.[/quote]
1) Do the computers all have the same hardware? Which?
2) Do the Windows installations seem polluted to you, with a lot of software installed, and/or running in the taskbar?
3) Is it possible for you to do a clean reinstall of XP SP2 (considering available time)?
Try of those windows unnatended editions, I installed a Suricatta version, somehow Surfiction labeled, it worked over a Pentium III 500 mhz, with 256 mb ram and a 4.2 gb hhdd just fine... even a little fast.
All very good advice on here.

Other things to try are:

1. Download and install the program System Mechanic Pro. It's an excellent program and has made a massive difference to the speed of PCs I've installed it on.

2. Install more RAM.

3. Remove programs you don't use anymore, or program built into windows you don't use (games etc)

4. One people overlook is when they get rid of old hardware they forget to remove the drivers. You should do this.

You can try a viarety of programs out there.

They have CCleaner. FREE!TOTALLY! AWESOME PROGRAM! Clean your computer once a day. When your done using it will be nice.
The reason why you should clean it is this. Once a hard drive builds up, it has about 90% of the hard drive free. You got like 50% with all junk files. Those junk files should be deleted. When a program starts, it has trouble finding its partners(files). Junk files are all scattered on the hard drive. Once you delete them, and you open a program, it has an easier time trying to find its files. Becuase, with the junk files, that one file you open up, say is iTunes. itunes.exe is trying to find its DLLs and its themes. So, it starts looking in old temperary internet files. And it keeps on going. You HAVE to delete them asap.

Registry- CCleaner has an free registry cleaner. Clean your registry. Usually when you uninstall a program, it does NOT touch registry keys. So, there are some keys that are NEVER used anymore. So, delete them!

CCleaner has VERY more features. I URGE you to download CCleaner now, and take my advice and see the difference.

Hope it works.
I've heard a lot about CCLeaner, and have downloaded it, but never got round to installing it. Perhaps I will Wink
welshsteve wrote:
I've heard a lot about CCLeaner, and have downloaded it, but never got round to installing it. Perhaps I will Wink

Yeh, like I posted before this program is excellent and I really do recommend installing it. Razz
what will boost / slow computer down (main items only)
a. cpu + mobo
b. ram
c. harddisk
d. programs loaded

if u can afford to upgrade a+b, then optimize c+d.
everybody above already stated,
- defrag, but do NOT too often.
- remove/un-install/kill unnecessary programs/services
- install one good antivirus + anti spyware
- use best utility softwares

here is list of a good freeware
Hello All

Thanks for all these suggestions. I'll try them out tomorrow and let you know the results (e.g. the HijackThis log).

I've used HijackThis before, but not on these PC's.

I do use CCleaner on these PC's, thanks to a suggestion on another post on this forum.

Unfortunately, I just upgraded the antivirus from McAfee VirusScan 6 to McAfee VirusScan Plus 2007 - which made the PC's noticeably slower. I know that McAfee hogs computer resources, and am now trying out Kaspersky Internet Security 7.0, as (once again from a Frihost forum) I understand it's much more effective, and hopefully less greedy.

I've not used System Security Suite or System Mechanic Pro before, but I'll give them a try.

And I'll certainly take a look at the freeware website suggested.

Thanks again.
spybot s&d
get avg free if you don't have it yet.

And I get paid for doing that for friends, etc. Razz
You can use HijackThis to clear up some of the unwanted startup programs and BHOs. CCleaner is a good software to clear your computer cache.
Msconfig saves time and does not take much time.But along with disabling startup items try choosing Best performance settings in My computer->properties->advance. As well you can also try to clear cache and temp files and folders to speed your computer up.
Hello All

Thanks for all your suggestions.

However, as the PC in question was really slow and had last been installed in 2002, I decided the most straight forward solution was to reinstall Windows from scratch.

It's now better, but still slow. This time I know the reason - it's a 2002 machine with only 128Mb of RAM. Clearly it would benefit from more RAM - say 512MB.

The worst part of reinstalling Windows was downloading and installing the Windows Updates. Now I've seen that there are ways to speed this up on another Frihost forum: Computers -> Operating Systems, topic "avoiding win updates after reformat".

Thanks again.
You can actually create a slipstreamed Win XP CD that includes the latest updates to avoid the hassle of downloading them all again. Just run a search on that subject and you should be able to find ways of doing that. Yes, the downloading of updates can be really tedious especailly when the updates increase over time.

RegClean only works on Win98/ME, so don't bother with this one.

As far as i know, RegClean still works on WinXP as I still use it.
With only 128MB of RAM and if you are not willing to fork out some cash to upgrade to say 512MB of RAM, you could always use nLite to remove some less important features from your Windows XP installation and thus, making a light version of Windows XP which is suitable to be installed on old PCs. Doing so would at least help to gain some performance on your daily task.
Try disabling some services with services.msc. Or consider if Windows 2000 is a better option. If you have a XP Pro licence, you are entitled to downgrade to 2000 Pro. However XP Home does not have downgrade rights.
Arnie wrote:
Try disabling some services with services.msc. Or consider if Windows 2000 is a better option. If you have a XP Pro licence, you are entitled to downgrade to 2000 Pro. However XP Home does not have downgrade rights.

wow didn't know about that

but I keep WinXP on newer system but clean up the crap out WindowsXP like disabling all the extra junk features that doesn't do anything for me Razz
- 128MB is really small RAM

- when I had performance problem with sisters computer I disable some features in here Antivirus like scanning all files when they are read and leave only scanning files when they are written. I also disable antispyware (some Defender or I don't know how it was named), because it tests all files after Antivirus (so, double speeddown). I don't know if it is safe for common use, but for double firewalled paranoid Windows Vista it is.

- try to disable all unnecessary Services, I have saved about 200MB of RAM while I switch off all unwanted services, and sister didn't noticed it until now. So, they were really unnecessary.

- try to use some old operating system like Windows 98 SE, they are extremely safe, because no hacker want to hack this old system and they are extremely fast. Yesterday I reincarnated some old PC with Pentium 100 MHz and 32MB of RAM, with Windows 95 and it was incredible fast. It boots in 30s. Every program works fast. Hmm, realy nice.

- try to use any other Operatig System, some modest Linux distribution. My desktop consumes about 120MB of RAM and 0MB of swap. I don't have swap partition because with 512MB of RAM is swap really useless. With many running software like Firefox with many opened tabs, some audio player, some instant messanger and some file manager it never exceded 400MB. It is also because I don't have any Antivirus, AntiSpyware, Firewall, because they are also useless for me. So I thing if it put some memory to swap file, it should work with only 128MB RAM.
how about cut number of running computers to half, use half for parts and half for actual function
so move all RAM and HDs from the parts pile to the functioning pile and you'll get at least 50% computers with ok performance
RAM helps and HDs help, you can setup the Windows on one 1 HD and programs on the other one Very Happy
I use Ccleaner,URL:
it is very well to clean up the trash which producted by IE or Firefox.Another,you should forbid some program start as soon as the windows startup.My PC has never become slow from buying.It work all normal.
working with "msconfig" and registry may be dangerous.Task manager also fails to show all processes that are running.To speed up your PC you should first end all unnecessary processes first.There are many softwares which comes with this utility,but they themselves consume large memory so avoid those. "End it All" is nice small software which takes less memory.Also delete your temporary internet files and cookies.
Hi rowebil

Thanks for your suggestion (Aug 16) about using CCleaner’s Registry Cleaner. I use CCleaner regularly, but had never noticed that it had a registry cleaner. I’ve found it very useful.

For others who didn’t know, you access the Registry Cleaner by opening CCleaner and then clicking on the “Issues” button on the left. Then press “Scan for Issues” to find out what needs fixing. I then usually click on the “Problem” column header to order by problem type. You then press “Fix selected issues…” to fix all the problems found.

One of the cool features is that you can backup changes to the registry (recommended!), so if anything were to be “fixed” that shouldn’t have been, you can always undo.
If you've been the same Windows installation for a long time and want to make your start-up time a little quicker try cleaning out the windows\prefetch folder.

Prefetch is basically a record of commonly used programs that windows will load at start-up. This means they are in memory before you need to use them so the individual start-up time of the programs is decreased at the cost of slightly increased overhead for Windows' start-up.

This is all well and good but unfortunately after using Windows for a while this gets filled with all sorts of stuff that isn't used any more.
reformat and re-install windows

- Replace some "heavy" programs like Norton, Windows Media Player, or anything that you thing "Heavy" with the "light" program like AVG, Media Player Classic 6, etc. Oh yeah. firefox is heavy too if you use for a long time.
- Don't install too much hardware if you don't need it.
- Installing higher RAM maybe good, but beware, installing too much ram sometimes gives some "Bottle neck effects" when you didn't upgrade another hardware (processor for example)
- and the best way to speed up is... Upgrade ^^
Ubuntu is pretty fast, you know.
infinisa wrote:
Hello All

I have to administer several PC's (all running MS Windows XP SP2), some of which boot and run very slowly (considering the hardware).

I guess the best way to speed them up is to:

1. Examine the startup entries using MSConfig, and prune any that are unnecessary.
2. Use the task manager to look for any unnecessary processes running once the PC has finished the startup process.

Can anyone confirm, improve or give any hints on doing this in a time efficient way?

My concern is that I may have to spend a lot of time identifying startup entries and processes in order to decide whether they are needed or not.

Thanks for your help.
10+ things you should know about troubleshooting a slow PC =

Registry tweaks to accelerate Windows XP =

23 Ways To Speed WinXP =
Game XP =
Windows Powertools (exe) =
SpeedUpMyPC 3.5
Easily speed up your old PC

TweakVI Basic 1.0.1070

See if any of your drivers need updating. Right click on the "my computer" desktop icon, and then select properties, select the hardware tab/ then click device manager and see if there are any "!" next to anything.
Or start/settings/control panel/system/hardware/device manager = "Find the driver you want in just a few clicks of the mouse."
Try first updating the drivers from the manufacturers' websites.

Adding more ram may help. Go to and put in your system specs at = = "Eliminate the hassle and risk of getting the wrong memory — guaranteed or your money back! In just 3 easy steps our Memory Advisor™ tool will show you exactly the right upgrade for your computer." = " The Crucial System Scanner automatically detects your computer's information and gives you the details you need to purchase a compatible upgrade. To run the Crucial System Scanner, you need Microsoft Windows 95 or higher. " +
For a good price see: = and/or -
Test your ram with these: Memtest86L= +

RAM Reliability Test =

Ram Idle =
Adding more ram may help.
Also Control/reduce what loads at startup with = Codestuff Starter = .
Clear your cache and go to your local settings folder and empty your "temp" folder.
Speed tweaks = tweaks and downloads to optimize PC speed without overclocking =

Windows XP Tweaking – Startup and General Performance Tweaks =
= "A guide for tweaking your system."

For desktop pc better performance, I suggest you set your desktop background/wallpaper and screensaver to "none", then right click on desktop, click properties, click 'appearance', choose ' windows classic style'.
Then Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display/display properties/screensaver/monitor power/power schemes/settings/turn off monitor after 10 minutes, and set the next 2 drop down boxes ( 1. Turn off Hard Disks, and 2. System Standby) to "never"/apply/ok/ok.

Go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/System/Advanced tab /under Performance click on Settings / Visual Effects tab/
Adjust for best performance / Ok / Apply / Ok
Then Start/Control Panel/Display/display properties/screensaver/monitor power/hibernate/take check mark out of "Enable hibernation"/apply/ok/ok. Do not to use hibernate on desktop
If I'm going to be away from the pc for more than an hour, or whenever there is lightning in the area, then after shutting it down properly, I unplug the UPS (which all the computer stuff is plugged into) and disconnect the cable.\

To manage your startup programs, use = CodeStuff Starter


also see = Autoruns = =
This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. These programs include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. You can configure Autoruns to show other locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows Me and XP.
Autoruns' Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting images that have been added to your system and it has support for looking at the auto-starting images configured for other accounts configured on a system. Also included in the download package is a command-line equivalent that can output in CSV format, Autorunsc.
You'll probably be surprised at how many executables are launched automatically!
Autoruns works on all versions of Windows including Windows XP 64-bit Edition (for x64) and Windows Server 2003 64-bit Edition (for x64). = Silent Runners Revision 49.

Paul Collins START-UP =

Process Explorer =

Startup List 2.02 =

What's Running is a product that gives you an inside look into your Windows 2000/XP/2003 system. Explore processes, services, modules, IP-connections, drivers and much more through a simple to use application. Find out important information such as what modules are involved in a specific process. Control your system by starting and stopping services and processes. Configure your startup programs easily. =
Version 2.2 of What's Running =

Clean your cache, = and/or
Disk Cleaner = ,or
Open up IE and go to Tools/Internet Options/General tab and Delete Temp files and History, then Boot into safe mode, = , then enable CHKDSK, = Click your "My Computer" in the start menu, R-Click the C: Drive, go down and click on properties in the drop menu. When the properties folder opens, click on the Tools Tab, The first item in the list is to do CHKDSK. Put a check mark in all the boxes/start/yes/apply/ok . The PC should be rebooted in safe mode to do the scan. To view the results of a CHKDSK go to Administrative Tools > Event Viewer > Application, look for the most recent Winlogon event and double-click on it.

Then reboot into safe mode = , or Start/run/msconfig/Boot.ini tab/check /safeboot - reboot. Afterwards uncheck it and reboot., then go to Start/all programs/accessories/system tools/disk cleanup , and run disk cleanup: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disc Cleanup and put a check in ALL the boxes(Note: Only check the "compress old files" box if you are running very short of disk space, as those files which haven't been accessed recently will be compressed to save disk space, but at the cost of slightly slower access times to those files. Nothing will be deleted or "cleaned up" as a result of checking "Compress Old Files."). Click OK then Yes in the next little window. Let it finish.

Then run Disk Defrag from safe mode. After booting into safe mode go to Start/all programs/accessories/system tools/Disk Defragmenter. When you open "Defrag", click on "analyze", and it will tell you if you need to defrag or not. (or see = ).
I built an application to group services and processes together and start/stop the whole group in one shot instead of individually. You can also see all the service dependencies in an expandable tree format.

It's free so give it a try and let me know if it helps.
I think the best solution is to format your drives and install a lightweight operating system, like a Linux one.
1. Get new RAM.
2. Reconfigure your msconfig to lessen programs in the background and startup.
3. Right click on your hard drive and check the properties then...
4. Analyze for errors and fix automatically.
5. Disk Cleanup.
6. Check if files are fragmented. Then if they are, use defragment tool.
7. Scan your computer for malware and virus.
Best ways i find to speed up my pc are as follows:

    - Check registry and get rid of unnecessary things.
    - check start up in start menu.
    - check task manager for strange processes.

    After that you should only have what you need running and so all should be good.
buy a new pic
greatfire wrote:
reformat and re-install windows

format your hard disk and install other operation system (DOS, Linux, or erlier windows,etc)
More ram will be great. And clean the start up and programs that are so intensive in resources.
For defragmenting I have used the free MyDefrag.

It's wise to disable all windows defragmenting and disk cleaning etc. tasks before taking this tool into use!
Best way to speed up a slow PC is:

1. Backup everything.
2. Make sure you have the install files for any programs you want to continue using.
3. Make sure you have drivers for the hardware
4. Wipe it the machine and re-install the OS. If on Windows and you own a copy, stick Windows 7 on it. Runs like a dream. Other options include trying out Linux.
I use Eset nod32 to keep my system clean.
I use Auslogics Disk Defrag to defrag my hard drive (Windows, Free)
I always check MS_CONFIG for unwanted programs that may slow down windows start-up and work.

A lot of things I am installing to my pc will offer me toolbars and such stuff I don't need and I don't want. I am being aware of them, probably this helps my computer to run smoothly. Smile
    - Install alternative software for the same purpose
    - Disable services ad hoc
    - Use eye candy
    - Install browser add-ons
    - Follow random registry change 'tweaks'
Use a program called nLite to make slimmed down versions of Windows XP and reinstall it on your machines.
I use:
1. CCleaner to delete any unused files, followed by Windows Disk Cleanup.
2. Defraggler, set it to run at some hour when the user isn't on the PC.
3. Ensure you have a good anti-malware piece of software like MS Security Essentials, and run a full scan.
4. Check amount of memory vs. peak amount used. If the peak amount is more than the available amount, buy more memory. Use the scanner at to see the type and quantity of sticks you need, and buy them there or the exact type elsewhere.
You should clean your desktop and scan your computer with malware removal for better virus detection. Your computer CPU parts should be clean so use vacuum cleaner and finally update your OS.
Ah another spam. Anyway, I'm currently writing my simple tips on hm to somehow speed up low PC's as what I've encountered before. I'll try to share my solutions in order to help other people with the same computer problems..
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