XP slow? Another list of things to try

16 03 2010

When your XP or 2000 computer gets slow a rebuild may not be needed.

First as I have mentioned before it is a good idea to eliminate hardware as the reason for the computer slowness.

Is the hard drive full? A full or nearly full drive will affect performance. If you have less than about 20% free space on the hard drive you may need a new drive or to delete files to free up space.

Does the machine feel hot to the touch? Is it faster for a short period of time after it has been shut down for a time? Can you hear or feel the fans putting out air? If you open task manager and the CPU usage is low, but the machine is hot and running slowly, either the fan is not working or perhaps there is something clogging the vent. If this is the case, unless the machine is taken apart and cleaned you won’t be able to fix the problem.

Running the quick diagnostics and looking for errors is a good idea. On newer Dell systems, with the computer powered off hold the key while pressing the power button, let go of both buttons when the computer powers up. On older Dell systems, when you see that Dell BIOS splash screen hit Ctrl-Alt-D. Let it run the diagnostics, all we are looking for errors to see if any of them are related to the performance issue.

If none of the above applies, start looking at software problems.

Uninstall any unused programs, the less you have, the less problems you will have. Make sure you are only running one anti-virus/anti-spyware program, while you are at it switch to Microsoft Security Essentials.

Make sure all of your Microsoft Updates are applied, just in case there is an unresolved bug causing the problem. You could also look for driver updates for the hardware when you are running the Microsoft Updates.

Clean up the ‘crud’ that accumulates in your system. Use CCleaner to to clean out temporary internet files, disable startup items, and to clean up the registry. When you install it, make sure to pay attention and don’t install the tool bar.

Defragment the hard drive. You can start with the built-in defragmenter, and if that doesn’t help you can try Defraggler.

This should give you enough to try for now, of course you could buy a SSD drive…

Can ping but can’t browse – a reminder to think the problem through before acting

16 03 2010

The computer in question was Windows XP SP3 with IE8 and McAfee. Since the user in question (like most people) hasn’t used a wired connection for so long the problem initially presented itself as a wireless issue. This remote user described the problem to me as he could not connect to wireless – 1st error – unless you can see they are describing the problem correctly never assume the user knows what they are talking about. It ended up being some sort of driver/software conflict

There are so many different variables that I can’t assume (and neither should you) that blindly following a list will get you a result. You need to understand what it usually means if you cannot ping by name but you can ping by IP. With that caveat here are some suggestions to try, let me know if I left something out or if I should order them differently.

  • Verify they are connected to the correct wireless network – if this fails…
    • verify type of network, SSID, encryption and key, etc
      • You can often connect to a network but get nowhere if you have the right key but the wrong type of encryption
  • Verify the device is enabled and has no errors in the device manager
  • Verify (if possible) that others can connect to wireless and the internet
    • if this fails… you need to deal with the router
    • if this succeeds try a wired connection to the router
  • Verify IP address, DNS, default gateway (cmd – then ipconfig/all) – if this fails…
    • ipconfig /release and then ipconfig / renew
    • verify properties of the connection
      • Is it set to use DHCP or manual – whichever is correct in your situation
        • usually the former
      • correct driver?
      • Power settings on adapter?
        • Scroll down to Brian’s answer on this website
      • TCP/IP installed and checked?
  • Verify they can pingĀ  – systematically (either outside in or inside out)
    • Outside in would be something like
      • ping remote address by name – if this fails…
      • ping remote address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping default gateway by IP – if this fails…
      • ping local address by IP – if this fails…
      • ping localhost by IP ( if this fails..
  • Verify that you can connect wired or wireless by booting into safe mode with networking
    • If so, you probably have a conflict with hardware or software
      • Can you scan for spyware?
      • Check your list of software for security and or antivirus programs that may be causing conflicts
      • Try a system restore (if enabled)
        • if this fails you may have to rebuild the system
    • If not, and with the assumption that you double check all of the above, the system is probably beyond repair

Let me know what you think, and if you have anything to add…