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Windows XP extremely slow on Dell laptop


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I use the above laptop for home use only. It has plenty of space, doesn't need to be defragged and a virus scan came up clean. But its very slow to start up and to do anything really. I havent any unusual apps loaded on it. I have the usual Lime wire etc for music and some pictures. Ive deleted all the profiles except one to see if this would help speed it up. I've also installed recent updates from HP. Is there anything I can run on it or try to help improve it's efficiency. It's not a very old laptop and it's only used a couple of hours every week so i'm a bit disappointed with it.

Any help greatly appreciated. :)


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The problem with performance issues is, slow compared to what? Was it always slow, or did the laptop work previously and now it doesn't? Can you describe the slowness with some specifics, and then what you're comparing them to? Also, what are the specs of the laptop - perhaps XP is too "heavy" for it? Again, I don't really know how else to answer, because the original post is devoid of anything we can use to actually help you troubleshoot it.

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Extremely slow is a relative perception... :rolleyes:

The things I can come up with (from highest to lowest impact):

  • Install the chipset-drivers (North- & South-bridge, harddisk, etc.) for your motherboard
    and videocard; try not to use the generic XP drivers; these are not optimised.
  • Make sure there are no virusses and/or spyware installed (but you'd already checked that).
    Do a HijackThis scan and see what's running on your system.
  • Get rid of all (unnecessairy) "Start-up agents", like those for Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple
    QuickTime, WinZip, etc.; these can make a (small) difference in speed.

I'm sure others will come up with more (and possibly better) ideas ;)



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  • 2 weeks later...
Get rid of all (unnecessairy) "Start-up agents", like those for Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple

QuickTime, WinZip, etc.; these can make a (small) difference in speed.

normally on home machines doing this can be a very good fast option to determine what is slowing it down, just in general.

1. Click start > run > type msconfig

2. Click Services tab > check Hide All Microsoft > and using general common sense uncheck what you would not use ex. adobe everytime you boot

3. Click Startup tab > and basically uncheck everything that you do not use when you startup with the exception of anything related to hardware such as nVidia drivers or a printer software / driver as this may cause them to completely not work.

Also this may be a useful tool as well, and can be solved by the listed method above but..

Go to task manager and view the performance tab as followed


You can see it is using more ram than it has, using 1.5gb of the 1gb of ram listed (Commit Charge / Total : Ram being used , Physical Memory / Total : Ram the machine has). If you use more ram than your computer has then you are going to drag it to a grinding halt. Try doing the method listed above, and possibly upgrading to more ram.

Hope this is a quickie to help determine what is going on!

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The problem with doing it that way, is that the page file will report usage of not just committed bytes, but anything reserved as well - even though there's no data in the page, the way the Windows memory manager works is that ALL pages that are committed OR reserved have to have a backing page somewhere (either in RAM or in the paging file, or in some cases, both!), just in case all apps on the system "cash in their chips" and want those reservations allocated. The task manager in Windows 7 is a little better about showing this, but not much. If you really want to see what your system is actually using and has committed (versus reporting committed + reserved + standby) you really need to use perfmon and look at the memory object's counters like available bytes, cache bytes, committed bytes, and page reads/sec (to determine how many memory faults are "hard" faults that require "faulting" from disk, aka reading into pages in RAM from the paging file). If you want to know what is being used by each process, you can look at each counter under the process object for memory (private bytes, virtual bytes, and the working set counters).

In looking at your screenshot, it actually isn't clear if there is actual usage of 1.5GB of paging file, because we don't know if it's counting pages that have already been consumed, or are just reserved for future consumption. Also, your commit charge shows that 1.5GB of VA has been charged for use, but again that is because all memory allocations must have a physical page in memory backing either in RAM or in the paging file (if there's a paging file to back them, of course) and this is because the memory manager is designed such that all memory allocations, including simple reservations, MUST have somewhere to go at all times "just in case". If you were to actually break this out, it may actually be an overcommitted box, but again, it might not newwink.gif.

At this point, using the task manager to determine an accurate memory count of a system is fairly useless - it is never granular enough to show you what you want to know (unless all you want to know is how many committed pages you have, and you don't care if they're actually allocated and thus used or not).

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