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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    XP SP3 suddenly beyond glacial - except the task manager

    My trusty Dell e1705 (3GB Ram, 500GB HD, 20GB free) has decided to move slower than continental drift! Takes several hours to completely boot, several minutes for an icon on the desktop to even highlight after clicking on it. Programs have no hope to even launch. The only thing that seems moderately unaffected by this is the Windows task manager. It is working as expected; it shows 2-3% CPU time being used - normal.

    I have pulled the HD and put it in a USB case so I can access my files. The HD works fine when in the case and connected as an external drive on another PC.

    Though I can rescue my files, I would very much like to revive the OS so that I can wrap up things on a variety of applications. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can try to get windows moving again?

    And NO I DO NOT HAVE A CURRENT DISK IMAGE BACKUP. Shame on me.

    HEY - Could it be a hardware problem? I have more of these machines, pretty much identically configured. Maybe I could slip the HD into another machine and see if it boots more normally? I will await your thoughts before I try that.

    Steve

  2. #2
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    The first thing I'd check for an overall slowdown like this is the Transfer speed set in device manager for the hard drive channels: http://www.winhlp.com/node/10

    EDIT: 20GB free? You really have to find a lot more free space than that, it's choking up! Once you've created around 25% free space, defrag it thoroughly, replace it in the Dell, boot it up and run defrag c /b to help speed boot times too.
    Last edited by satrow; 2012-06-21 at 12:20.

  3. #3
    New Lounger
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    satrow is right about running a defrag. 20GB free space should be enough for XP, though unless your swap file size is set too low or too high.

    Do not insert the drive into another machine until you have made a full backup. If Windows wakes up in a new box, even though very similar, it can really mess up your license and give you grief. Being Dell hardware, and assuming you also have a Dell-specific version of XP, you might get away with it. You never regret making a backup, though, so do it now!!!

    Some disk imaging software defrags in the process of copying the image (the free tool DriveImageXML [aka dixml] and others do this)

    [EDIT: I meant to say "After a backup and the cleanup and defrag suggested by satrow, check swap file settings, then suspect hardware"]
    Check swap file settings first, then suspect hardware. Your RAM could be going bad, but you usually get blue screens or crash/reboots. It never hurts to run a memory test, or pull one stick at a time, if you have more than one. Other peripheral cards like video, modem, etc can slow down the system if they go bad in weird ways.

    I have seen motherboards with degraded speeds on hard drive access due to 'popped' capacitors. This can happen with power surges, and you can often spot a popped capacitor by looking at your motherboard carefully. Look at the little 'barrels' that stand up on the motherboard -- they should have smooth, flat tops (maybe with little notches across them). If you see any with rounded tops, especially with goo oozing out, you have a bad capacitor. If they bulge like those old Jiffy-Pop popcorn things, the capacitor is a goner. Sometimes they fry but don't show it. The visual cue just lets you throw away the motherboard without that guilty feeling that you should 'try one more thing...'

    Good luck.
    Last edited by ScottDD; 2012-06-21 at 13:07. Reason: I said 'first' when 'next' was the better choice

  4. #4
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    20GB might be enough for XP if the 20GB was in one block - it must be split over 100's if not 1000's of spaces on this drive.

    Defrag needs 12% to work reasonably well, for decent data transfer speed, 25% + is needed. There's a drastic reduction in performance on the last quarter of any spinning drive.

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