My computer appears to be downloading info almost continuall

February 22, 2012 at 23:37:53
Specs: Windows XP, 3.192 GHz / 511 MB
only have 12 percent available free space in memory and cannot defrag

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February 22, 2012 at 23:54:40
What you are measuring is STORAGE space, not memory.

Your title indicates data is being written to your hard drive and you now have only 12% remaining free space.

You need to explain why you think your computer is downloading by itself. Do you shutdown and restart daily?

Are you connected to the internet using a broad band connection like cable or DSL?

Post the brand a full model number of your computer.

I notice you have only 511MB of RAM (memory). That is minimal for WinXP. Your hard drive can be active when you have used all your available RAM because you have something called a Windows Swap file (virtual memory). This is space reserved by Windows to temporarily store items that can't be stored in RAM because there is not more RAM. If this is the case then you will see the hard drive indicator light going on a lot.

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February 23, 2012 at 12:55:44
verb (used with object) Computers .
to transfer (software, data, character sets, etc.) from a distant to a nearby computer, from a larger to a smaller computer, or from a computer to a peripheral device."

The hard drive activity led being on continuously or blinking a lot does not necessarily indicate you or some program on the computer are/is downloading anything !

When you first start up Windows on a particular day, there are some programs that run in the background when Windows is first loaded....
- at the very least...
- one or more anti-malware program(s) that check for updates by accessing the internet - if updates are available, they are downloaded from the internet, and installed. All three of those activities may light up the hard drive's led, but the first and third ones are not downloading anything.
- Windows's Automatic Update may check for updates - if updates are available, if Automatic Update is set to default settings, or if it is set to custom settings that allow it, the updates will be downloaded from the internet. They're not installed until you select Turn Off when you Shut Down Windows, and there's no downloading involved in that installation of software.

- sometimes -
- some anti-malware programs may be set to run a full scan of your computer at a certain time on a certain day, or every day. If the computer was not running at the time scheduled, then the full scan may run in the background starting soon after the next time Windows is first loaded. There is no downloading involved for that.
- you may have other programs that check for updates by accessing the internet - if updates are available, it varies whether they are downloaded from the internet, and if they are whether they are installed, automatically - you may be prompted for permission to do either or both.

All that results in more hard drive activity, indicated by it's led being on all the time or blinking more, when Windows first starts up for the day, and for a while after that. After, say, 5 to 10 minutes, the hard drive activity should slow down, unless a full anti-malware scan is being done, which can take a half hour or more to finish, during which time everything in Windows will run slower.

All that is NORMAL.

It isn't all that important whether there is more hard drive activity during that time - it's a matter of how much your cpu is being loaded while that is going on - if there is a lot of load on your cpu, other things you try to do in Windows will not work as well as they would otherwise, when the load on the cpu is less.

To see how much the cpu is being loaded, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys then press Del , let go of all 3 keys, to pop up Task Manager
- or - RIGHT click on a blank part of your bottom taskbar on your main desktop screen, select Task Manager.

The total % the cpu is being loaded is at the bottom of that window.
If there is excessive cpu activity, usually it subsides within, say, 5 to 10 minutes after Windows was first loaded.

To see which programs are using the most cpu %, click on the Processes tab in Task Manager, then click on the CPU label on the column for that, twice, to dynamically list them in descending order.
Ignore System Idle Process (the higher that is, the better).

If you hold your mouse cursor over a blank part of the bottom blue taskbar on your main desktop screen after Windows first loads, when the hourglass cursor turns into a normal cursor, usually you can then use things you want to use in Windows reasonably.

"I notice you have only 511MB of RAM (memory). That is minimal for WinXP."

You have 512 mb of ram. Some bioses subtract 1 mb from the total amount of ram for the amount conventional memory uses because it can not be made available for data by the operating system - Windows reports whatever total ram amount the bios reports as the Total Physical Memory.

XP just barely runs as it should when you have 256 mb of ram - you should have 512 mb or more installed.
The slower your computer's overall speed is, the more you'll benefit from more than 512 mb of ram. Most people don't need more than 2 gb (2,048 mb) of ram for XP.

If you still have excessive cpu loading after the first while after Windows is first loaded, you DO have some other problem.


What total size is your C partition, and how much free space is left on it ?
(RIGHT click on C, select Properties)
If it has less than about 10% free space, everything in Windows will run slower, all the time, and your hard drive will be accessed a lot more, causing it's led to come on more.

Side notes....

"cannot defrag"

You wil get an error message when you try to run Defrag that it can't run, if you don't have more than a certain tiny amount of free space left on the C partition. In that case you need to provide more free space on the C partition, one way or anoher.
- RIGHT click on C, choose the Disk Cleanup button.
- un-install programs in Add or Remove Programs that you're SURE you never use.

If you're not getiing that Defrag cannot run message, your problem is Defrag never seems to finish running, some programs cause Defrag to re-start many times when you have loaded Windows normally. If you load Windows Safe mode, Defrag will probably take a lot less time to finish running, because all of or most of those programs that cause it to re-start are not running in Safe mode.

NOTE that Defrag was an effective program when computers were MUCH slower than they arer now, but running Defrag on modern computers cannot improve the performance of Windows more than, say, 5 %. If Windows is running a lot slower than it once was with the same hardware, and a lot slower than 5% slower, then the possible causes of the slowness are many, and running Defrag won't help much.

Go to Control Panel - Classic view - Add or Remove Programs.
If Windows Desktop Search, or Windows Search, is listed, I recommend you un-install it ! Both versions are Microsoft supplied add-ons for XP that you can choose to install yourself that have bugs that cause it to slow down everything in Windows, all the time, despite the fact it's searchindexer.exe program shown in Task Manager doesn't seem to be using much cpu %.

DO NOT install more than one anti-malware program that has one or more resident module(s), or if you DO, disable all resident modules in anti-malware software except for that or those for ONE of the anti-malware programs.

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