Sluggish XP Performance

June 19, 2010 at 23:11:04
Specs: Windows XP, 640 Megs
Not a really bad problem, just an aggravation. FYI, I regularly scan for both a virus and a trojan, clean out my 'temp files', 'index.dat', 'history', picture log file.
My machine seems to be sluggish. Used to be that a simple double-click would 'open' a file. Now it will only rarely. Most of the time. I must click on a file to select and then RIGHTCLICK and select 'open' to access it. It's almost like the machine is busy updating some sort of log file. If I wait long enough (sometimes just seconds, sometimes more) it'll open, but it'll always promptly open from the rightclick menu.Thought it might be my dial up connection, but it does the same offline. So it's gotta be me.
I've searched for '.log' files and looked at file size. The only ones that seem too large to me are a bunch of 'TV de bug' files showing different dates. They seem to be 'protected' files as I can't move, delete, alter or otherwise manipulate them. Ideas?
Ed in Texas.

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June 20, 2010 at 05:39:07
That the computer is spending excessibe time updating log files is possible but too remote to be seriously considered. The problem is more likely malware or bad explorer extensions. Running too many background applications and some antivirus products can also do this.

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June 20, 2010 at 20:27:49
Try running Malwarebytes. Try running Process Explorer (MS) since it will show you exactly what processes are running to give you a better picture of what is going on.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.
If all else fails, read instructions.

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June 20, 2010 at 22:14:20
"clean out my 'temp files', 'index.dat', 'history', picture log file"

Data that is taking up drive space but is not running or in the registry does not slow down Windows performance , unless you don't have more than a reasonable minimum amount of free space left on the C partition. The only thing more data than less affects is how long it takes for programs that scan more data to complete, e.g. Defrag, full virus scans, searches.

Look at your hard drive activity led. You should not get a delay opening a file when that's not on.

If the hard drive activity led is on a lot after Windows has fully loaded, you probably have things that are running that are using too much cpu time. You don't necessarily have malware, and it usually isn't malware that is using the cpu time.

Some things tend to run after the first time you have started up Windows on a particular day, but not after that on the same day.

When your hard drive activity led is on a lot, press Alt-Ctrl-Del to pop up Task Manager and look at the Processes list to see what is using the cpu time. Expand the Task Manager window.

If you don't know what something is that is using a lot of cpu time, copy down the name of it and look it up on the web.

There is usually more than one instance of SVCHOST.EXE - if one of those is using a lot of cpu time, SVCHOST.EXE is a "slave" program that is used by other programs that are usually not in the Task Manager list. To find out which programs are using SVCHOST.EXE, you need to use a program such as Process Explorer, available on the Microsoft web site.


- Automatic Update (wu.....) set to default settings is sometimes downloading updates in the background. You can change the settings so it merely notifies you updates are available, and then you choose when to download them, when to load your computer by doing that.

- anti-malware software is often loading anti-malware info updates or program updates in the background, by default. Usually it does that just after the first time you boot the computer on a particular day, or after a specific time that's in the settings for the program. You could wait for that to complete, or change the settings in the program and have it check for updates when you want it to.

- anti-malware software is often set to run a FULL scan of your computer in the background by default once a day when you install it - it runs just after the first time you boot the computer on a particular day, or after a specific time that's in the settings for the program.
If you don't want to run a full scan every day, disable that scheduled scan.
I only run one when I notice something suspicious.

- some anti-malware software slows down Windows more than other anti-malware software. E.g. Norton products have a reputation of slowing your system more than others, e.g. AVG, Avast!.

- don't use the Windows Search (Windows Desktop Search) add-on for XP on a slower computer (less than 3ghz) . It uses an excessive amount of cpu time. It's supposed to build search indexes in the background when you're not actively doing something, but once it starts doing that it does not stop running when you resume actively using the computer. If you have installed it, you can uninstall it in Add Remove Programs.

- WMP 10 and 11 have a Media share feature. If that is enabled (it may be enabled by default ?) a process wmpnetwk.exe is using a lot of computer time. If you stop it from running in Task Manager, it restarts again in a short time.

"WMP FAQ (WMP 10 and 11)

How do I turn on Media sharing ?

1. Click the arrow below the Library tab, and then click Media Sharing.

2. In the Media Sharing dialog box, select the Share my media to check box."

I clicked on the box beside Share my Media to REMOVE the checkmark.

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Related Solutions

June 21, 2010 at 00:59:09
You should definitely see what's running in the background by accessing your TASK MANAGER. However, streamline your startup to make sure only the necessary programs are running in the background. Here is how:

1. Open your Start menu.
2. Click Run
3. In the command screen type "msconfig.exe"
4. In the "system configuration utility",
click either "service" or "startup" tab
5. Uncheck all programs that your are no longer using.
6. Click "OK"

Hope this helps!


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June 21, 2010 at 07:20:46
See Response 4 in this for more about how to use msconfig to disable Startup programs that don't need to run :

Using Defrag or Registry cleaner programs generally makes no difference or very little difference regarding speeding up Windows.
You don't need to be deleting things such as your browser history or cookies unless you're paranoid about the security of your computer, and someone else has access to it that might use that info maliciously.
I've never encountered a problem caused by leaving the cookies intact. Some anti-malware programs these days do not search for cookies (e.g. Malwarebytes), or searching for cookies is not selected by default (e.g. AVG 8.x), probably because they have found they are not something to be concerned about regarding malware or security.
One exception is sometimes deleting temporary internet files will clear up problems. You can do that in Control Panel - Internet Options, or in Microsoft Internet Explorer - Tools - Internet Options.

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June 22, 2010 at 22:22:30
SOLVED (so far)
Thanks to all for letting me pick your brains. Seems my problem stemmed from Avast!. I initially installed it in 2006 and it had apparently gotten bloated over the years.
There's probably a way to clean it up within the proggie, but I don't know it (anybody know? I like Avast!) so I just uninstalled/replaced with a different AV.
Ed in Texas.

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June 23, 2010 at 19:54:30
Okay , sounds good.

It could be that Avast acquired bugs in it after all that time, if you've never un-installed it. You could have tried just un-installing it, re-installing it.

I had noticed Avast! used more resources in 98SE than AVG 7.x did, but I wasn't aware of that having gotten worse over time.
AVG 8.x is not too bad in 2000 and up.

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