Help! My Dell is extremely slow now!

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Terry Summers, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. My system is a Dell 4550 2.66 Pentium IV with a 1 GB RAM and a 120 GB hard
    drive, running XP Home. It's a little over 2 years old, and it's always been
    a very speedy machine for me, but lately I've encountered a noticable
    slowdown when using it.

    Even after running AdAware, Spyboy S&D, and McAfee VirusScan (which found no
    viruses), all with the latest updates, the machine is still slow. I've also
    downloaded the latest Windows critical updates. But I did not install
    Windows Service Pack 2 yet.

    I mainly notice the slowdown when trying to open new programs, or when
    switching between multiple programs.

    Booting up the machine also now takes longer than normal. And the Windows
    boot up theme music now skips, and sounds garbled at boot up. Songs in
    WinAmp and movies in Windows Media Player now skip as well.

    The only thing that I can think of that may be causing this problem would be
    less free hard drive space. My 120 GB HD seems to have a 111 GB capacity.
    Right now, 56.2 GB is used, and 55.4 GB is free. I've never filled up half
    of this drive before, and the problems seemed to start around the time the
    drive got half full.

    My hard drive has only gotten past the 50% full mark fairly recently, so
    could this be the problem? I've noticed on other machines that as a hard
    drive gets more and more full, slowdowns occur. Yet I still have nearly half
    of it free, so I'm not sure why things are slowing down now.

    I'll delete a bunch of programs if necessary, to free up more space, but I'd
    like to know beforehand if this will solve the problem or not.

    Also, this computer has been used for a little over 2 years now. During that
    time, the hard drive hadn't been defragged regularly - maybe a few times at
    most. But I since defragged it over the weekend, and again last night, but
    the computer is still sluggish.

    Any help would be appreciated as to what's causing these slowdowns.
    Terry Summers, Mar 8, 2005
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  2. Terry Summers

    Tom Scales Guest


    Your hard drive being 1/2 full isn't a problem, although defragging it could

    Honestly, 2 years on a Windows install is pretty good. I wipe mine clean and
    reinstall about every 6-9 months, just to clean things up. I'd suggest
    that, if you are comfortable with it.

    Tom Scales, Mar 8, 2005
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  3. You didn't mention scandisk and defrag being done. I would suggest you run
    Joe Cilinceon, Mar 8, 2005
  4. Terry Summers

    Jerry Park Guest

    Check the transfer mode of the disk. It should be a DMA mode, not PIO.
    Preferrably DMA mode 5.

    In the device manager, open the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers (click the +
    Right click the Primary IDE Channel and choose Properties.
    Under the Advanced Settings tab, see what the transfer mode is for Device 0.
    Jerry Park, Mar 8, 2005
  5. Terry Summers

    Notan Guest

    Just out of curiosity, did the slowdown occur after installing
    a specific program?

    Notan, Mar 8, 2005
  6. Terry Summers

    jaykchan Guest

    I just fixed the slow-down problem in my Dell 4300 PC. The PC has a
    built-in USB-1 and a USB-2 adapter card. They used to be able to
    co-exist with each other. But problem started when I added quite a few
    more USB device into the mix. I got sticky mouse, sticky keyboard,
    everything is slow. I finally get around with this problem by
    disabling the USB-1 and adding a USB-2 hub.

    You may want to see what was the last device or program that you added
    to your PC right before you started having this system slow down
    problem. Or you can try restore the system settings back to the point
    before the system show down occurred.

    Jay Chan
    jaykchan, Mar 8, 2005
  7. I'd also try Microsoft's AntiSpyWare product, though it sounds like
    you've done everything I'd think of to rule out mal-ware. Not all
    mal-ware is captured by one of the above programs, though, so it's
    possible you have something new.
    SP2 will not make your machine faster, though it may make it more
    secure. You want to do this, but not till after you solve your
    problem, and not without a good backup.

    I'd also look at the Task Manager to see what's using CPU time and
    memory (control-alt-delete, Task Manager, Processes, View, Select
    Collumns, check CPU Time, OK).

    A half-full 120G drive isn't the problem, though as Jerry said I'd
    check the transfer mode of the drive. Tom's suggestion to rebuild the
    OS would definitely narrow it down to hardware or software, though you
    might want to run some diags first to rule out hardware.
    William P.N. Smith, Mar 8, 2005
  8. I ran MS's AntiSpyware product for about a week before wiping it, I saw
    no advantages over AdAware & Spy-Bot. The only othwe anitspyware
    program I ever run (and only when I need to) is called HijackThis!, but
    be careful with it because you can mess up your system if you remove the
    wrong things (there's web site's deicated to dissecting the output log
    of it and they'll help you remove the bad items).

    As to McAfee, has been going down hill for years (same with Norton).
    You may want to look into one called AVG; they offer an excellent free
    version for consumers, but it's mainly targeted at busiunesses.
    This is a great suggestion; also pay attention to the CPU Usage column,
    and just google the name of any suspicious process.
    As mentioned, the HDD is likely not the problem (but you ought to defrag
    it anyway). A good hardware test would be to download a live Linux cd,
    burn it, and boot into it (it creates a virtual drive from your RAM,
    your HDD will be untouched, next time you boot to Windows it will be
    like nothing ever happened). Almost every distro comes with Mozilla (or
    at least Firefox), and I find their performance is nearly identical
    between the two OS's. So I suggest loading the programs that have
    Windows eqivalents, and see if there's a performance difference. In
    fact Linux should be at a disadvantage because it's losing memory to the
    RAMdisc, so if Linux seems much faster, due some more hardware tests
    (like Memtest86). Just google up Knoppix for the live Linux distro.
    Nicholas Andrade, Mar 8, 2005
  9. Terry Summers

    Colin Wilson Guest

    Even after running AdAware, Spyboy S&D, and McAfee VirusScan
    I'll add to that - I spent 6 hours trying to lock down someones' machine
    at the weekend.

    They had a fully up to date Nortons Internet Security and had tried
    Adaware / Spybot S&D etc. following initial advice from me.

    I spent 3 hours trying to figure out what was going on - reboot after
    reboot and entries would be reinstated in the startup after being deleted
    in HijackThis! and a reboot.

    In desperation I ran Sysclean from Trend (a free one-off "get me out of
    trouble" program) - it found TWO - one worm live and active in memory
    (which must have been the culprit) and an inactive one on a program on
    the HD. Both cleaned up without a hitch.

    I also got to see Pest Patrol in action, and its the only commercial app
    among the list of apps I recommend for spyware control - it found around
    50 entries associated with iMesh which had previously been eradicated.

    I`ve got some info on spyware control online here (all except Pest Patrol
    are free)

    Direct links to Sysclean are at the bottom of the page of the 2nd link.
    Colin Wilson, Mar 8, 2005
  10. Terry Summers

    Dogface Guest

    Backout all the latest MS updates you loaded! I downloaded a batch and one
    of them caused major problems like you're seeing. When I did a system
    restore to before the MS updates, the system was back to normal.

    Out of curiousity are you doing anything with network or shared drives?
    Dogface, Mar 9, 2005
  11. 0.

    I checked this, and my transfer mode is PIO. Should I really change this?
    Terry Summers, Mar 9, 2005
  12. No, I don't think I've installed any programs lately.
    Terry Summers, Mar 9, 2005
  13. I may have to do a system restore.

    But nope, I'm not doing anything with networks or shared drives.
    Terry Summers, Mar 9, 2005
  14. Terry Summers

    Brian K Guest

    Changing to DMA will probably fix your problem.

    Brian K, Mar 9, 2005
  15. Terry Summers

    S.Lewis Guest

    Absolutely. Once you enable DMA, you'll be prompted to reboot to activate
    the change..

    S.Lewis, Mar 9, 2005
  16. Ok, I'm a bit confused. Under Device 0, I have the following:

    Transfer Mode: DMA if available

    Current Transfer Mode: PIO Mode

    Do I need to change the Current Transfer Mode to PIO? If so, how do I
    change this? It's not letting me edit the Current Transfer Mode field.
    Terry Summers, Mar 9, 2005
  17. Terry Summers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Yes, change it. The 120GB drive is capable of doing faster DMA transfers. PIO
    is slow as a slug. Well, maybe only slow as a turtle... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Mar 9, 2005
  18. Terry Summers

    Tom Scales Guest

    Go into the BIOS. I would bet that the drive is listed as OFF rather than
    AUTO. Press the spacebar until it doesn't say OFF, save and reboot and you
    should be in DMA mode.

    Tom Scales, Mar 9, 2005
  19. Terry Summers

    Jeff B Guest

    I also have a 4550. I have tried the device manager and IDE board and no
    advanced tab shows also I can not find anywhere that it says DMA or PIO
    mode. There is only one user so I am the administrator. Any suggestions? I
    looked at all drives ad Primary and secondary controller properties. I am
    running WindowsXP SP2 with all of the latest updates.
    Jeff B, Mar 9, 2005
  20. Terry Summers

    Tom Scales Guest

    Did you try my suggestion of ensuring the drives are not OFF in the BIOS?
    They'll work, but in PIO mode, if they are.

    Tom Scales, Mar 9, 2005
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