advice for speeding up a very slow PC

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jeeswg
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advice for speeding up a very slow PC

20 May 2017, 14:50

In one office there is a Windows XP laptop that is very very slow, even when it isn't running anything, it's almost unusable. Sometimes you can run things more or less OK.

I wondered if anyone had any advice for speeding up a slow PC. Cheers.

Some ideas:
- clear some disk space
- defrag
- check Task Manager (nothing appeared to be taking up CPU)
- change settings to be optimised for performance rather than appearance
- add an extra memory card (add more RAM)
- run tools to check for malware
- turn off the virus checker temporarily
- clear certain registry entries / folders
- remove broken lnk files (or rename them to lnkx files) (my custom extension)
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xZomBie
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

21 May 2017, 00:55

- Disable some start up programs
- Reinstall windows(seems too extreme but sometimes help)
- Check hard disk health(few of my PCs was super slow. Replacing them with new ones helped)
- Good cooling system/airflow for cooling the system
- Update drivers
guest3456
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

23 May 2017, 23:30

-run a RAMdisk
-buy an SSD
-buy a new computer.

Guest

Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

24 May 2017, 03:02

What do you use it for? If it isn't something Windows specific there are lightweight linux distros that will help speed it up. Or replace it with a single board computer like Raspberry Pi, you can run Windows 10 IOT on it (free) https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/w ... /downloads

Chances are you can buy a second hand more powerful computer at the local charity/second hand shop for very little, time spent on reviving an old machine is also costly and can be better spent on something more productive.
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Drugwash
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 May 2017, 11:25

1. Mechanical issues
- open up the laptop's back cover (or whatever) to get to the cooling system; clean any clogged dust off the evacuation grill and/or fan; check if the grill gets reasonably cooler than the CPU side of the cooling duct (if not then it's possible the cooling agent leaked so the cooler ensemble needs replaced or refilled); in extreme situations - possibly when someone already tampered with the hardware at some point - you might have to dismount the cooling system, clean up thoroughly the surfaces that connect directly with the CPU (and GPU, sometimes) with a piece of cloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol and apply a thin layer of thermal grease on those surfaces then carefully remount the cooling system.

2. Hardware check
- boot up a live CD/USB that contains testing tools and perform thorough tests of both RAM and HDD; I'd recommend Hiren's Boot CD (some consider it warez so do apply personal judgement here) for its MemTest86+ and HDAT2 tools. Either way make sure both RAM and HDD are in perfect shape with no errors/bad sectors.
- Install an application that can reliably read and display voltages (such as Everest/Aida32/Aida64), make sure they all fit within the corresponding limits, otherwise the voltage regulator(s) may be damaged and/or the power source (charger) and/or battery may be way out of parameters

3. Software check
- check Task Scheduler for any unwanted tasks and disable if any (better yet disable Task Scheduler completely in main menu > Advanced)
- Install CodeStuff Starter 5.6.2.9 (last version I know of, if you can find it) and check/disable any unwanted startup applications and/or services (careful!!!)
- run reliable tools that check for rootkits and any other kind of malware
- run registry check/fix tools from the XP era
- make sure there are no two or more concurrent resident antivirus packages running on the system - that would bring it to its knees
- if Unofficial SP4 is installed (from RyanVM forum boards) it's possible that thing is slowing down the machine; go to My Computer > Properties - if it says Version 2014 up under System then USP4 is installed and you may have to wipe out the system and reinstall (that SP contains XP-POS updates that may not suit a regular XP system)

All other possible checks/fixes have already been mentioned so I won't repeat them here.
Don't throw away old hardware, it'll last much longer than newer hardware anyway if you provide it with a little TLC. ;)
Good luck! :)
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jeeswg
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 May 2017, 12:02

Many thanks for all the responses so far.

Btw that reminds me Drugwash, I have another old Windows XP PC that loads fine, works for a while, maybe a few minutes, then suddenly switches off. So my suspicion was maybe it was overheating, and switching off for safety.

Btw what versions of Windows do you still regularly use, and what versions of AHK do you use on those machines. What AHK commands/functions have to be rewritten/worked around? Also, does ctrl+i work to invert selection on Windows 95/98/2000? Cheers.

Btw your help with old versions of AHK, the anigif images, and this have been invaluable, thanks so much.
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Drugwash
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 May 2017, 13:06

You're welcome, I do what I can to help. :)

That other PC is probably overheating as you suspected. Certain BIOS versions (in desktops) allow the user to specify the maximum CPU temperature allowed, beyond which it'll shutdown automatically; possibly laptops have such mechanism too, opaque to the user (fixed temp. value). If it's a desktop you may get into BIOS right after start and try to find the hardware info tab where the voltage and temperature is shown; check if the CPU temperature rises very quickly and also check the max value for automatic shutdown (if present) - if the CPU is running hot by design the value might have to be raised according to official specifications. Also try the mechanical cleanup as per #1 above and check the cooling system too. Make sure the cooler is placed correctly over the CPU (some old coolers have an indentation that matches the socket and if placed incorrectly it would not have a complete and firm contact with the CPU, possibly leading to its destruction through rapid overheating).

My (upgraded) 98SE still runs 24/7 since 2006, it's where I build my scripts. Obviously it runs AHK Basic, the official 1.0.48.05 version (although some time ago I wanted to update the code and build a new version).
I have another machine running XP-SP4 (hence my knowledge on possible slowdowns due to that service pack) and it has AHK 1.1.24.4 Unicode (just forgot to update it, no particular reason for keeping that version).

In regard to commands/functions, that would be a long discussion. Some commands in AHK 1.1 got extra parameters or accepted values that would raise an error on AHK 1.0 and some syntax accepted in AHK 1.0 might raise an error in AHK 1.1 (for example Gui, Show, +Hide that I recently found in an old script would work in 1.0 and throw an error in 1.1 because of the + in front of Hide). Obviously everything related to arrays, objects, COM and all newly added controls (ActiveX etc) would not work in 1.0. However old 1.0 syntax usually works in 1.1 (with minor issues such as the one mentioned before), that is why I'm writing my scripts in 1.0 on the 98SE machine, test them there, then test on the XP machine and adjust as necessary. A major annoyance is Unicode however and many times I had to use workarounds because the easy and straighforward code that worked in 1.0 would result in gibberish or errors under 1.1. Working with strings, reading files and/or binary buffers etc is a PITA when it comes to 1.1.
I've built a helper script called updates.ahk that is called as a function in the beginning of the scripts and helps leveling some variables and constants between the two AHK versions but that's just a minor improvement.

I'm not sure where exactly the Ctrl+i hotkey should work, I never used it AFAICR. Please be more specific.

Also do note that my 98SE system is heavily upgraded and can do things not usually possible with a vanilla installation. As for 95, ME and 2k it's been a long time since I ran those, currently I don't have any of them, not even in a virtual machine on the Linux system. Anyway, 95 is quite limited in its API, no matter how upgraded it may be so building scripts for 95 would be a time-consuming and frustrating task, while 98SE is quite close to ME and an upgraded one might even surpass it in some regards. Unfortunately my experience with 2k is slim to none, it never appealed to me. All I remember are a few tests with the leaked Neptune, many years ago. :)
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jeeswg
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 May 2017, 13:40

Yes my possibly overheating PC is a desktop, and the slow PC is a laptop.

I meant about ctrl+i (possibly different in other languages) on Desktop and in Explorer folder windows. I believe that in one or some of Windows 95/98/2000 if you press ctrl+i it inverts the file selection, but I haven't been able to confirm this. It does not work in Windows XP or later versions, I tried to find a program that would do this in Windows XP, I think I might have used CFi ShellToys, later on I used AutoHotkey.

I thought that Unicode might actually be a major/the main problem issue in AHK Basic, I might release a script today/tomorrow, re. Unicode in AHK Basic, in case you like it.

[EDIT:] Btw since AHK v2 will probably mainly use functions, one solution might be write everything using functions and create an AHK Basic version of 'AHK v2 functions for AHK v1' (e.g. it could be made to handle '+Hide'):
commands as functions (AHK v2 functions for AHK v1) - AutoHotkey Community
https://autohotkey.com/boards/viewtopic ... 37&t=29689
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Drugwash
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 May 2017, 14:58

I have a desktop too with this issue, it's been on stand-by for about two years and then when I fired it up it would shutdown in a couple minutes. I suspect bad thermal grease at the CPU-cooler junction or bad latches on the cooler that let it slip away. Someday I'll look at it, hopefully.

Ctrl+i doesn't work on the Desktop on the 98SE (English edition). As for Explorer - I never use it. But for you I tried - no dice, it opens Favorites in the left pane on Ctrl+i. There is an item called 'Invert selection' in the Edit menu but has no associated hotkey other than Alt+I (I is underlined in 'Invert').
As a file manager I've used Total Commander (with a handful of useful plugins) since before the year 2000 and never looked back.

Not even XP can handle Unicode fully unless the East Asian and LTR files are installed in Regional and Language settings. This machine doesn't have those files installed. 9x has much more limitations in this regard, not even browsers like Firefox can display the whole range of characters despite many Unicode fonts being installed on the 98SE machine. However a RichEdit control might work, I have an AHK script (myDiary) that uses RichEdit (even v5 if available on a 9x system) and I've been able to type or paste cyrillic and japanese text into it. Actually even JWPce works fine on my system, so Unicode is possible but only in dedicated areas and with certain limitations.

I'm curios about your new script, hopefully I won't forget about it by tomorrow - my memory is getting worse day by day.
I subscribed to the topic you mentioned, will try to analyze it later on.
Still think a better solution would be to update AHK 1.0 to support some new syntax and/or at least ignore "exotic" declarations and unknown parameters/values but my life is a complete chaos at the moment and I'm not sure it'll end soon (if ever). We'll see.
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jeeswg
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

30 May 2017, 16:38

@Drugwash
I use Windows 7, and on Internet Explorer there are still issues with some Unicode characters, and Unicode emojis, there may also be problems with other web browsers. Also I'm not sure what the best solution re. text editors, if there is a text editor that can use multiple fonts, if a font lacks a character, to make sure all characters are displayed.

Btw I've posted this if you have any feedback you would like to give:
Unicode functions for AutoHotkey Basic / AutoHotkey x32 ANSI - AutoHotkey Community
https://autohotkey.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=32487

==================================================

Any further ideas on the original question will always be welcome.
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Drugwash
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

31 May 2017, 01:14

Regarding characters, fonts, editors I'll reply in the new thread as to not mix the topics.
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AkselVerg

Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

21 Jun 2017, 09:58

Do you want to try to accelerate it at the program level, or do you consider the option with speeding up performance by physically upgrading your pc?

If using the software then:
Defragment the disks
Clean unnecessary files, especially large ones
Remove unnecessary apps
Remove unnecessary applications from auto startup
Decline auto-updating of programs
Check your pc with antivirus and all sorts of antispy software and clean all this sh*t up
Set special programs to speed up (although this is undesirable because they can spoil something)

If using Hardware, then:
The easiest way to increase memory, which will help you perform more operations at the same time (it is desirable to set DDR4 at least, RAM is not so expensive, so it's a pretty good way)(more about ram on wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory)

And one more way that will allow you to noticeably accelerate the work of the PC and increase its performance - to replace the HDD with SSD, this will greatly increase the speed of information exchange in your PC. SSDs are different in characteristics and manufacturers (https://www.bestadvisers.co.uk/ssds), I think you would be enough with any SSD for 120Gb, they are quite cheap, and you can use your old HDD as an additional hard disk)
vasili111
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

27 Jun 2017, 13:23

- Disassemble and clean from the dust and change thermal grease. In my experience, it really helps to speed up the old laptop. Be careful, it is not an easy to do!
- Add RAM? Add SSD? But, is it really worth to spend money on an old notebook?
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jeeswg
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

23 Oct 2018, 22:19

- Bump.
- I have a mini laptop, Windows 7, a few years old, and it's slow even when nothing is running (except for a virus checker and AutoHotkey). And assuming I don't upgrade it or reinstall Windows, I'm interested in anything that might make it speed up.
- (I've had quite a few answers above, and will review them.)
- Are there any common things that people find tend to work to speed things up a bit? Thanks.
- (Just now it was slow even dragging a file to desktop, and then suddenly it was quite quick.)
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Drugwash
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

24 Oct 2018, 12:08

- Disable Windows Defender if it's running in the background - it's known to slow the system down.
- Run services.msc and look through those set to Automatic startup. They are quite a lot and some are useless or even unwanted. But don't disable anything unless you're 100% sure.
- Try different (even older) versions of certain drivers (video, LAN etc.), maybe one of the current ones acts up.
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garry
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

24 Oct 2018, 14:30

@jeeswg
- (Just now it was slow even dragging a file to desktop, and then suddenly it was quite quick.)
I had also this problem or als when I wanted to rename a file , then desactivated MsMpEng.exe ... ( see below )

@Drugwash
Disable Windows Defender...
I've done this, not sure if i'ts correct ... my small 4K computer with SSD ( computer BeeLink 130.-- Euro / monitor 4K 27" LG to CHF 200.-- ) is very fast now ...

( first time I tried to use regwrite to switch ON/OFF MsMpEng.exe )

Code: Select all

;- desactivate MsMpEng.exe  
;- win+R,regedit,HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender  > set  DisableAntiSpyWare to 1
;- ( if DisableAntiSpyware not exist : rightclick in empty area in registry-editor and select New > DWORD-value (32-bit)  
;-   Enter "DisableAntiSpyware" as the name for the new value / Doubleclick and set value to 1  ) 

;- this script switch ON/OFF MsMpEng.exe 

adm:=a_isadmin
if (adm=0)
Gosub, RunAsAdmin2

RegRead,value, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender,disableantispyware
msgbox,If 1 then is MsMpEng.exe desactivated NOW =%value%

if (value="1")
  {
  RegWrite, REG_DWORD,HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender,disableantispyware,0x00000000
  msgbox, MsMpEng.exe  is ACTIVATED ( set to 0 )
  }
 
if (value="0")
  {
  RegWrite, REG_DWORD,HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender,disableantispyware,0x00000001
  msgbox, MsMpEng.exe  is DESACTIVATED ( set to 1 )
  }
  
RegRead,value, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender,disableantispyware
msgbox,If 1 then is MsMpEng.exe desactivated NOW changed to =%value%
return

RunAsAdmin2:
full_command_line := DllCall("GetCommandLine", "str")
if not (A_IsAdmin or RegExMatch(full_command_line, " /restart(?!\S)"))
{
  try
  {
  if A_IsCompiled
    Run *RunAs "%A_ScriptFullPath%" /restart
      else
    Run *RunAs "%A_AhkPath%" /restart "%A_ScriptFullPath%"
  }
ExitApp
}
return
;=================== end script ======================================
Last edited by garry on 24 Oct 2018, 15:07, edited 1 time in total.
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SpeedMaster
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

24 Oct 2018, 14:41

jeeswg wrote:
23 Oct 2018, 22:19
- I have a mini laptop, Windows 7, a few years old, and it's slow even when nothing is running (except for a virus checker and AutoHotkey).
Planned Obsolescence :evil: :cry:

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/sc ... -Windows-7
vasili111 wrote:
27 Jun 2017, 13:23
- Add RAM? Add SSD? But, is it really worth to spend money on an old notebook?
this is the reaction that marketing professionals are looking for :?
forcing you to buy new equipment ... business is business :xmas:
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jeeswg
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

24 Oct 2018, 15:36

- On my main PC, my Desktop had a lot of files, around 100-1000, moving these files out sped things up.
- Similarly, Internet Explorer sped up when I moved some files out of the My Pictures folder.
- Windows Photo Viewer is very slow to open when you have too many files in a folder. So I use a basic AutoHotkey alternative.
- I had been wondering if clearing some specific registry logs might improve things.
- Also, there was an 'Adjust for best performance' option on Windows XP (versus 'Adjust for best appearance'), I wondered if Windows 7 had something similar. [EDIT: It's available in Windows 7 also. I already turned off aero mode a long time ago, when I noticed that the Find dialog in Notepad was slow to appear.]
- I notice sometimes that certain actions on Explorer windows trigger external hard drives to start making noises.
- (Re. the examples I just mentioned, sometimes the tweaks can be quite simple.)
- Thanks Drugwash, garry and SpeedMaster.
- I'm really tempted to start using Linux now, more specifically, the most lightweight Linux. Just as I'd finally mastered Windows (more or less) thanks to AutoHotkey.

[EDIT:] Re. 'Adjust for best performance', you can navigate to it like so:
control sysdm.cpl,,3 [put this into the Run dialog and press enter]
Performance, Settings...
I unticked everything except these 4:
Show thumbnails instead of icons [to see image thumbnails in folder windows]
Smooth edges of screen fonts [don't know how much difference this makes]
Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop [I couldn't read the Desktop icon labels without this]
Use visual styles on windows and buttons [without this it looks like Windows 95, i.e. a little too basic]

[EDIT:] If the CPU usage on Task Manager is at a low percentage, you might think the PC would run fast. What other performance indicators are there?
Last edited by jeeswg on 06 Dec 2018, 23:19, edited 1 time in total.
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nnnik
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

25 Oct 2018, 01:25

There is RAM, HDD and GPU.
If your RAM is used up OSes will start using the Hard Disk as RAM. Since Windows is not very good at doing that your PC will experience a massive Performance drop.

While working with a rather slow PC myself I noticed that the internet connection also constantly reads and writes to the HDD. Disabling the internet connection made my PC a lot faster if it uses too much RAM.

Lastly you probably have an on board graphics that will also use you internal RAM. Playing around with the size of that that's defined in the BIOS can probably make specific tasks faster.

Reinstalling windows normally has the most effect for me though.
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Noesis
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Re: advice for speeding up a very slow PC

25 Oct 2018, 01:53

When CPU usage isn't causing a slow down, the next thing I'd be inclined to check is if slows downs occur during periods of high Disk activity.

As I'm sure you know, what causes the activity could be any of a number of things, as mentioned by nnnik, Also the re-configuring /changing of the virtual ram available / pagefile size also increases disk activity in addition to the activity of using the pagefile, eg. when windows is set to dynamically allocate/manage pagefile size, might help a little to set a static size, It's not usually helpful anymore but if memory serves it was common advice in the 98 - XP era (and I think you mentioned it was running XP).

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