slow computer lately? (windows)

 

problems that apply to any personal computer (Mac, PC), any OS (Operating System)

  • bad disk blocks in a critical area like the filesystem or swap or somewhere like where programs are loading. this will cause 10 (?at least that what it was with old MFM and RLL controllers in the BIOS those had) retries until it gives up and tgives a failure and windows marks it as a bad block if I am not mistaken, and disks are slow, so this will take a long time if there a quite a few bad blocks or the same block gets read/written many times. worst case would be if it was in the $MFT (core of the filesystem). the data may be recoverable with grc's spinrite to bring back marginal sectors - spinrite may not work. after this fix is to copy the disk using fssdev.com's casper (warning: differing sector sizes won't work too well with XP and lower and possibly vista also, may only work for 7 and above)
  • cpu cooler needs cleaning
  • virus/spyware/trojan/worm: get norton 360 and boot the disc to clean, try also to use "norton rescue tools" (search on symantec.com or norton.com, requires product key)
  • network disconnected and access has been attempted by something such as antivirus update - or virus, or one of your applications, or notification area icons (will cause freeze for - was it 20 seconds or 2 minutes or 20 minutes?). I think it was 2 minutes to timeout where tcp/ip gives up and throws an error to the app and the app gives up - or retries... connect [to] your network. then right click on the connection and then right-click your connection and pick repair/troubleshoot/diagnose. I think this used to be a problem with older windows. not so much anymore. later service packs seem to fix this problem in XP.
  • you don't have enough RAM. max out the RAM is my rule. that means replacing all of it usually. read
  • overheating damage - you can try to clean computer cpu and video card cooler out, this may help, but if it's still slow, you are stuck.
  • running a cookie cleaner like ccleaner or running a registry cleaner even if this report isn't true, my experience with writing registry controls and trying manual removal by hand and my understanding of writing programs and installers that use the registry leads me to believe that you should not touch the classes and GUIDs and typelib (activex/COM+) parts of the registry or some other areas where the application resides, you can damage the windows installation and everything else in it. some of those activex controls are SHARED. I haave also discovered that registry and cookie cleaners and temp file cleaners are like a bull in a china closet. so avoid CCLEANER and turn off the parts of your antivirus optimization/cleanup that remove these things. \windows\temp directory is used to put installers and programs into unfortunately by many vendors because it's "open territory" (and "supposedly" safe. but it's not safe to put installers there anymore for you software developers out there! it's now dangerous territory that can be obliterated by an antivirus program (and subsequently damage the installation of your programs). I was informed from a good source that cookie cleaners corrupt browsers. a cookie cleaner won't slow down the machine, but it just causes damage to the browser. norton lets you choose what parts to optimize. have not tried mcafee lately.
  • see this page on Optimize Windows? avoid deleting the temporary files and you will be OK. keep the temp files safe at least until programmers learn not to keep installing programs there.

too many programs installed

having many programs installed (I had at least 200).

parallel port and HP printer drivers

parallel port and HP printer drivers cau cause a repeated 1-2second system pause.

having a wireless card

having a wireless card can cause a repeated 1-2second system pause.

laptops: cpu overuse

multicore laptop processors turn off cores when it is in the interest of keeping power usage down. that means it gets slower.

the only way to get around that is to disable that feature and get a good laptop cooler because your laptop is going to run hot (especially if you are gaming).

laptops:clogged cpu cooler

having the cpu cooler cleaned if it hasn't been cleaned in 2-3 years would be a good idea. they get clogged with dirt and hair (especially pet hair). can of air won't work.

should cost somewhere around $75 or $259 (toshiba) maybe, but get an estimate if you need to. go through service department to find authorized service shop in town.

desktops:clogged cpu cooler

you can clean your desktop cpu cooler with canned air which you can get from Costco in bulk or an office supply store (officemax, staples, office depot) if it's not real bad or with canned air and tweezers if it has dust clods embedded. I like to clean mine every 3-4 months or just if I see dust. best to clean outside. let the computer acclimate to the inside temperature for 24 hours. here are the steps to clean.

should cost somewhere around $5 maybe, but get an estimate if you are afraid to get inside your computer. go through service department to find authorized service shop in town.

nearly full filesystem.

Got a lot of software installed? or do you have a lot of files? when you open up My Computer and list details for the C: drive, does it show pretty much 50% space left or less? you have a lot of files!

you can defrag all you want, but it's probably not going to make a lot of difference.

if you get down to 15% free, defrag and autodefrag will refuse to work.

when a filesystem is full or half full, files that are accessed are scattered around the filesystem, and that means it has to chase them randomly across the entire disk surface.

HPFS and NTFS, which is usually the default filesystem type installed for Windows and MAC, store the MFT at the center of the disk, and start storing files from the center of the disk toward the outside. CD's and DVD's also store from the inside out. worst case, files to be accessed in sequence are on they are on the outside of the disk, and the next ones are on the inside of the disk - you end up with the disk head sweeping across the entire disk from place to place in order to get to files. that is really slow.

remember what I said about storing from the center out? well the operating system files are stored in the center, and your user files are stored everywhere else. the more files, the longer the access time. the slower the computer.

that's why when you install windows from scratch all over again everything's faster. it might not be necessarily spyware.

not enough RAM.

  • 3.1: get 32MB is max
  • 98: get 128MB+ 256MB is max.
  • 2000:get 512MB+. I think 1GB is max.
  • xp:get 1GB+ for 32-bit, 2GB+ if you have 64-bit. 4GB max for 32-bit, might be 16GB for 64-bit.
  • vista:get 4GB if you have 64-bit, 8GB+ if you have 64-bit and you can afford it
  • 7: get 2GB+ for 32-bit, 4GB+ for 64-bit if you can afford it.

actually, with Vista, the size of memory doesn't matter beyond about 2GB. but it matters with 7. in vista the rest is used up by the Superfetch service (which you can disable). if you bought a system that was cheap (getting by with the minimums, your performance is going to suffer, and it's possible you may not be able to run some programs. most games require 4GB of RAM at least. ALWAYS before buying software and printers, whatever, check the System Requirements to be sure your system supports it. if your system is capable of expading to enough RAM to handle the sitiation, then install at least that much memory. I prefer to max the memory out, this does several things:

  • I don't have to worry about memory again or mess with the memory situation again.
  • the system will be maxed out for the next person who gets the machine should you sell it. it will make it more valuable.
  • you can run more programs.
  • you can possibly run even multiple programs at once, depending on the application type and how much memory you add.
  • your system will probably run faster (thrash less)
  • windows will use the extra memory for disk read cache - this makes for a faster system
  • photoshop and after effects and premiere and similar adobe apps will like you more :-D actually it will chew up what you put in, just remember to close and reopen when you run out of memory

Virtual Memory (needs to use fixed instead of system-managed).

Virtual Memory slows down the computer because by definition it swaps chunks of very fast memory to very slow disk.

System-managed does a lot of disk allocation and deallocation and fragmentation with the swap space and tends to be much slower than fixed swap space.

got crashes? programs ending all by themselves? increase Virtual Memory.

This requires disk space. I like to use a fixed 4GB for a 32-bit OS, 24GB for a 64-bit OS if possible.

If you are low on disk space, adjust the size of VM accordingly or set the minimum to 1GB (2000/xp) and the maximum to be handled by the OS.

But realize that having VM slows down the computer. If you can get by with massive amounts of RAM and you need the performance gain, do it. using a fixed VM/swap space speeds up virtual memory.

If you can have 4GB RAM (32-bit OS) or 16/24GB RAM (64-bit OS), essentially maxing out the RAM and turn off VM, do it, but there is a side effect - you will not be able to go into standby after upgrading past 1GB on XP (you can hibernate though using shift-H instead of using S for standby).

On linux VM is referred to as the swap partition(s).

I do not know how you deal with this on the new MacOSX. Macs generally take less memory than their windows counterparts.

using virtual memory at all - solution: disable

as of about 4/2014, windows 7 has several virtual memory bugs. I expect these to go away at some point.

Virtual memory is supposed to give you more memory above what you have physically. IF you have enough RAM, like at least 8-12GB, you should be fine with turning it off.

Performance gain: could be up to 2x speed improvement.

  1. [windows-logo-flag-key]-[pause/break], advanced, advanced, performance, settings, advanced, change
  2. for each drive that has a paging file set:
    1. click the drive
    2. click No paging file
    3. click set
  3. click OK on all open dialogs. at any time, reboot if it asks.
  4. if you have not rebooted, restart.

Antivirus weekly scans.

this will really bog down your computer. at least on windows systems it is generally very resource intensive and with the possible exception of Vista, hogs the entire machine.

Antivirus updates

this will really bog down your computer if you have a slow internet connection. at least on windows systems it is generally very resource intensive on old boxes and with the possible exception of Vista, hogs the entire machine. But I wouldn't turn off your antivirus updates just because it is making your computer slow.

windows updates

this will really bog down your computer if you have a slow internet connection. in fact, you should not do anything on the computer while you see the yellow shield in the notifications area (lower right hand corner of screen).

it is generally very resource intensive even on new boxes, hogs the entire machine.

I generally configure Windows Update to "download but let me choose when to install" them. this way, my work doesn't get interrupted with a random reboot.

slow processor.

technology advances. the technology you have will eventually be outmoded (until the elements melt with fervent heat - I don't want to stick around that long), but you can sure maximize its use.

The only way to fix this is with either a processor upgrade (may not be that easy to do - can you still get the proc?) or a motherboard upgrade (usually necessitates upgrading the video card, power supply, memory, case, and motherboard) - costs at least $600 if you haven't upgraded in a long time. You might as well buy a new $600 quad-core computer for the price of the parts. but remember, buying a new windows 7 computer requires buying all new peripherals too.

so maybe living with it until the machine is absolutely useless (or useless to you) is good. then recycle it.

My mother's windows 98 machines and windows 3.1 machines are still running, though they are run less often, probably total of about 12 years.

to make it usable for a longer period:

  • replace the power supply after 5-7 years or if the fan stops or is making noises (immediately!). DON'T SKIMP on your power supply. the $35 cheapos will burn out in a year, most likely due to the sleeve bearning fan seizing and the PSU generating a lot of heat due to inefficiency. you can tell it's a sleeve bearing fan if you can remove the fan blade assembly and you find a round cylinder "sleeve" magnet in the fan blade assembly. what happens with this is that the fan may wobble and cause wear in the soft rubber magnet, then it starts to make noise worse and worse and gets slower and slower making the power supply hotter and hotter (and the system too), then it eventually stops permanently. that's for the cheapo fans. I had thought that the 80 plus would save me money on power bills, but according to my calculations, it doesn't. cheaper PSU's have:
    • extra heat
    • break down more often, and faster - within 3-6 months as opposed to 12+ years
    • fan breakdown due to sleeve bearing fans (which can cause breakdown)
    • uses lesser quality electronic parts, may not last as long in addition to above even if fan were good
    • if it's the only exhaust fan in the system, and it fails, there is the possibly of system damage. pray? or just get a new case with better cooling. fry's electronics has some nice ones like the corsair 400r, 500r, 600t, antec nine hundred series, twelve hundred and eleven hundred series, and theere are smaller cases in that series like the 300. make sure your cooling matches your processor! for instance, for a 150W i7-3970x get a carbide 500r or 400r or antec 900 or 1100 series case. for a i7-3770k which is only 77W you can probably get something lesser, maybe.
  • for laptops, you MAY have to replace the $20 wifi card, but if you have to do that the laptop may not be far behind from needing a $600 screen replacement, and within a year, $600 total replacement - expect about 5 years lifespan for laptop. spend your money on a desktop instead, at least you can replace the parts for cheaper.
  • upgrade/replace hard disk after 5 years. I suggest upgrades because the recovery partition is on there probably on pre-made systems. buy a new hard drive and use fssdev.com's casper 7.0 (buy the windoss version, then buy the ISO version and use the ISo version, license requires you to get the windows version in order to get the ISO) total $69.95 + price of drive which is about $90-$400
  • clean the cpu cooler every 3 months on a desktop, costs a can of air $3/1 can-$16/6 cans at costco or an office supply store, every year on a laptop, costs about $75-$259 (toshibas are expensive) you take it to an authorized laptoip repair shop. back up your data before taking to shop! they may wipe the hard disk and reinstall the OS fresh as part of the service! for desktops, do the cleaning outside in a covered area, it's going to be dusty, cough, cough!!!
  • replace the thermal grease on the cpu every 5 years. I suggest antec formula 7 - if you have a hard time with making conductive messes, then have someone else do it, or else get arctic ceramique (which has lesser thermal conductive properties but isn't electrically conductive). clean old stuff off with 90% rubbing alcohol or arctic remover and paper towels and use clothes you don't care about ruining.
  • replace any closed loop water coolers every 5 years $100
  • replace optical drives every 5 years $80 for blu-ray, $25 for DVD

software bloat.

Programs like Norton Antivirus get relatively huge and slow like a lumbering giant. Norton Internet Security is a good package to have, but Norton 360 includes a lot of things you don't necessarily need or use. Mcafee Total Security is better.

More software installed=somewhat slower computer.

the registry tends to get larger and larger even though programs get uninstalled (they don't uninstall completely). Norton and Mcafee are one of those that leave things behind, though they are good programs to have.

spyware/worm/virus/trojan

this is pretty much the last thing to check.

usually if your machine is infected the only thing you can do these days is reinstall windows (format). booting a set of recovery discs you can get from the system mfr or original windows install discs is highly suggested in this case. don't let the machine on the network until after you have booted the disc and you are finished formatting the disk and copying files. you can activate later make sure you do. or you may not be able to use windows.

Don't worry about tracking cookies - those are not real spyware. A lot of software makes a big deal about them when they are not.

from now on, avoid suspicious web sites and questionably/icky/bad-named web sites or web sites that have only IP addresses.

real spyware usually gets installed on your computer and you don't want it there. Some spyware can be removed with their own installer/uninstaller which is really convenient. it takes some registry research to find the unwise/uninstaller or installshield uninstaller string usually. with some, you run the installer program with the /u parameter from the command line (best from start|run with double quotes on the executeable path so the directories get removed).

I digress.

Spyware generally reports back over the internet to a server somewhere or downloads ads from a server somewhere and uses up precious internet bandwidth (speed). This is generally not something you want, because it can expose you to network attack by hackers (this is one of the reasons why a nice session with your firewall software or router and tcpview from microsoft would be good).

some spyware may do damage to your computer (the term "spyware" has morphed to include this definition), such as rootkits.

Even though Vista is supposed to be near-impervious to viruses and such, you will notice that it comes with Windows Defender. it still needs anti-spyware software. I do not recommend leaning on Windows Defender or windows firewall alone, because from the last time I heard, both could be disabled from a malicious web page.

I suggest you get an Internet Security package (antivirus+antispyware+firewall) like Mcafee Total Security, Norton 360.

have a laptop and not using a laptop cooler

this can shorten your laptop's lifespan. get a fan-based one for your laptop NOW $20-$70.

get one with a high-numbered CFM. see here for laptop coolers.

fragmented filesystem (NOT for SSD's!

WARNING: if you defrag an SSD it will reduce its lifespan, probably significantly! defragging is for hard drives ONLY.

computers slow down because the disk blocks that make up each file can get scattered across the disk instead of being sequential like they should be optimally.

This occurs because files (temporary and other) get deleted and created, and the method used by the Operating System to allocate and deallocate disk space can leave "holes" in files or can be forced to scatter them because a sequential block may not be available. this situation is better in later versions of windows such as windows 7 and 8.

nothing's perfect down here, folks.

files optimally should be contiguous, meaning they should be not broken up [all over the place]. The OS fragments files because of the algorithm it uses for finding a new free block (which isn't always the next sector, track, and cylinder over). the next one may be way over somewehere else on the disk at a given time. so it gets fragmented.

to fix this (as best as possible, close all your programs, even the ones in your system tray/notification area, and:

open up my computer, right click on the drive and pick properties, tools, defragmentation. analyze, then defrag/optimize. give it the whole night, this can take up to 2 days per drive - if it does take that long, I would highly suggest a rebboot in between sessions to keep your system stable.

not really a fix for SSD's, if those go bad, they go bad because of the limit of number of writes per block (this is mitigated by wear leveling algorithms). once a given block hits its limit on number of writes per block, that block goes bad. and it's more like a cluster in the case of flash.

try a reputable registry cleaner (but I AVOID these because they generally cause slowdowns and corruption!)

If you are in the habit of adding and removing programs, or getting spyware on your computer, you MAY need this.

a registry cleaner such as PC Tools Registry Mechanic and do a registry defrag. doing a clean might not hurt either.

If you do the clean first, its results will get included in the registry defrag/compact. but don't let it scan on startup because it's slow and you don't want that.

WARNING: I have made studies of how registry cleaners and cookie cleaners work, and even the good ones like this registry cleaners are like a bull in a china closet and can actually do damage. I HIGHLY SUGGEST you only use in case of extreme emergency. a safer, better program to fix your "messed up computer" situation and refresh your hard drive may be grc.com's spinrite. if you can't afford that, you can try a chkdsk /f /r c: on hard drives only, not SSD's. chkdsk /f c: on SSD's

not really a fix for SSD's, if those go bad, they go bad because of the limit of number of writes per block (this is mitigated by wear leveling algorithms). once a given block hits its limit on number of writes per block, that block goes bad. and it's more like a cluster in the case of flash.

read this article

my article on registry cleaners and why you should avoid them

clean your CPU cooler and the inside of your computer every 6 months to 1 year.

article 1

article 2

bad disk blocks

there are only a certain number of blocks the hard disk can mark as bad before it totally gives up.

bad blocks will definitely slow down your computer WAY DOWN. bad blocks on the disk can be caused by 3 things I can think of:

  • sector is marginal, therefore hard disk marks it as bad.
  • soft errors are made often by hard disk vibrations, often caused by out-of-balance, noisy cd/dvd media that vibrates the whole machine. yeah, and it vibrates the hard disk, and the heads too, causing soft errors on the disk, which can be fixed only by a format (windows) maybe GRC can fix stuff like this really well. fills up your bad sector list to the full really fast. just request a new cd from the manufacturer because it's defective, and immediately take the cd out of the drive.
  • hard errors, often caused by age or physical drops.

one solution to turn marginal sectors back into good data and get your data back is GRC's SpinRite 6. but users of it say that it doesn't always work. when it works, it works well.

another less then savory solution is to run chkdsk /f /r. but it works. [windows-logo-flag-key]-R chkdsk /f /r [Enter] y [Enter] then reboot.

not really a fix for SSD's, if those go bad, they go bad because of the limit of number of writes per block (this is mitigated by wear leveling algorithms). once a given block hits its limit on number of writes per block, that block goes bad. and it's more like a cluster in the case of flash.

registry cruft

installing and uninstalling programs leaves a lot of leftover junk in the registry. before you use a registry cleaner (which I DON'T recommend, they are not good at determining what is safe to remove, but if you must, then use Registry Mechanic), and you are an expert, you should leave it alone. don't mess with it. safer that way (unless you like reinstalling windows and having something slower and less.

DO NOT USE A REGISTRY CLEANER OR CCLEANER! they are like a bull in the china closet. oftentimes they do not know if a particular registry entry is in use or not and will simply remove it. registry entries don't always come with such an indicator (depends on how the program that created the entry uses it)! registry cleaners according to a review made the system slower.

WARNING: doing these steps wrong (regarding the rd command and the for /r command) or skipping a step can lead to a blank or corrupted OS! you should already have some basic knowledge about the cmd shell! following is for experts:

  1. uninstall the application you want to get rid of
  2. restart the computer
  3. use a cmd.exe shell (start, [run, ] type in cmd, Enter) and cd into the c:\program files\appname to see if the files still exist. your Program Files directory will be different if you are on a 64-bit system.
  4. do a dir /s/b/a-d, this will show any files (but not directories).
  5. make absolutely sure the directory you are in (shown in your cmd-shell prompt) is the correct directory before you do the next operation, because there is no undo, you can only reinstall the app. At this point, if you choose the system directory you can wipe out your system, or if you forget to cd down from c:\program files into your appname, you can wipe out all your programs. You have to *think* about what you are doing and have a clear head and concentration when doing this.
  6. do a for /r %x in (*.exe *.ocx *.dll) do c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe /u "%x" or you can do simply for /r %x in (*.exe *.ocx *.dll) do regsvr32.exe /u "%x" (if you are sure your system is spyware free) to uninstall any leftover .dll, .ocx, or .exe files left over after the uninstallation.
  7. there will be a lot of OK messageboxes saying that either there was no entry point found or that it was successfully unregistered.
  8. check the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run using regedit for any entries which may start any apps in that directory and delete those entries.
  9. do control-alt-delete and look for any of the EXEs named in the list you saw and do an end-task on those.
  10. in the cmd shell, do rd * /s /q
  11. in the cmd shell, di dir - the only things you should see are . and .. in the listing, which you can ignore.
  12. If you still have files left over, you need to seriously go after this program, because it still have some background DLL or control or something tied into a browser, or windows explorer, or something else, and it's going to take some real effort to extricate it from the system. obviously their uninstaller didn't do a good job. some of yahoo's stuff is like that.
  13. restart the computer.
  14. try starting the cmd shell again and cd'ing into the app's directory in c:\program files\appname and see if you can remove the files again using rd * /s /q and then do a dir to see if it was removed. this time, the app is more likely to have not started on startup like last time, and if it is not running, the files are not locked, and if the files are not locked, you can delete them.

network connection confusion

windows networking such as TCP/IP, NETBUI can get confused about which physical network hardware connection to go through if you have multiple of them enabled.

best rule of thumb is to only enable the connection you want to use and disable the rest.

With windows networking, there is no "default" physical network connection to go through (unlike printers, where you always have a default printer that things print through by default) unless possinly you manyally set up routing tables in the computer, and that can be complicated (I don't know to do that).

So when:

  • windows does its obligatory network phone home to microsoft
  • browser tries to load a web page
  • email client decides to get the mail
  • the BITS service tries to get a windows update
  • Adobe/Corel or whatever software which you started tries to check its license by network "phoning home"
  • yahoo mail or whatever web mail holds open a connection to yahoo/whatever
  • one of your computer's network services are being accessed via the LAN
  • etc...

All these are examples of network events. when any or all of these happen, I think windows will try one of the available connections. if that doesn't succeed within 30 minutes, it will try the next network connection. it will keep doing this until it reaches a working connection.

at least this is my best understanding of how it works. with windows, trying a dead network connection essentially freezes the entire computer (happens to me, I have what windows thinks is a dual-proc machine, 1 core 2 threads, so it's not just 1 proc, it's the whole XP OS, have not tried this with 7). happens on other people's machines as well, so my computer's not alone...

people-entropy: getting "used to the new speed"

After about 2 weeks of using the computer, it seems to be slower than when you first used it. and the more you use it, the slower it gets. Even though you have

  • cleaned off unused apps
  • cleaned up disk space
  • defragged
  • maxed out or increased your RAM (memory)
  • reinstalled windows (well, that helped to some degree)

partly this can be caused by filesystem fill-up and stuff being stored in the registry (I don't recommend registry cleaners! - like bull in china closet) along with the fact that programs are being installed (this is normal), and partly this can be caused bya person getting used to the new speed.

but to be honest, sometimes it just because we have gotten used to the machine and it's not so blazingly new anymore. people get used to speed, it's sort of like a built-in entropy.

It comes down to this - If you bought the computer to get something done, and it's still doing this for you, then great. if it's an annoyance, you can probably live with it, I have thought that the new OS's are not nearly as easy to use.

BUT,

  • if if the speed has become a major stoppage
  • or the computer's HARDWARE is broken in ways you can't work around by buying a piece of replacement hardware (this is the kind of thing that an OS reinstall+drivers-reinstall can't fix)
  • or new hardware is no longer available which will work with (meet the system requirements of) the old system
  • or no more software is available which works with the old system (such as is pretty much the case with windows 9x/me)

then I would suggest getting a NEW machine.

desktops are great for workarounds. they run and run for years with maintenance and parts replacement. Laptops are good for 5 years. workarounds by buying a replacement piece of hardware are much less expensive than buying a new machine. laptops have the advantage of being portable, but they are expensive to maintain ($75) and especially expensive to repair ($200-$800/whack).

XP auto-defrag

this process kicks in without a trace and without warning and starts defragging your drive. It does it when it needs to. Still, you will need to periodically defrag your drive.

Your drive will not defrag if you don't have 15% free space (I learned this the hard way - I had to migrate/upgrade to a larger disk. there are programs for this). Once this process kicks in, your system availability takes a dive - it really slows down because any disk activity causes the whole computer to slow down - this is due to the way XP was written. Vista and Windows 7 do not have this problem. I can't remember, but I don't think 98's defrag is not automatic and you must do it (and scandskw) in safe mode or from the command-line in ms-dos-only mode or from your boot disk/disc. 3.1 does not have defrag because it is based on DOS and DOS doesn't have defrag (except freedos, and it doesn't run windows 3.1 yet).

Hot Room/Computer in Sunshine

putting your computer in the sunshine is a mistake. Ever felt your car on a hot day? well your computer doesn't like it either. Computers like it in the range of cool to a comfortable room temperature. in other words, something comfortable for you.

80° is too hot! if it's that hot in your room, immediately shut off the computer.

Heat can kill hard drives and other computer components. the question is, just how much? each IC/component generates a different quantity of heat - that especially includes electromechanical mechanical devices like optical drives and hard drives, which get especially hot. the cpu and video card get very hot as well. and with the new motherboards, there are now heat pipes on some components of the motherboard...

is your room making you feel hot and draggy? same thing. shut it off or use some air conditioning.

IC/device Temperature ranges

Most IC's are rated to handle an Absolute Maximum of 85°C=185°F, at which point they are destroyed. Not all semiconductors are rated for that temperature.

Hard drives (see your hard drive manual if you want to know) are typically rated for 65°C=149°F and some are rated for a different temp like 45°C=113&de3g;F. And then there are the wider temperature range military spec stuff, but those aren't typically used in commercial mobos - until just recently. I have long since forgotten what the military spec temp range was.

Installation/Optical Disc Reading Issues

Dying Optical Drive

since you are INSTALLING software or trying to READ/COPY from a disc, it could easily be the optical drive.

Optical Drives, like hard drives, only last for 5 "on"/working years. slow optical drive slows down the entire hard drive installation process.

scratched/smudged/dirty disc media

scratched/smudged/dirty optical media... yeah, that would do it.... for which venmill makes some pretty awesome (and expensive) disc resurfacing machines...

only handle the disc by the edges - I like using my pinky finger in the center hole and other fingers around the edges to help pull a disc out of the tray.

Keep the disc in a sleeve or in an UNDER-packed cd wallet. I have noticed that my discs in a packed cd wallet, well, the separator material is abrasive at some pressure... - I wasn't too impressed. Case Logic makes a 300-cd wallet which works very nicely and has plenty of space - buy several if you need to.

unbalanced disc media

unbalanced media that vibrates (buzzes), we all know those real well... these cause soft errors on the hard drive because the case (and thus the hard drive) is vibrated. especially with laptops.

hard drive can be fixed by reformatting. also tell the disc manufacturer the problem and request replacement media. there may be a cost involved.

lots of files

lots of files in the filesystem only slow things down when you access the filesystem.

fragmented filesystem

lots of files in the filesystem only slow things down when you access the filesystem.

windows itself

windows 7/8/8.1+ and maybe vista all have the feature where there are some system folders where a whole bunch of programs are piled into. see next heading.

too many files in 1 folder

doing logging or security cameras? install a lot of programs or a ginormous pictures folder where everything is piled into 1 folder? then you probably already know this.

windows gets slow when accessing the directory or doing directory tree walks or virus scans on that folder that has a huge number of files. for some antiviruses, this consumes memory too, so if it crashes, it's because you have too many files in the folder and you need to move them elsewhere using a linux livecd like gparted or systemrescuecd after you have properly shut down the machine (critical, otherwise ntfs-3g cannot access the filesystem). make sure your BIOS is set to boot the cd first (boot priority).

driver installation was in incorrect order

Apparently, a Dell support guy mentioned that drivers must be installed in the order given.

fix: reinstall windows and do it right. not sure if doing it right after doing it wrong will fix things (OS hooks and such?). for good treatment of whole process see format computer to factory state

using a hard disk

RAM speed bottlenecks the cpu's internal speed, and because of this, cpu designs factor this into the design. otherwise, we would have 4GHz RAM as a rule and not 1600MHz (intel) I think and systems would be 2x faster apart from the extremely slow hard disk (1/8ms=1/8e-3s=3.125Hz average access frequency).

now you know where the computer's real bottleneck comes from - the very very slow hard disk. which is why computers still take 1-5min to boot.

newer windows

the newer windows gets, some things happen:

  • boot time decreases usually between old and new version of windows
  • the newer of windows gets heaver in the quantity of files - it gets bigger
  • newer has higher system requirements, so requires newer hardware
  • newer consumes more RAM
  • newer is slower than older OS overall as far as application loading, general processing and GUI work

win8 is slower than win7 and about 2-3x slower than xp. you could also say that xp is slower than windows 98. however, newer OS adds some needed functionality usually. windows 8 you can have hyper-v server which allows you to have a whole bunch of VM's, win7 adds file version control sort of.