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Very very slow loading taking over 10 minutes from boot speaker stuttering when playing music

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(Assuming Windows XP, since OS not reported.)

The problems you note are indicative of excessive hard drive activity. The sound issue, particularly, indicates possible disk thrashing as Windows runs out of memory and has to resort to a (fragmented?) pagefile. Each of the issues below is likely:

1. Hard drive heavily fragmented or has file system errors. Solution: boot into Safe Mode (During boot, Press the F8 key repeatedly to bring up the Boot Menu, select Safe Mode). Defrag: Open My Computer. RIGHT-CLICK on your C: drive. Select Properties> Tools. First CLICK on the button to check your disk for errors (just follow any prompts), then CLICK on the button to Defragment the hard drive.  NOTE: See #3 below for further information on defragmentation.


2.  While still in Safe Mode, run your anti-virus software, since malware can also cause the problems you note. Running your (up-to-date, I hope) anti-virus and anti-spyware scans in Safe Mode gives you a better chance of detecting and removing any malware.

3. Your pagefile ("virtual memory" file) and your Registry may be fragmented, and these two things aren't dealt with very well (if at all) by Windows' defragmenter. Solution? Pagedefrag (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897426.aspx --just copy and paste the link into your browser.). It's a utility originally from Mark Russinovich, bought and now maintained by Microsoft. Just download, install and use it according to the directions at the page noted in the URL. Highly recommended for all Windows systems Windows 2000 and above.

4. Is your system tray full of icons? You may have too many programs loading and running in the background. First, start msconfig by CLICKing Start>Run and typing msconfig in the dialog box. Press the Enter key. In msconfig, go to the Startup tab and UNcheck any programs that
   a. load at startup and that
   b. you do not want loading at startup

WRITE DOWN THE CHANGES YOU MAKE so that you can reverse them later if you experience probems with one or more programs you need. "OK" your way out of MSCONFIG and restart your computer. A little faster? Good. Not enough faster? Go back to MSCONFIG and try UNchecking a few more.

5. You may have services running in the background that you do not need. Select the appropriate list from Black Viper's Services pages (http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm) and make modifications to the Services Windows loads (and how it loads them) according to his recommendations. Again, WRITE DOWN THE CHANGES YOU MAKE so you can reverse them if necesary.

6.Too little system memory. Go to http://www.crucial.com (no, I do not work for Crucial nor do I get any compensation for recommending the company; I just like Crucial memory and like the company's guarantee/return policy) and run the memory configurator or select your computer from the drop-down lists. Buy more memory. Preferably as much as your computer can take.

7. Sadly, the symptoms mentioned can also indicate hardware problems--failing hard drive, heat issues, internal connections with built upo resistance because of deposits, corrosion. Those would be difficult to diagnose with the little info presented, and some impossible absent physical examination. Suggestions:

Buy a can of compressed air for electronics cleaning (no, you CAN'T use your compressor you hook your paint sprayer to :-)).Power your computer down and unplug it.  Open your case, GROUND YOURSELF on bare metal and use the compressed air to blow all the dust bunnies out. TAKE CARE when blowing dust out of the CPU fan and heat sink! Gently--GENTLY--touch the fan to keep it from spinning as you blow dust off it and out of the cooling fins of the heat sink.

Interestingly enough, I had a computer service call once where the only apparent issue causing very slow running was heat buildup from excessive dust bunny population. *heh*

Posted on Jul 17, 2008

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