Slow chugging computer

My computer is giving me fits. It is slow and choppy when accessing the internet. I have cable 10mb with a router and one other computer on it.
My system is five years old, so far I have replaced the thermal grease as it seemed to be running a bit warm at 65 degrees. I cannot multi-task on it, it slows to a chug.
Here is what I have
OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 3 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation
System Name FATBABY
System Manufacturer MSI
System Model MS-7058
System Type X86-based PC
Processor x86 Family 15 Model 3 Stepping 4 GenuineIntel ~3400 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date American Megatrends Inc. 080011, 7/14/2004
SMBIOS Version 2.3
Windows Directory E:\WINDOWS
System Directory E:\WINDOWS\system32
Boot Device \Device\HarddiskVolume1
Locale United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer Version = "5.1.2600.5512 (xpsp.080413-2111)"
User Name FATBABY\Wanda
Time Zone Eastern Daylight Time
Total Physical Memory 512.00 MB
Available Physical Memory 560.76 MB
Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory 1.96 GB
Page File Space 3.85 GB
Page File E:\pagefile.sys

The processor is a pentium 4.
Any ideas are appreciated.
8 answers Last reply
More about slow chugging computer
  1. Clean up the computer and up the RAM, you physical memory is only at 512, up it to at least 1gb.

    Check for viruses, and run disk clean-up (in system utilities). These are at least a start. You should see a pretty big performance jump by increasing your physical ram.
  2. Unfortunately, the motherboard only supports DDR1, which is pretty old stuff. The most unfortunate thing about this is the price is higher than new RAM, due to production and availability.

    Here's a link to a 512mb module:

    Here's the cheapest 1gb module (on newegg):

    And Here's 2gb (2x1):

    You are looking for 184-pin DDR1 Ram modules. The motherboard supports, at most, 2gb.

    Here is a link to your motherboard's manual. It is bookmarked, so you can easily find the section on "Memory" which shows how to install the new modules.
  3. Good info, I can guess the problem from your post.

    Physical RAM: 512MB
    Page File: 3.85GB O.O !Ouch!

    You are most likely experiencing an effect called "thrashing". You only have .5 GB of RAM, but are trying to keep almost 4 GB of data in memory. To bypass the hardware RAM limitation, your PC swaps data from RAM to the hard drive in that Page File. With that high of a ratio a huge percentage of the time your CPU is busy just moving data between RAM and the HDD and does not have time to work on the task you want it to do.

    Its possible much of your problem is from a spyware or virus using your machine. You should get up to date virus and anti-spyware programs installed and do a thorough check.

    You will also have other applications running in background (antivirus, office quickload, automatic updates, etc) that take up both RAM and CPU. You should remove any programs you do not use and make sure you have alot of free space on your hard drive.

    You should not try to pull up many web browser sessions at a time. A single web browser screen with a facebook game can use anywhere from 100 to over 500GB of RAM. Every one of those you have up compounds your computers RAM limit problem.

    Hardware fixes would be either to increase the RAM to 1 or 2GB or just replace the computer with a newer one that has a dual or quad core CPU and more RAM.

    You do need to understand that your computer is very old by PC standards and is no longer really up to what is expected by current software applications. Replacing the PC is really the best solution. If you just do web stuff mainly, during the thanksgiving and christmas sales you can get little netbooks that will do that job for you fairly cheaply.
  4. Thank you for the information. I do have up to date antivirus, McAfee along with Ad Aware Pro. I also thought I had spyware running in the background but found nothing, I even wondered if someone else was accessing my computer. It has just been in the last few months that the "sluggishness" has gotten worse.

    I would like to get a new computer but really don't know if I am up to building another one. I haven't kept up with all the new technology since five years ago.

    How is the water cooling for the new computers and is it necessary? Also has technology changed that much that I couldn't build my own again? One last question is if I am going to do this should I go with the new i7 processors, what would you recommend. I am a multitasker, music, videos, and I like to play games. When I surf the web it is nothing for me to have multiple browsers open, although I do close a few out when I go to videos.

    I may install more memory to hold me over till Christmas and then donate the computer for our church.
    Thank you again for your help.
  5. Thank you for the links and your help with this. I am considering adding memory to help till the end of the year and then will check into a new computer.
  6. If it was me, I would run Passmark to benchmark the performance of the computer. Once you have a score, you can compare your results with others- specifically those that have the same CPU & GPU as you. If your results aren't similar to systems that are similar to yours, then you may have a problem. Backing everything up and reinstalling Windows will fix software issues and remove malware. If the problem persists, you most likely have a hardware issue.
  7. Watercooling is completely unnecessary. The latest $25-50 air coolers will support overclocking as strong as water coolers on the latest CPUs.

    Given your machines specs, which are very similar to the cheap e-machine I am typing on right now, the antivirus and anti-spyware are probably a significant part of your performance issues like they are mine. I wont turn them off, though; they are a necessary evil. The latest anti-virus and anti-spyware programs generally seem to be expecting you to have at least 1GB RAM and a dual core CPU. Whenever an update happens in the background, this computer becomes unresponsive for a couple minutes. It can be very frustrating, hopefully next year I can get it replaced also.
  8. How can I check for malware in safe mode? I remember reading somewhere how to do that but can't find where it was. I am hoping to deal with this computer till the holiday sales. I have ad aware pro.
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