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Q: Why is my computer running slowly? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   7 Comments )
Subject: Why is my computer running slowly?
Category: Computers > Operating Systems
Asked by: 484572-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 14 Sep 2002 22:11 PDT
Expires: 14 Oct 2002 22:11 PDT
Question ID: 65175
Hi: My computer has been running very slowly and erratically lately
(last week or two).
This is a situation which I would obviously like to remedy.

Specifically, it takes a long time for programs or new windows to
launch, and the system is exceptionally unstable - it crashes
repeatedly, especially (though not exclusively) when demanding
programs, like Kazaa, are active.

As far as possible causes, I downloaded a new version of the Java
("J2RE") software recently, and installed a driver for an HP
printer-scanner-copier (PSC 950). I am a moderately heavy Kazaa user,
but no
changes in volume recently. Notably, some video downloaded from Kazaa
refuses to be deleted (according to the error message, it is "being
used by another person or program," even though no multimedia programs
are active).

I ran a Norton virus check, and defragmented my hard drive; to no
avail. Windows Task Manager shows "Explorer.exe" taking up large
amounts of RAM - 110-130 MB, at times, even when no Windows Explorer
windows are open.

I am puzzled; to clarify, I am looking for a solution to my computer's
strange performance. Whichever response resolves this (within reason:
e.g., no OS reinstall) will be considered the "answer."

My system is a Compaq Presario 2700 notebook, 1 Ghz, 512 MB RAM,
running Windows XP Home.

Please ask for clarification, if neccesary; I will do my best to

Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
Answered By: shananigans-ga on 14 Sep 2002 23:04 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi 484572,

Installing a new driver should make no difference to your computer's
performance in the way you are suggesting.

You say that Explorer.exe is taking up a ridiculous amount of RAM, and
this is most likely what is causing your problem. When you are in Task
Manager, simply select (i.e. click on) Explorer.exe and press the 'End
Task' button. You might get a dialog box saying that the application
is 'busy' or something similar (I am not running Windows any more, so
I'm not sure of the exact wording) and that if you end the program
data will be lost. Press 'End Task' again, as there is no data for you
to lose.

This should fix your problem. If it does not, and you can't see that
any other program is using an abnormally large amount of RAM, check
the system processes (this is another one of the tabs on Task Manager)
and check how much processing power each of these is using - none of
them should be using very much. If everything appears to be OK there,
you may have to reinstall your OS, despite your reluctance to do so.

Sometimes 'detoxing' your computer by formatting and reinstalling the
OS is the only way to fix sluggish performance. If your fear comes
from inexperience, XP  (like other Windows versions) reinstalls via a
Wizard, and none of the steps are anything you can't work out on your
own. If yours is a new-ish notebook (as it appears to be) Windows will
be able to auto-detect your hardware settings. The only thing I can
see you getting confused on is which format you want your drive to be
- choose NTFS rather than FAT32. Just make sure you save all your
programs and files to a floppy disk or CD before you reinstall, and
test whether the save has been sucessful - there's nothing worse than
thinking you've got something saved and reinstaling an OS, only to
find out that your save was a dud.

If my first suggestion re: ending Explorer.exe and checking the tasks
does not work (although from what you've said it seems like it will),
please don't hesitate to provide more details of your system (what
programs are installed, drivers etc.) and we'll see what else we can
do for you. Hopefully a complete reinstall will not be necessary, but
sometimes it's the only way.

Best Wishes,

Request for Answer Clarification by 484572-ga on 15 Sep 2002 12:11 PDT
Hi: I realize I can shut down explorer.exe through Windows Task
Manager; but this usually causes my computer to crash. Also, this does
not explain why the system is behaving so strangely even when
explorer.exe is not consuming so much RAM, or indeed why explorer is
behaving in this way.  It also doesn't explain why I can't delete some
files.  Furthermore, it doesn't solve the underlying problem; even if
this did work, I would not want to have to repeat the procedure every
time I turn on my computer (or opened Windows Explorer).

I am already aware that I can reinstall the OS; what I'm looking for
is a solution which does not require this, and does address the
problem, whatever that may be. Reinstalls are extremely disruptive,
especially since I have a lot of files I would need to burn to CD (at
8X - assuming my burner is having a good day) and a lot of setting
which would need to be restored.

Clarification of Answer by shananigans-ga on 15 Sep 2002 18:48 PDT
Hello again,

It would have been helpful to know that your system was behaving
sluggishly even when explorer.exe is not consuming so much RAM. As
others have also requested, could you please check to see whether any
system processes are chewing large amounts of processing power?

Unfortunately, the 'comments' below have exhausted most of my further
suggestions for how to fix your computer, so the few I am giving you
will be 'last ditch' attempts, so to speak. If any of their
suggestions have worked for you, please reject my answer and allow the
appropriate other Googler to post their comment as an answer.

You say that you are a kazaa user, but 'no changes in volume' have
occured recently - what about other people downloading music/video
from you? Having lots of people downloading from you would put an
extra strain on your system, although this would be *in addition to*
the strain being caused by explorer.

Open the 'performance' tab on Task Manager - how much of your CPU
power is being used? If it's above about 5% (maximum if you're not
running video or a game), something's wrong. Once again, have a look
at your system processes - everything running should be taking '0',
except maybe 'system idle' and 'system idle processes. If anything
else is taking more than that, you've probably found your problem.

Are there any programs that you deleted from their location but did
not uninstall properly?

A couple of words of warning if you're going to try and repair windows
- the OS software that comes with notebook (it'll probably have the
notebook manufacturer's logo on it rather than the MS one) sometimes
goes ahead and does a complete reinstall because it's designed to be
'easy' to use.

If I haven't helped, please reject my answer and let one of the others
have a go,

Best wishes,
484572-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: coldfusion-ga on 15 Sep 2002 09:02 PDT
If you end explorer.exe, you will see the Windows interface disappear
- probably not what you had in mind. With that in mind, it can be
helpful to end explorer if it is taking up large amounts of resources.
At the same time remember that you have to go to file->new task
(run..) on the task manager menu and then type in explorer.

Explorer will then reload, hopefully taking up less memory.

One thing that would be nice to clarify would be whether you checked
to see if some processes are taking up large amounts of CPU time. This
would help determine what's slowing down your system.

I can no longer ask for clarification on this question though, as it
is already taken.

Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: deadlychiapet-ga on 15 Sep 2002 15:21 PDT
It is possible to reinstall Windows over itself without losing your
files, settings, etc...This works with XP Pro and it should work with
the home version, but I can't guarantee it. If you reboot your laptop
with your XP CD in the drive, you should be prompted to boot from it.
If not you'll need to go into the bios and tell it to boot from CD
before HDD. Once it loads and you get to the screen where you'd need
to pick from setting up a new install of Windows and the Recovery
Console, don't go into the console but pick the set up windows option.
At the next screen it should detect your install of Windows and offer
to repair it. Press R and you should be on your way! It might look
like it's reinstalling, but really it's not. When it finishes all your
settings will be there just the way you left them.

Good luck!
Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: missy-ga on 16 Sep 2002 07:20 PDT
Isn't Kazaa a program supported by advertising?  It may be that you've
got spyware running about in your system - I had a similar problem
several months ago, and solved it by running AdAware to clean things


It's free and very useful.  Be prepared for surprises, though.  The
first time I ran the software, it discovered *32* ad components!! 
Cleaning them out really boosted performance, though.

Once you've cleaned your system out, try a RAM utility.  Even though
you've closed a program, it may still be hanging around in your RAM,
making your system crawl.  I like FreeMem Professional to kick
programs out:

FreeMem by Plaxoft

It's free for 30 days for the Pro Edition (which is very useful and
well worth the $20), or you can use the less functional, but still
very useful, Standard Edition, which is permanantly free.

Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: 484572-ga on 16 Sep 2002 19:06 PDT
Hi: For the record, my CPU does become very active when I launch Kazaa
or any Windows Explorer window - it jump from nearly inactive to
pretty much 100%, and according to Windows Task Manager, Windows
Explorer is taking up 99%.

Again, I don't undersatnd why I can't delete one of the files
downloaded from Kazaa (the error message says it is being used by
another program, but the only window open is the Windows Explorer
window I'm trying to delete it from).

I don't think Kazaa is causing the trouble, because the problems
persist even after Kazaa is shut down. I ran Ad-Aware, and detected no
changes. I would suspect malicious spyware, but as I noted in the
original question, I ran a virus scan which turned up nothing.

As far as an "answer:" the problem seems to warrant more study than I
originally anticipated when setting the price, so I will let the
original answer stand. (Though I would love to be proven wrong: if the
CPU usage or antything else provides the missing piece of the puzzle,
I would be happy to PayPal the money anyone who posts a comment which
solves the problem, if this is allowed under the Google terms of
Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: jebster-ga on 04 Dec 2002 02:13 PST
I know this is quite old but I thought I'd give it a stab. First,
Virus programs won't find spyware, just viruses! Also try booting in
safe mode to delete the file you speak of. Is your virus definition
list up-to-date? Also have you tried disabling this that start at
start-up? If not go Start >> Run >> Type "Msconfig" and click the
startup tab, then uncheck anything that is not needed. Go here to see
what each of the thing in there are

And if posting to old questions is wrong, sorry, I read the TOS but
not see anything about it!
Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: markp-ga on 07 Jan 2003 16:50 PST
I have a similar thing happening.  I am runnin Kazaa 2.02, diet kaza
2.0, and XP home.

see  - this is like kazaa lite, but better. there is no
spyware / adware, it optimizes kazaa, downloads faster, very

This is somehow caused by Kazaa. and or diet kazaa. but i think kazaa.

kazaa is taking up nearly 100% cpu. - bad

kazaa uses around 20-30mb ram. that is normal.

to answer your question: why cant you delete the file.  - because you
downloaded a corrput file, or it became corrupted while downloading
due to a hiccup somewhere in the system / phone line / cable modem,
sending computer, kazaa, etc.

to fix this, try booting into safe mode, f8 at bootup, and del.  that
didnt work for me.

next I will be trying to go into recovery console, and delete it. but
you must first enable access to other directories than just the
c:\windows that is the default for recovery console.  "add power to
recovery console" or something, is the microsoft article to search for
there is a gui way, if you run xp pro, and you need a reg hack for xp
you can search internet, or someone can post it here.

next - your explorer goes to 100% cpu, because you "clicked" on or
"hovered" with your mouse over the corrupted file.

this behavior is very repeatable. I have had this happen as well.
-dont do that. make a note of which files are corrupted, and delete
them, or dont "hover" over them with the mouse.

I still dont have an answer why kazaa is pinning the cpu.

I suspect there is a "bug" in their code that is sucking up my cpu. 
Kazaa makes some money on, or is planning to, sell your cpu time to
companies for grid computing. harnessing your cpu, along with every
other kazaa user's cpu, for some common purpose.  They claim it will
only slice off 10% of your cpu, but if their code was "flawed"
accidentally of course, it could consume all your cpu. I have a AMD XP
1700 CPU.

I have noticed that if I end kazaa, and then restart kazaa, it starts
out normal, about 20-30% cpu, but after maybe 10 minutes, it eats it
all up, and slows down my computer.  I have even tried setting the
thread, right click kazaa.exe in task manager, to a lower priority,
but it doesnt work.  My computer remains unusable while kazaa is

I am also not overly using diet kazaa functions, dx accelerator
settings - 15 seconds in between, wait 2 mins full cycle, and I have
like 100 files qued.

I would like to see a script to disconnect / stop kazaa after 10
minutes, and restart it. this would be a good band aid.
Subject: Re: Why is my computer running slowly?
From: mysteryrain-ga on 21 Apr 2004 11:15 PDT
Ok right now i can tell you the probelm is NOT exployer.exe. If you
end this task you will lose Windows and will NOT be able to reload it
without Rebooting your computer. Also when ending task you have to be
careful because your computer and windows depend on some of those
tasks and if you end them your computer could freeze causing you to
have to reboot.Second Get rid of Kazaa and sownload a spyware
protector (spysweeper or adaware free version. Next have you tried
Scan disk or defragmanted your drive?

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