Windows Slow? Well it may be easier to fix than you think

Isn’t it great! Your spanking new Desktop or laptop runs like a dream. Fast as lightning. Then as time progresses things start to happen. It takes a while to startup when you switch on. Occasionally things just seem to go at a crawl.

Hah, Lets try one of those amazing fix it programs advertised. Shell out bucks and she’ll be OK. Humm…. Things seem to be a little bit better. What about that program that says you have a register problem. That will fix it.

Well believe it or not they may fix a lot of problems but they may not be the one you have got. They most probably not be what a lot of people have got. I will tell you something about new PC’s and laptops. They have something in them that is mechanical. Yes a hard drive. They are these days a sophisticated item but they are still mechanical.

My first PC was made by Wang. My first laptop was made by Wang. (I have still got it. Probably a collectors item now). Some people may remember Wang. They were one of the original Word processing systems companies. Way before MS Word and they were good. (At the time) Well, they produced a PC. It had a 10 megabyte disk drive and I thought that was BIG. Yes it was mechanical and yes today’s disks are still mechanical.

Now we consider gigabyte disk drives small. Eventually disk drives will disappear as static (means it does move anything but bits) ram (for the un-initiated “random access memory”) becomes so cheap that this will do away with them. In the meantime you have your mechanical disk drive. Well to get these “bits”, in which a number of them make up your file, a mechanical head has to move over a recorded surface. Occasionally it may pick a bit up wrong. That’s, OK. the manufacturers knew this would happen so put in things called “checksums” that can up to a certain amount actually figure out what was missing and replace it. Good, that’s fine.What about those it cant? Well hard luck you have a corrupted file! The only way to fix that is to restore it from somewhere. But that is another subject. The main thing is that if this is some sort of system file it may cause some problems and slow down your PC until it either sorts itself out or gives up. (WOW a system crash) That makes a system really slow (like stopped).

Back to your slow system.

Let me explain the manufacture of hard disks. One thing the manufacturers know is that the disks they manufacture will have defects on the surfaces of them. They produce millions of them. Do they chuck away the ones with defects? No! Each one goes through a test. As they are tested and a defective part of the disk is found they use a bit of smarts and make that bit of disk unavailable. If the number of defective parts go over a certain number then they reject the disk. It may be that you have a labeled 80gbyte disk. But in actual fact you may have only a 79.9999 gigabyte disk. What the heck, whats a few bits between friends.

Unfortunately, sorry I had to say that word. Parts of the disk surface may become defective afterwards. You may not know it until months (or even a year) after you have bought your state of the art PC or laptop.


Well when you first got your PC you may only have used 6 or 7 gigabytes of your 80 gigabyte disk. Over the months or year you put on all your good stuff, (photos, games and such) Your disk gradually uses 30 gigabytes. (Got lots of photos you know) Then bingo one photo is written across a defective part.

How did it become defective? Well several reasons may have been just on the edge when initial testing was done, A power spike or something or just plain orneriness. ( not a Yankee doodle, hope that’s how you spell it)

One thing about windows its goes checking all the time around the used portion of the disk. It hits the defective part and hey hold on have a look at this again, and again, and again as it tries to recover the file. Eventually if it can’t it times out. Wow your system springs back to life again. Now if this happens to a system file it may take longer. Your system may not crash but it will take longer checking it out.

This can manifest (yes I know some posh words) in a slow startup when you first switch on. This is because windows does a lot of checking at this time. Unfortunately windows keeps a lot of this stuff to itself.

That’s what these purveyors of good stuff to fix everything up for you depend on.

Now I have got all the crap out of the way I had better tell you what you should do first before forking anything out. (money that is)

This is pertaining to windows xp but most of it is also relevant to other windows OS’s

The first thing is checking that damn disk for bad spots and corrupted files.

Perform the following:

  • On your start menu (bottom left corner) place your mouse pointer and click the right mouse button.
  • Place your mouse pointer on “explore” and click the right mouse button.
  • You should now have a screen showing your file structure.
  • Place your mouse over the part that probable says “Local Disk (C:) (Whatever it is called it should have the (C:)
  • Left click and it should highlight. Right click the mouse while it is selected.
  • You should get another menu. Right at the bottom you will see “properties“. Left click it.
  • You should get a box that shows a pretty circle with blue and pink segments in it. (If you have more pink than blue then you are in a good state space wise on your disk. If you have only a small sliver of pink then you are in some other trouble. Send me a comment if you want)
  • At the top of the box there is a menu. Click “Tools” with your left mouse button.
  • You should come up with another box. In it there should be a selection “Check Now”. Left click it.
  • In the box that appears tick both of the check diskoptions with your left mouse buttons and then click start
  • You should then come up with a message with a load of waffle. Just clickyes
  • Your system will now restart (if not restart it yourself) and start doing good things. You can watch if you want. You may or may not see some errors coming up. It may say restoring, it may say deleting things but just let it ramble on.
  • What it will do is make unavailable bad parts, it may be able to restore some parts from a special segment of disk.

Eventually it will restart. This may take a while depending on the size of the disk so it is best to schedule it when you do not want to use it.

Now if you go to my Windows Site you will find other things you can do to fix and check things out before you spend any money.

About Author

Wilf Gerrard-Staton is a grumpy old windows user. He started his windows blog to help people overcome simple problems with windows. His windows blog can be found at link.


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