Windows deteriorates over time — i.e., it doesn’t maintain itself very well. This can lead to Windows becoming slow as molasses.
I recently had to try to speed up a computer running Windows XP SP3. The computer had been running Windows XP since 2006, without a reinstall in the interim. It had gotten dreadfully slow, to the point where it took 5-7 minutes for it just to boot to the point where it was moderately usable.
I actually succeeded in bringing the computer back to its original speed, without reinstalling Windows XP. Below are my findings, for anyone who might be in a similar situation.
First, I am going to refer below to a “registry cleaner”. A registry cleaner is a program which cleans up the Windows Registry Database. The one I used is callled “CCleaner“, and is free as in freeware (no cost). I highly recommend this tool. The authors ask for a donation in case you are satisfied, but this is not required as of this writing. Just be aware that the installer will also install a Yahoo! Toolbar in your web browser, unless you opt out of this during the install process.
Here is what I did:
- Defragment the harddrive.
- Remove icons from the desktop. Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but it worked for me, some of the way to full speed!
- Download and install CCleaner Registry Cleaner.
- Run CCleaner, and clean both the harddrive, the system, and the registry. The registry might need to be cleaned several times before all defects have been cleaned. Just keep cleaning until the scan says there are zero defects.
- Deinstall all unnecessary and/or outdated software.
- Run CCleaner, cleaning both the harddrive, the system, and the registry.
- Reinstall the latest versions of the software you actually need (e.g., FireFox, OpenOffice.org, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, etc.)
- Run CCleaner again.
Once I had gone through this process, the computer ran almost as fast as it did when Windows was first installed.