Speeding up a sluggish PC

My computer has been slowing down over the last couple of weeks. Now, I can browse the net but after a period of time the 'cannot find server' page is displayed, and i can no longer browse. This goes the same for Outtlook and any other program that accesses the 'Net. The only fix at this stage is to reboot, and everything runs fine for a while again. Also, Add/Remove programs is now only accessible in safe mode. ANY assistance would be greatly appreciated. I am running XP Pro with SP2, P4 CPU 2.40Ghz and 768MB RAM.

My computer has been slowing down over the last couple of weeks. Now, I can browse the net but after a period of time the 'cannot find server' page is displayed, and i can no longer browse. This goes the same for Outtlook and any other program that accesses the 'Net. The only fix at this stage is to reboot, and everything runs fine for a while again. Also, Add/Remove programs is now only accessible in safe mode. ANY assistance would be greatly appreciated. I am running XP Pro with SP2, P4 CPU 2.40Ghz and 768MB RAM.

-- Brett

It is possible that you may be fighting more than one problem at the same time, so let's go through some steps that might help:

I would suggest bumping up the memory to at least 1 gigabyte at a bare minimum, 2 gigabytes of memory if the motherboard and your finances allow for it. I have seen more performance problems since the release of SP2 than I would have expected. Next, check to see if you have any extra running processes that can't be accounted for. Sometimes when you uninstall an application that is dependent on certain services running, they don't always get cleaned up. Check to see if you have more than one anti-virus package installed. Sometimes, OEM-delivered machines will have one anti-virus installed that may not be noticed at first glance and some application packages try to "help" you out by installing another system without asking you first.

I would then start with doing a triage approach to checking for spyware/adware. There are several very good packages available for use. The thing is that no one package I have found can consistently detect all the known spyware/addware that is known at a given point in time. I normally use Spybot, AdWare and a third package which changes periodically on what package I am currently looking at or have had the best results with lately.

The next step is to try some of the rootkit detector packages that are available for evaluation or purchase. Some of the more popular spyware detection program have this type of functionality but especially in this area, having a program that does nothing but this type of detection helps give you another set of eyes to make sure that something isnt slithering under a rock and hiding without your knowing about it.

If, after all this, you continue to have network-card issues but the overall speed of the computer has improved, try installing a second network card and disable the first to see if the loss in network connectivity stops. If you aren't comfortable with opening up the computer to install another network card or you don't have a spare slot to temporarily use for this purpose, you can try some of the USB type network adapters to at least see if you have a physical network-card or driver-related issue.

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