Slow Starting Computer

Dear Computer Lady,

Thanks so  much for the service you offer via your newsletter.

I’m not entirely a novice at the computer, but neither am I a whiz. Yet there are some things that just have me stumped. This particular issue is really getting to me. I have Windows XP, and when I turn on my computer it takes 4 minutes to load everything before I can actually begin to do anything! I think I know why that’s happening, but I don’t know HOW to fix it.  I just need to find out where to go to “click off” the programs that are loading when my computer boots up. If you could help I’d be eternally grateful! Thanks so much!

Martie R.


Dear Martie,

Your computer could be slowing down because there are too many programs loading when you turn it on, but there could also be other reasons why it takes 4 minutes to load. I will give you directions for clicking off the programs you don’t want to start, but before I do that, lets consider some other reasons why your computer might be slowing down.

1. Your computer might be slowing down because of something called “software rot”. Since you have Windows XP, it could very well be 5 to 10 years since Windows was installed, and over time, small bits of data can become corrupt as they are read from the hard drive, and then written back to the hard drive. If software rot is causing your problem, and everything else is fine, doing a clean install of Windows will fix your problem.

2. Your hard drive is too full: A full hard drive that does not leave room for Windows to work, will cause the computer to be extremely slow. It is easy to check and see if this is the problem. Click on “start” then on “My Computer”. Right click on your hard drive and click on “Properties”. You will see a pie chart showing you how much of your hard drive is full. If it is more than 7/8 full, this could be the source of your problem.

3. Your hard drive could be failing: One of the classic signs of impending hard drive failure is a drastic slow down of the entire system. Make sure that you have your files backed up!

4. Not enough RAM to support newer programs: Often people notice that their computer has slowed down right after upgrading to the newest version of Internet Explorer installed Windows updates, or some other program. You can usually upgrade your RAM, they are small sticks that are fairly easy to install.


5. Too many programs loading when your computer starts: This is the problem that you were talking about in your question. Here is how to fix it.

a. Click on “Start”, then click on “Run”.

b. In the run box, type, MSCONFIG and press the “enter” key on your keyboard.

c. In the System Configuration window that opens, click on the “Startup” tab.

d. Click to remove the check marks from items that you don’t want starting when your computer starts. Be sure not to turn off your antivirus program.

e. Click the “OK” button to close the dialog box and save your changes.

I hope this solves your problem.


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    • Martie
    • November 5, 2010

    Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I tried the easiest solution first (getting rid of the things I don’t want starting up when my computer does) and I was amazed at how just that helped. I couldn’t believe how many programs were checked off at start up! Thank you so much for your help!


    • alexnetherton
    • November 7, 2010

    Hi Elizabeth;
    I have had the same problem in the past, and it turned out to be malware, like some spyware program that got on my computer, and I couldn’t get off.
    I have also run into “software rot”, and XP is bad for that. I have a computer with pre-installed Vista, and it takes a long time for rot to set in on it. I used to have to reinstall XP every 3 to 6 months, but Vista goes for a year or more.

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