Archive for the ‘Windows XP’ Category

A different “Slow Performance” issue

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Yesterday I had a user that was experiencing degraded system performance. I started out by looking at the Temp files, running a a disk defrag and then I made the mistake of running a chkdsk. The chkdsk was run outside of the windows environment and started out fine, until it hit step 4!

Step 4 took the remainder of the day to scan, luckily this client was using a spare computer set up for them in the meantime. Today I started the machine up and it took a good 3 minutes to get past the Windows XP splash screen. I finally wised up and looked at the event log.

The system event log was full of ATAPI and Disk errors (Event ID 7, 9, 11 and 51). After checking out Microsoft knowledge base for suggestions, I determined that  the safest step to take first would be to uninstall the disk controllersthrough device manager. Once I did this, I restarted the PC and everything worked beautifully after that.

I suppose the moral of this story is to check the Event logs first.

Optimizing your system’s Registry

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Think of the Registry as a database that Windows refers to for just about everything. The Registry is constantly growing to keep up to date all your preferences, software installations and more. As with any database, the larger it is, the longer it takes to query the database. So, the conclusion here is that a registry filled with old information that is no longer relevant, decreases the performance of your computer.

So, how do we purge the Registry of outdated records? Well, you could go in manually using regedit or regedt32 from the run command. I have a feeling that most people won’t know what to look for once inside the Registry Editor though. Even the experienced user wouldn’t spend countless hours going through entries to clean up junk. So, we use Registry Cleaner Programs. These programs automate the cleanup process and can search through the records far faster than a human can.

The one downside to a Registry cleaner is that on rare occasions you may get something deleted in the registry that should not have been deleted.  I recommend you perform a system back up or create a backup of your registry before using a Registry cleaner. Just in case.

So, as with many of the programs I run on my computers, I don’t often buy software when there are so many open source programs or free programs that are in most cases just as good if not better.  So, I have a few links to Registry Cleaners that you can try.

I have used Easy Cleaner and have not yet had any complaints.  Another Registry Cleaner I used is which I find to run just as well for me as Easy Cleaner honestly.

One item that is not often discussed about the Registry is Defragmenting the Registry.  It only stands to reason that file defragmentation improves performance on your computer, so Registry Defragmentation should help as well.  The following link is a free program that defrags the registry and gives a brief description on how the program works. This is program combined with one of the Registry cleaners are run once a week on my own computers. So far, I have no complaints about the speed of my computers.

Keep an eye out for future articles on performance optimization.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Blank Device Manager

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I had a client yesterday that was trying to install SP3 but was unsuccessful. So, I spent some time on it. I had run UBCD4Win to check for malware but nothing was found. I had forced Windows XP to boot into a  clean boot mode. Which gave me a the same access denied error as running the SP3 update. In the end, the problem ended up being Webroot Spy Sweeper. I uninstalled it and the Update worked perfectly.

Here is where things got interesting… Apparently the client said that they could not connect online, so after some quick over the phone help I told them to go into device manager and….It was blank!  I found a great list of common fixes for this issue at I talked the user through most of these but once I hit the Apropos Rootkit solution on the list I told the user to bring the computer back…. They live 2 houses down, so it’s not too much of an inconveinance for free IT work.

I ran the aproposfix tool in safe mode and removed some more entries in the registry associated with contextplus but that was of no help. Upon searching for the fix online, I ran across this arcticle on MS knowledgbase. After running fixccs.exe in safemode everything worked fine.

The MS article suggests the following “This problem may occur when an antivirus application is running during the installation of Windows XP SP3.” Well, this user didn’t have an AV client installed (I told them to try Avira Antivir, my personal favorite.) My theroy about this is that the Rootkit may have interferred during the SP3 update.

Hopefully this post will be useful to anyone else running into a simialr issue.