Sluggish PC Performance After OS Reinstall

by on July 25, 2007

Q: Howdy, I have just had to re-format my hard drive and re-installed Windows XP Pro (SP1). After I re-installed all the drivers for my software and hardware everything worked fine, but when I started updating Windows it causes my computer to run very slow and use up all my processor. Could it be a driver or file conflict causing this? Or is it something else?

A: There could be a number of reasons why your system is running slowly after you re-installed everything. Installing improper or old drivers can cause a system to act sluggish, and having too many unnecessary applications running in the background can have the same effect. Running software without all of its updates (namely the Operating System) may also cause performance issues. You need to address each of these issues to make sure that your system is safe and optimized.

  1. Run Windows Update and install all of the latest service packs and critical updates to your OS. Windows XP Service Pack 2 has been out for some time now, so you need to catch up with the security updates.
  2. Install all of the available updates for the applications you have on your system. Make sure that you install updates to any software you use because the updates may address memory leaks, security issues, or other problems, which can slow your system down.
  3. Find the newest drivers for all of your PC components and peripherals and install them. Generic drivers, improper drivers, and old drivers can cause a system to behave in odd ways. Installing the newest drivers can stabilize a troubled system or even boost performance.
  4. Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del > Task Manager) and click on the Processes tab. If you click on the CPU column, you will be able to see which processes are using most of your CPU. If these processes do not need to run, terminate them.
  5. Check your system’s Startup folder to see if there are unnecessary applications starting up with your OS. Remove them from the Startup folder and they will not load on boot.
  6. Run Msconfig (Start > Run > Type msconfig and click OK) and click on the Startup tab to see what applications are running when your PC boots up. Un-check the applications that do not need to start on boot. If you are unsure of whether or not an application needs to start automatically, you can Google the name of the application to find out the details. Make sure not to disable the startup of any Security, Anti-Virus, or Anti-Spyware applications so that your PC remains protected.
  7. Uninstall any applications that you do not use. Many commercially purchased PCs come with a lot of Bloatware and Trialware as part of the OS install. Remove these applications to create more hard drive space and further reduce the amount of applications trying to start when you boot up your PC.
  8. Defragment your hard drive (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter) so that the OS will take less time to seek out data on your hard drive.
  9. Run Disk Cleanup (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup) to remove any unnecessary files from your PC.

Once you have performed those steps you should see a difference in system performance. If you continue to have problems, make sure to update your Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware applications. Scan your system thoroughly and remove any spyware and viruses that are found. If you can trace your problems back to a single peripheral, contact the manufacturer or search their web site for additional assistance with your performance issues.

One Response to “Sluggish PC Performance After OS Reinstall”

    I had the problem of the system slowing to a crawl when updates were downloaded last time. I checked every single possibility,and finally found that it the HDD was fragmented and also running very low on free space! Its such a mess when we keep adding things and never delete them, plus the whole drive is a chaos, its almost as if when a program is run, its too tired to respond.