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I have a Dell Dimension E521 machine running Vista Home Premium.

It will be 3 years old in March and a couple months ago, everything started running very slow.

I couldn't multi task because it was too slow. Pages seemed to hang and I'd get a message saying what ever I had tried to open wasn't responding.

Sometimes it would finally open and other times I'd start the task manger to close out the program.

It reminded me of those dial up days when you could fold a load of laundry while you waited for a page to open.


I decided to restore the computer back to factory settings, thinking this would help but it still ran slow. In fact, it took close to 1/2 hour just to reboot after I'd try updating drivers.

I thought perhaps the restore went wrong since that too took over 2 hours to do and I had restored it once before and didn't think it took that long.

After the second restore, I decided to update software and drivers one at a time to see if I could figure out what was slowing it down. It actually seemed to run faster until I updated the onboard sound driver. That's when it took 1/2 hour to reboot.


I finally called uncle and brought it to a repair shop. They tried reloading everything manually and decided my hard drive was failing.

I tried to get some help from the Dell forums and they suggested I run a WD diagnostic test to get a second opinion on the hard drive.

Before I did this, I found some documentation with my computer saying I needed to be sure I had the up to date sata drivers installed and it didn't look as if I did so I installed them.

After doing this, it seemed as if the computer was running normal again but since I was missing a lot of the utilities that came with my computer, I decided to restore it back to the factory settings and immediately update that sata driver.

Well this time it didn't seem to run as quickly, plus I couldn't update the video card driver so hardly any screen savers would work because they said my card didn't have 3d.

I did manage to fix that problem but the computer was still running slow so I decided to run the WD diagnostic test.

This actually reported that the hard drive was fine.


So now I'm back to wondering why things aren't running that quick.


I ran the pitstop test and hope someone can help me. It doesn't look as if I got very good scores.


Here's a few more facts about my machine:

Nvidia geforce 7300le video card

4gbs of ram although it's not showing the full 4gbs

WD2500js hard drive. 72rpm- 250gbs


And here's the link to my results page.




Hope I did this right.

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Run the updates and re- post a new test



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Sheryl, download CCleaner and delete/clean ALL temporary files:



Defrag after cleaning the temporary files:

Download Auslogics Disk Defrag



McAfee is probably slowing down your computer. If you haven't paid for a subscription, then uninstall it

http://service.mcafee.com/FAQDocument.aspx?id=TS100507 (use the removal tool, too)


Download free Microsoft Security Essentials:



Next, your Java is way out dated and quite vulnerable to a malware attack. Here's how to update it:

  • Download the latest version of Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6.
  • Scroll down to where it says "Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6u18 allows end-users to run Java applications".
  • Click the "Download" button to the right.
  • Check the box that says: "Accept License Agreement".
  • The page will refresh.
  • Click on the link to download Windows Offline Installation with or without Multi-language and save to your desktop.
  • Close any programs you may have running - especially your web browser.
  • Go to Start > Control Panel double-click on Add/Remove programs and remove all older versions of Java.
  • Check any item with Java Runtime Environment (JRE or J2SE) in the name.
  • Click the Remove or Change/Remove button.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to remove each Java versions.
  • Reboot your computer once all Java components are removed.
  • Then from your desktop double-click on jre-6u18-windows-i586-p.exe to install the newest version.

After you have done all of the above, let us know how your computer is running. It looks like you have a couple of drivers to update and Windows SP 1 or SP2 to download.

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I'm about to get started on this right now but about SP1 and Sp2, I thought I couldn't update to either of those unless they show up under Windows update and neither one has shown up yet.

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I did everything except update the modem driver and ethernet card. I'm not really sure why it's saying I don't have up to date drivers since I updated them just the other day.

In any event, I don't really use a modem and right now I'm not using the ethernet card so I'll forget about those updates for the time being.

I didn't install sp1 since as I mentioned in the previous post, it's not showing up in windows update.

Can I still update it?


After doing all this and installing the new java application, the computer came to almost a stand still. It wouldn't do anything including let me restart it.

I finally got it restarted but it took about 1/2 hour.


I ran the pc pitstop test again and here's a link to my latest results.



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Download Secunia's "Personal Software Inspector"


Run a scan and update the software thats outdated (Adobe Reader for one)

This program will want to run at start up, so go to 'run' type msconfig, press ok. Click on Start up tab. Uncheck the box next to it and any other program that doesn't need to run when you first start your computer. Press apply/ok. Restart your computer.


If you haven't scanned with Malwarebytes' Anti-Spyware, then do so:

download Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware to your desktop



* Double-click mbam-setup.exe and follow the prompts to install the program.

* At the end, be sure a checkmark is placed next to Update Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, then click Finish.

* If an update is found, it will download and install the latest version.

* Once the program has loaded, select Perform full scan, then click Scan.

* When the scan is complete, click OK, then Show Results to view the results.

* Be sure that everything is checked, and click Remove Selected.

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Before I do all this, do you think it's just possible my hard drive is failing and nothing I do will end up helping?

The reason I ask is because the computer was running fine up until the middle of January. Or at least it seemed fine and I hadn't done any type of maintenance to it other then trying to keep my software and drivers up to date, windows updates, up to date, and keep my virus protection working.

I was using Kaspersky and not the trial McAfee that came with the computer.

I was frequently using software from Pinnacle called Studio 11 where I'd import a personal DVD video to my computer and then grab still images from it. The personal video was about an hour long and use to take about 10 minutes to import to my program. Then one day I realized it was taking much longer. In fact, it would take around 45 minutes and while it was importing, I couldn't really do much of anything because it just slowed everything down.

This was my first clue that something didn't seem right so I restored the computer back to factory settings thinking it would help.

As you can see, it hasn't and right now I barely have anything on the computer because I'm trying to figure out why it's so slow before I load my software.

Plus the fact, it's really painful trying to do much of anything with it since every task takes for ever to complete.


Do any of these tests or changes I've made so far indicate my hard drive is not working right?

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I couldn't run the chkdsk using the run command but I was able to scan the computer using the windows utilities and it came back saying I didn't have any errors.

Before doing this, I decided to wipe out the computer again and reinstall the operating system manually so I wouldn't have all the extras loaded from the Dell restore partition. It took over 4 hours to reload everything.

I then updated my chipset, "tried" to update the video driver, and installed drivers for my wireless connection.

After running the chkdsk, I updated the Dell utilities, broadband, and my sound card drivers.I also installed the microsoft security essentials software.

Then I ran the pcpitstop test and came back with even a worse score, even though the computer seems like it's running a little faster.

Here's a link to that test.


I haven't tried to do any windows updates or any of the other suggestions you gave me before I reinstalled everything because at this point, I'm not sure it's going to help.


I'm kind of thinking I may just buy a new hard drive but I have one other thought on why the computer could be running slow.

If my power supply was failing, could that make the computer run slow?

The reason I'm wondering is last night after trying to update the video card and at that point not being successful and going back to not being able to use 3d screen savers, I finally turned the computer off and thought I'd start again today.

After booting up the machine this morning and running that chkdsk, the 3d screen savers worked again. I was wondering if the computer was over worked last night because maybe the power supply wasn't working properly or can a hard drive over heat and then not work properly?


It doesn't seem likely that the slowness could be from files on the computer since it's basically empty and still running slow.

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I couldn't run the chkdsk

When you have a second partition with the call name: Repair partition, than you can boot up your pc. from the Repair partition:

Example: Your first partition is the O.s. the second partition is Repair, you start up your pc. you will see the first partition and the second partition, select the Repair partition and hit the enter key.

Now start the computer up from the Repair partition, you must make a choice: Option 1 fat32 and option 2 Windows ntfs ,choose option 2 Windows and hit the enter key.

You get a message of enter the password, have you don't a password, hit enter key.

You will see after the enter, C:\> than you enter chkdsk /p and enter again.

Chkdsk search now your harddisk for bad volumes.

After this you got possible the message chkdsk has find errors one or more

Enter chkdsk /r and hit the enter key.

The bad volume will now repair through chkdsk /r .




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Now I'm wondering if some of my memory is bad.

I took out the 2gbs I added after buying the computer and tried to boot up the computer but it took for ever so I then tried to shut it down which also took a long time.

I switched the memory that came with my computer to the 2 gbs I had just removed and it still took a little while to boot up but seemed better then when I used the original ram.

I then decided to take the pcpitstop test again and it actually came out a little better using only 2gbs of ram instead of 4gbs so maybe this is where my problem lies???

I also went into my bios to see if cache was enabled and I don't think it is.

There's a line that says "Processor L2 cache=1mb. I don't know what that means but it's a read only line and says I can't make any changes to that field.


I don't know what would happen if I tried to update the bios, in fact, I don't even know how to do that.

I've made small changes in my bios like change the boot sequence, but I've never tried to update my bios.

What exactly happens when you do that?


Almost forgot to give you my last test results page:


Edited by sheryl66

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There's a line that says "Processor L2 cache=1mb.

Every processor has 2 cache memories; the first is the l1=16 kb and the second cache; l2 is for a pentium processor 1024 kb. =1 mb.

When you turn the pc. off, then the files what is there in the ram, it will been write in the harddisk cache and the files what Windows cannot entering in the harddisk cache, this will been in the l2 cache of the processor.

When you turn the pc on and you are in Windows, the data of the remnant files in the l2 cache will be use for working with Windows, the processor got via his l2 cache part the data from the harddisk cache.

I hope that you understand me what I do mean with my explain, it is a technical explain and it is difficult for me explain this.

Bad memory: There are 2 situations: 1. The ramcard is broken or 2. the ramcard was not good installed in the slide.

You have a memory problem after buy the computer, so I think that the ramcard is history.

I suppose that you have a warranty on the ramcard, I find it smart when you go back with that to the shop.




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I'm not quite sure what all that means but I'm assuming what's showing up is right so I don't have to worry about it.

And I can't say for sure the ram that came with the computer is bad but it seemed as if it wasn't working as well as the ram I bought after buying the computer.

I decided to try doing the windows update after playing with the ram and I'm still waiting for all 72 updates to install.

I think I started this around 12:30 which is 3 and 1/2 hours ago and I've installed just over 50% of the updates.

Maybe they'll all install before I go to bed tonight.

I'm doing this with only 2gbs of ram installed but this would have gone much quicker if I went back to the first day using the computer.

Something has definitely slowed it down since I bought it.

I'm still going back to possibly having a failing hard drive.

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I'm not really sure there's anything wrong with the windows install.

My updates finally installed after 4 or 5 hours and then I decided to run the pcpitstop test again but I didn't save the link.

It said the computer was at 35%.

I just put the 2 sticks of ram that I thought might be bad back in and ran the test again. Now it says it's 31% which is lower then when I had the 4gbs of ram installed but higher then the test before I moved the ram around.

I can't seem to figure this out or know what I should try and replace.

Oh and I'm back to not being able to update the video card driver.


Here's the link to the last performance test.


Edited by sheryl66

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Let's try a couple of other things. first CA and McAfee are both resource hogs. You will need to go into services by typing services in the start search box. Click on the little gear icon. When the window opens, set all McAfee and CA services to disabled...then,

uninstall both, and download MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials). Update it and run a full scan!



I'd also like you to download, update and scan with Malwarebytes' Anti-Spyware, per my instructions above.


If nothing is found with either of those scans, we could possibly rule out malicious activity.

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I decided to buy a new hard drive today and knock on wood, I think that's all I needed to do from the get go.

Windows was up and running on the new hard drive in less then 15 minutes where as it took over 4 hours with my original hard drive.

I'm in the process of installing updates and so far so good.

Things are actually installing and then letting me reboot and get back to installing in less then a minute.

This is a hugh improvement.

I think I may run the pcpitstop test once I have everything loaded and see how I compare to other computers.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions.

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Ha, ha, ha. Sorry. I didn't know I was going shopping when I posted my post Friday night.

I started working on the computer again Saturday morning and thought I'd try and install 4 more Windows updates while I ran some errands and 2 hours later, when I saw it had installed only 4% of the updates, I told my husband I was giving up.

He told me to go buy a new hard drive so off I went.

I haven't run a pcpitstop test on the new hard drive yet but everything seems to be working quickly and fine.

I don't really have any complaints except for trying to figure out how I can get all 4gbs of ram to show up on my system information page.

I know one of Windows updates is suppose to fix that but I'm going to see if I can install sp1 before I try the fix since it never worked when I installed it on the old hard drive.

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