Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Wife is not happy. It takes about 5 seconds to open a google window, versus about 1 second on the faster computer which is about 3 years old itself.

Yes, it is an older computer (5 -6 years old, I'd guess), surely with less RAM, but for simple browsing, should it matter? Both are hardwired to the same Netgear Rangemax router. Both use fixed IP addresses. Both are XP. Both have about 8 feet of cable to the router. I have the fastest service my cable provides.

Probably irrelevant but ...two newer MACs are connected wirelessely during the summer and they are even faster, but I think that's the difference in browsers.

If you could point me to a list of process of elimination steps that would be most appreciated.

Thanks Dean

share|improve this question
What do you mean by "google window"? – vtest Aug 10 '10 at 8:54

Yes, a slower computer will often browse the Internet noticeably slower than a faster computer, especially if you're talking about older computers. Part of the reason is because websites are more CPU-intensive now than they used to be, with lots of JavaScript, CSS, not to mention Flash and other applets.

It's also possible that other things are bogging down the older computer, such as crapware, malware, disk fragmentation, low disk space, etc. You might be able to speed it up by uninstalling all software that's not absolutely necessary (including browser plugins and toolbars), then running a thorough scan with MalwareBytes' AntiMalware and defragmenting the hard drive.

You might also want to review the antivirus software you're running on both computers. McAfee antivirus is notorious for slowing down PCs, and many other antivirus programs drag down performance with their on-access scanning. A recent benchmark rated Microsoft Security Essentials #1 in terms of detection and low resource usage. I've also noticed that Avast! antivirus doesn't bog down the system as much as other antivirus apps I've tried.

Doing a clean reinstall would also probably help, but first I'd recommend booting both computers from an Ubuntu Linux LiveCD and seeing how they differ in performance when they're both baselined. This should give you a better idea of whether a reinstall will bring the slower computer closer to the faster one in terms of performance, or if the performance improvement is likely to be negligible. Since this is just a quick experiment and these are both older computers, you might want to try an older distribution of Ubuntu first, because the newer ones are a lot more resource-intensive.

share|improve this answer
PC has 1 GB RAM, has a P4 CPU at 2.4 Ghz and 20 GB free.Enough for fast browsing? Regarding 2nd paragraph, does order matter? I was defraging as you spoke. Ran Adaware, found nothing but will run tougher AntiMalware next. For most proggies, isn't it enough to simply stop them from starting up? Used infrequently, but I'd rather not uninstall them if I can help it. I'd also rather not do a clean reinstall unless we have some proof. Can I try Ubuntu without unsintalling windows? If so, can you tell me which older version I should try? Kindly answer each question. Thanks much! Dean – deanalt Apr 16 '10 at 0:37
Your PC should be more than adequate for web browsing. Ideally, you would run the defrag after uninstalling any programs, because there will be fewer files and more free space to work with, and you'll be able to make the free space more contiguous. Most apps can be left installed, but some run background services even when the app isn't running in your taskbar or system tray. I'd still recommend uninstalling all browser plugins and toolbars unless you use them all the time. – rob Apr 16 '10 at 0:55
(cont'd) Yes, the Ubuntu Live CD allows you to boot Linux without touching your Windows installation. When you boot, just pick the first option, "Try Ubuntu without installing"--it's pretty slick! I'd start with Ubuntu 8.04 for your PC, but you might be able to handle the newer releases just fine. The "version" number stands for Y.MM ("year-2000"."month"). – rob Apr 16 '10 at 1:02
Also be sure to review your antivirus software (I've updated my answer with more info on this). – rob Apr 16 '10 at 1:10
The antimalwarebytes came out clean. I use Avast free. I'm not sure how to uninstall browser plug-ins can you help me? I dpn't think we have much in toolbars and we do get active X queries so I assume we are blocking most things. But I am a bit ignorant of the details of such things. I will try Ubuntu tomorrow AM. Does that possibly tell you where the problem is, I assume? Thanks Dean – deanalt Apr 16 '10 at 2:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.