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I am sorry for such a non-specific title, but that will be exactly the point of my question - to ask you to specify my problem. (I'm new here so I hope I'm at the right place.)

I started my PC as usually, but it loaded unusually slowly - about 3-5 times than normal - and it stayed that slow from that time. Booting (loading my OS) is slow, using every program is slow, average videos get choppy or the video player crashes, web browser works slow or crashes.. Even opening the folder takes significantly more time.

I tried to reboot several times, but it didn't help. I use the Comodo firewall and Avira antivirus so I think I'm quite well protected, nevertheless I searched for malware and none was found. Well, all this happens from the early start of my OS so if it was a malware, it would have to be really good one..

OS: Windows XP, SP3
PC: AMD Athlon 4200+ (2,2GHz) 64X2 Dual; 2*1GB RAM (Dual channel); ATI Radeon HD 2600XT;  HDD Seagate Baracuda 7200.11 SATA 320GB.

Can it be a hardware problem? I tried to remove each of the two operating memories (in case of failure of one of them) and run the PC with only one of them, but problem persisted.

Can it be a software problem? I was thinking about to try to run the Windows Repair from my windows CD in case that there just got something weird in windows.. I don't know if it can help though.
I'd like to take the full OS reinstal of my beloved PC as the last option. :-(

I hope I gave enough information.
Thank you for any ideas.

edit: I should say that this situation already occured a couple of times some months ago, but in every case PC reboot helped, so I considered it to be just some bad OS load or sth..

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I'd suggest scanning with a tool like Microsoft Security Essentials or Malwarebytes or SpyBot to see whether there may be any malware slowing things down. Even though you already have Avira, a single tool can miss things that others will catch. Also, open Event Viewer (you can click Start => Run and type "eventvwr" and hit Enter) and look in the System and Application logs for any errors or warnings; something there might reveal a hardware or software or Windows problem that could be in part responsible for the slowness. –  Darth Continent Mar 23 '12 at 13:39
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Whoa! That "eventvwr" tool showed really much! There are about a thousand of system warnings from today, each of them the same: Microsoft Support C.. Well, that doesn's sound good.. :-/ –  Jeyekomon Mar 23 '12 at 13:56
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Aha, this could indicate that the hard drive is failing, or that you may need to allocate more space to your swap file. I'd say first of all try running a tool like ActiveSMART to see whether the hard drive may be in danger of failing, then check out the swap file info and see if tweaking it helps (this error can also come up if the swap file isn't big enough). –  Darth Continent Mar 23 '12 at 14:01
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You were right! It was failing HDD. After reading your comment I didn't waste a second and made a back-up of the most important files. After about a hour the BSOD appeared and the PC failed to boot again. It took me some time to buy the new HDD and make everything work again so that's why my reply is so late. So, thank you very much! You helped me to save quite a significant part of my work and life... And that eventvwr tool is just awesome piece of code! I wonder why is such a powerful and useful tool so unknown. Never heard about it before.. –  Jeyekomon Apr 12 '12 at 11:37
    
Once I had a problem where my system kept choking, it would freeze for like 3-20 seconds or so, then keep chugging for a while, then repeat. I figure it was the hard drive stalling, trying and retrying to read data off damaged areas of the disk surface. It turned out to be a failing drive too and I replaced it, then all was well. Glad you caught it before you lost your vital data! –  Darth Continent Apr 12 '12 at 18:15
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Del and then select Task Manager, after you login). Sort by CPU column (click on the CPU column until the higher numbers are at stop) and see if there's any processes taking up a lot of CPU.

If nothing seems to be consuming CPU, look in Event Viewer (under Control Panel -> Administrative Tools) and look in your Application and System event logs. If you see a lot of "disk" errors your hard drive might be failing and that could be the cause.

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I forgot to accept an answer for this question. Your answer has mentioned the Event Viewer, a surprisingly awesome tool due to which I managed to backup most of my vital data... So here you go. –  Jeyekomon Oct 13 '13 at 22:46
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If you have setup any System restore point, try restoring your system to an earlier time.

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I was thinking about this, but may I ask - what exactly this system restoring changes? Does it remove my Desktop files that were placed there after the restore point? Does it remove my web browser favorites from after the restore point? If you could provide some information about what data will be lost when applying the restore point and "going back", I would be grateful. It gives me the information about what to back-up. –  Jeyekomon Mar 23 '12 at 13:19
    
"System Restore does not affect personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos, so it cannot help you restore a deleted file. If you have backups of your files, you can restore the files from a backup." - Microsoft's FAQ on System Restore (this one is specific to Vista but also applies to XP) –  Darth Continent Mar 23 '12 at 13:36
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Get the make of the hard drive then go to the manafactors website and get the dianostic tool maybe the harddrive has got some bad sectors

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