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First, I'm not at all conversant on the subject of computers, but here it goes. HP Pavillion 500 desktop is "locking up" when I click to open/start a program or click to access a website or its links. Eventually the page will come up, but after several seconds. No threats are shown after scanning using Norton, Defender, Spybot and Malwarebytes. I've "snipped" the performance page in the task manager thinking that might show something but I can't figure out how to display it here. So I'll try posting the details, without the graphs obviously, in case it'll help. Any assistance is welcome and appreciated.

PHYSICAL MEMORY (MB): Total 4001, Cached 1108, Available 1091, Free 19.

SYSTEM: Handles 34841, Threads 1532, Processes 91, Up Time 0:11:22:24, Commit 4468/8000.

KERNEL MEMORY: Paged 421, Nonpaged 184.

Processes 91 CPU Usage 16% Physical Memory 72%

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  • Use MSCONFIG to reduce the startup items that get loaded and see if the problem remains.
    – John
    Commented May 26 at 0:44
  • Have you checked for hardware issues? A bad fan causing the CPU to go into thermal throttling, a bad SATA cable, a failing HDD/SDD - all of these can cause a computer to become very slow.
    – thkala
    Commented May 26 at 11:35
  • You could have a look at browser extensions, perhaps there are some running you aren't even aware of. Chrome: chrome://extensions, Edge: edge://extensions, Firefox: about:addons (and then click on "Extensions" on the left). Safari: don't use Safari on Windows. Opera: I don't know.
    – tevemadar
    Commented May 26 at 11:45
  • I suggest that you uninstall Norton: Download and run the Norton Remove and Reinstall tool for Windows. Commented May 26 at 16:09
  • Not sure what the etiquette is for responding to suggestions/ideas here but I'll give it a try. First, of the 20 or so startup items I had already de-selected 6 of them. The fan may be an issue/symptom/cause because it gets loud when on a page with lots of graphics. Or maybe it's the drive I'm hearing??? There are no extensions in Firefox. Haven't tried uninstalling Norton yet. Commented May 26 at 18:04

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First, the PC has only 4 GB of RAM -- that is marginal for Windows. You can run Linux in that amount, but Windows needs more.

Second, Windows needs drive space. How much free space is on the system drive? If there's less than 10 or 20 GB free on the Windows drive (usually C:), expect to have issues.

Suggestions:
  • Create 20 GB or more free space on the system drive.
  • If there is still insufficient space, get another drive.
  • Check online to see if RAM can be added, e.g., at Kingston or Crucial. Some low-end PC's have RAM soldered in place and cannot be upgraded.
  • If you cannot get Windows to run on that PC, try an operating system that is less demanding of resources, e.g., Linux. You can boot and run from a USB without even needing to install to the main drive, such with Ubuntu Live. If that OS is table, and you like it, you can install it permanently.
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  • Windows 10 will run without crashing or stopping with 4GB of memory, especially with processes limited with MSCONFIG. I certainly agree with your second point. OP did you run MSCONFIG?
    – John
    Commented May 26 at 3:12
  • OP didn't mention which operating system they're using. As far as I'm concerned, I had a computer running Windows XP with only 2 MB of RAM.
    – Clockwork
    Commented May 26 at 11:20
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    @Clockwork, I still have an Acer D250 with 2GB RAM. It had XP, but was exceedingly slow, so I switched to Ubuntu (still not a gaming machine, but usable ;-). That also freed enough space on the 160 GB drive so that it can be used to store photos on vacation... and if it's damaged in travel, depreciated value is nil. Commented May 26 at 16:43
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    First, thank you for all the wisdom. The operating system is Windows 7 Home. And I've found that there are only 1.85 GB remaining on the hard drive which I suspect is the main source of the problem. Even if I emptied the recycle bin of 345 MB and removed some small programs it wouldn't amount to more than 500 MB or so of additional space. So I suspect, as DrMoishe Pippik said, that I'll have to get another drive or more likely replace the computer with a "modern" piece of technology. :-( Thank you very much for all the input. Take it easy. Commented May 26 at 18:21
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    @user1955995 I suspect the computer is running out of RAM then the swap is creating virtual RAM on the disk, and when the disk runs out of space, the operating system basically "dies", which causes the freezing.
    – Clockwork
    Commented May 27 at 12:19

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