Paul wrote in news
I have an old Compaq Presario 5000 running XP I got as a gift. It did
not include the XP install disk.
This system is extremely slow. I DLed and printed several web sites'
suggestions to speed up XP with no results. I'm thinking about
installing Ubuntu Linux as dual-boot as I can't reinstall XP.
To determine whether the problem is the XP OS or the hardware I'd
like any suggestions on something I can run on it as a test to see if
it operates at a normal speed. If so, it's XP, if not I can abandon
the computer; it's the hardware and I have no idea how to fix it -
probably not worth the expense and time for this very old computer.
I ran an equally old copy of Spinrite to see if the HD was ok and as
I recall it took several days to cycle. I don't recall how long it
usually takes but I suspect that was VERY slow, indicating a hardware
Here's a simple place to start.
Download that, install it, then make sure the correct disk drive
you want to check is selected in the menu. Then click the
Is the graph a nice curve, like the promotional picture
on the HDTune web site ? The following is a good hard
disk drive (blue line).
The yellow dots are seek time, and a bad drive will have
"lots of dots floating way high, away from the main
body of yellow dots". A few yellow dots outside the main
pack, isn't all that bad, but lots of them is a bad sign.
There should be a two-to-one ratio between the rate seen
at the outer edge of the platter, versus the transfer
speed near the hub of the platter. The blue line in the
example screenshot, starts at 170 and ends at 85 or so.
There is such a thing as a short-stroked drive (I own one),
but they're not that common, and they have a different
ratio between outside and inside diameters.
If the graph is a flat line at 4-5MB/sec, you're stuck
in "PIO Mode". This happens when the disk is sick and
throwing errors. Windows responds by attempting to reduce
the cable transfer rate, in an attempt to reduce the
error rate. There is a procedure for correcting PIO Mode
and returning to DMA mode. If the hardware problem is
still present, the interface will end up in PIO Mode
again, within a day or two. While the correction procedure
can permanently fix a transient problem, when a drive
is sick it will soon return to the "bad setting". This
condition is the one that makes the OS slow.
Of secondary interest in HDTune, is the Health tab.
Some brands of drive, no matter how new and shiny the
drive is, the Health display shows two yellow marks. You
should ignore those yellow marks. Adherence to S.M.A.R.T
standard isn't all that good, and there is a difference
between the HDTune analysis and what the disk drive
The main entry to worry about in Health is "Reallocated Sectors".
There are plenty of interesting other ones, but that's
what I use as the simplest health indicator.
The "Benchmark" curve is *the* most sensitive test. You
can tell a lot from the curve shape. The "Health" tab
is also important, for example, if the Reallocated
indicates you're running out of spares. However,
I've had pretty sick hard drives, where the Reallocated
data column still read "zero", so Health is not my
only choice when I use HDTune. I rely on the read
benchmark as an early indicator of trouble.
The curve from the HD Tune is very jagged, far up and down close spaced
excursions, not wide smooth steps as it should be, Yellow dots very
scattered. So HD is shot. Now to decide if system is worth putting in a
new HD. No XP install disk so will only be able to run Linux, etc.
Already have Ubuntu Linux on the other Compaq machine. I suspect I'll
junk it. However, open to suggestions.
I love a good meal! That's why I don't cook.