Gail is frustrated and I cant blame her. Shes like 90% of the consumers world wide with Gacked OEM comps. Fed up with it. The only response that was right on was from rae2_2, whoever that was. Yeah you can teach yourself a trick or two over the years, but in Gails case, partial fixes especially out of sequence and at the hands of a non-techie wont cut it. I know for fact, theres no magic bullet or simple fix covering the bases to smooth a never used OEM machine let alone a used one. The formula for straightening out a consumer comp and the post servicing that should follow is evidently known by rae2_2, hence the advise given.
Gail! You need to know a few things a good tech will do that you simply cannot. A good techs first words are, What data is currently on your system you do not wish to loose that you dont have backed up, and if backed up, let me examine it. If you have a backup, the tech will choose from a variety of methods to confirm your backups, scan for viruses, and check data retrieve ability. If theres a problem, the tech might attempt a fix or try for a new backup. If you dont have backups, a good backup of your data becomes primary via a host of tricks to get it, and must be made available regardless if the machine is fixed or replaced. Most likely the original hard drive(s) is placed in another machine designed not only to get the backup, but scan for and silence viruses, and scan the drive for disk errors, and in many cases, get a clone of the entire system. If the drive is having problems, this opens a new can of worms with a change of procedures (another novel).
Backups and scans take much time, during which, the computers remaining hardware must be examined before your computer gets its first tech-boot. A good tech knows that dust and abnormalities resulting from age, use, and environmental contaminants is the #1 killer of a comp and its data, responsible for serious speed problems and hard drive damage, all due to thermal and/or connection issues. Additional hardware and data damage from abnormal power fluctuations or power drops to the computer, or the power supply itself must also be checked. Theres no use booting the computer until these checks are done, let alone working with the programming. Sometimes a dust clean out will do, but most times, its necessary to completely disassemble the computer's main hardware, applying fixes in a variety of processes to confirm that no thermal, defective parts, or obvious connection issues are causing or could cause data degradation while the machine is running. If this is happening, any fixes or changes applied to the Operating System and programs are useless. The tech must be confident of the hardware before next steps. Im 60 years old. Been into lots of comps ever since they became available to the public and still at it. Seen and fixed a lot of strange stuff via National Repair Facilities and alone. Thermal, power and connection problems? Biggest issue and the first things to pay attention to, especially thermal.
(Next and Summarized) Satisfied with the backup and drive analysis, and any fixes to the hardware with possible temporary upgrades to the computer, the computer is finally booted with its drive(s) and tests begin. The normal speed traps already known to exists are ignored, later fixed, in favor of the quickest examination of post OEM installs, Operating System behavior and status, viral results, simple programs control, user(s) profile contamination, etc. The list is long. If the tech can navigate the system, it depends on whats found that determines what analysis tools are used in which order to locate and fix damage, bottlenecks, and what needs attention first. Just arbitrarily introducing fix-it programs (the shotgun principle) is never a good idea. Theres a proper method to the madness.
If the system is clean of parasites (dont have time to explain that one), the tech will dump as much trash as possible (another novel), and may be fortunate enough to get a defrag of the system (not using standard XP tools). Next is primary tweaks to speed the system enough not to bore the tech while getting rid of software baggage, checking/replacing/updating drivers, checking the Operating Systems status, running multiple tests to see if each process holds its fix or tweak, (Oh My!!), more tweaks and cleanups, registry checks and fixes, mods and hacks, tools installations to do it all. The list gets documented as the procedures continue, software upgrades or replacements, putting a control on unnecessary software net chatter, program associations with other programs, security tests and most likely security program replacements and/or additions, and it goes on and on until the final goal is reached, a backup of a clean, secure, efficient, and quiet no-nag system.
It is only at this point that the tech can safely advise of hardware upgrades to increase the computers speed, efficiency, and dependability even further.
But note: In many, many cases, even if viruses are removed and really gone, thermal issues and power problems fixed, the damage to the Operating System can be non-economically repairable requiring a total rebuild of the OS and the programs, hence, the need of the backups at the beginning. To a knowledgeable tech, this determination can be obvious within a few hours into the tests. If this is the case, the option to rebuild using the same operating system or upgrade is considered.
rae2_2 was right. For one such as yourself in your situation, find a competent tech or technical service, and get the machine fixed properly. By the way, having it fixed by Internet Magic Bullets or programs from the manufacture, or following the pieced advise given in forums? Forget it. For those who what to learn how to do this entire concept in detail with all its variants, show me the money! Specific tricks for specific problems, that's a freebee.
Gail? If you wish to know more about which way to fly, Ill do you a freebee kickoff.
Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the Model of your Dell, and the Service Number (on the rear).
Ill help you get started. I didnt see anyone offer her that!