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Do multiple instances of apps on one machine slow performance?

I am experiencing very slow performance on my Toshiba 4300 laptop running Win2K. I reviewed the Task Manager and found four instances of svchost.exe running concurrently, using from 5-15 MB of RAM. Also msiexec.exe had three instances running using up to 15 MB of RAM. Should there be multiple instances of these apps, or does this indicate some problem with my machine/OS?
Both of those are system processes, which are used to govern OS-level services; they're generally not a problem by default, and you do usually see several instances of them running. That said, I would check what you have installed on that system and see whether or not the system is really cut out to handle it. I have personally traced a lot of problems lately to recent versions of Symantec/Norton utilities packages, including their antivirus programs – it's getting to the point where their software seems to cause more problems than it solves. Also, if you have not defragmented the computer in some time, there may be a performance hit coming from that as well.

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