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Computer Got Slow


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#1 sandorman

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 09:42 PM

Ok - I know people are going to jump to conclusions - but from my own experience - I would say that it has gotten slow too slowly (gradually over ~4 days, between 6 and 2 days ago, and then it leveled off) to be malware or a virus (or a newly installed program, especially since I haven't installed anything recently) and too quickly to be something like a fragmented hard drive. I think it's the CPU or the motherboard. I ran a spyware scan and I have a grand total of 4 tracking cookies after 3 weeks since the last test, big whoopie. Removing them didn't do a thing of course. I don't know what to do about that though - I have a 2.5 GHz Celeron. I happen to have a bunch of Pentium 3 Xeon processors that were in a lot of wholesale electronics I bought - by any chance can I just take out my Celeron and put in one of those? Probably not, right?

Well, I'll describe what I've been observing. I first started to notice that when I recorded a DVD, the write buffer wouldn't stay at 99% but it would start dipping, and hit 0% and the DVD burner's LED would be off and come back on a moment later - and the burning process would take a little longer, maybe 4% longer, though that doesn't hold a candle to the verification process because that would take 30% to 60% longer - taking 20-25 minutes instead of 15. I came to the most logical conclusion - the DVD burner was dying. The poor old NEC ND1300A has lived a long, long time and is third in a line of NEC ND1300As and it has outlived either of the 2 that came before it by a factor of 2 at least.

But I was wrong. I replaced it with a new NEC ND1300A drive (I only have 3 left now....) and it did the exact same thing. TOO exact, in fact. The buffer wouldn't just hit zero and the burner stop periodically, it would do it in a VERY predictible way, following the same exact timing schedule - and at 94% completion, it would actually stop for 27 seconds - and it did this with BOTH NEC ND1300A drives. At exactly 94%. The next suspect was the IDE cable. But it was not a long-lived suspect.

Because now the computer started being slow in things that were just within the computer - watching videos on the hard drive, it would get choppy and the sound would be even more noticibly choppy, stopping and starting 10 times a second - and WHILE it was doing this, it was behaving as if 100% of the CPU was being used - that is moving the mouse around, the pointer would dematerialize on one part of the screen and materialize on the other side without passing through anywhere in the middle, and if I were to try to run another program at the same time, I could forget it, it would wait for heck to freeze over (don't know if there are profanity filters in the forum & don't want to risk my entry being deleted) instead of starting the other program - whereas before this happened, playing a video on or off the hard drive wouldn't prevent me from doing several other things simultaneously.

And verifying files, accessing files on the hard drive (and I have a master hard drive and a slave hard drive, two completely different hard drives, and it does the same thing with either so it is not problems with the hard drives themselves) is what has been stretched out the longest. Verifying files via .sfv files with winsfv is a full 5000% slower, 50 times slower, than it was a week ago. It would seem that reading stuff from the hard drive is what has slowed down the most - not so noticible when recording or verifying a DVD because the rate at which the disk is written or read is already much slower than what is USUALLY the read speed of the hard drive so if the hard drive slows down it may not have an appreciable effect - but verifying files on a hard drive against a parity check is just reading from the hard drive.

I ran a hot CPU pro (from www.7byte.com) test and it checked out on everything except under 'memory' it gave the cryptic remark in red 'running' at the end of the test. I'm putting the log from that at the end of this message.

So basically, can someone tell me if it's my motherboard, processor, my RAM, not enough information from what I've given, or what? (I have 2 256-meg 133 MHz DRAM sticks in the slots for them) And if it's my processor, if I can use one of my Xeon processors as a replacement.

The Hot CPU log:

--------------------
2111545344 bytes

000023| 0000 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:37 | Operating System: Windows XP Home Service Pack 1

000024| 0156 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:37 | Setting Process Priority...

000025| 1111 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | Diagnostic has started

000026| 1112 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | Test Duration: 06:00:00

000027| 1113 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | Diagnostic Method: Sequential

000028| 1114 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | Error Handling: Ignore and Continue

000029| 1115 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | Hyper-Threading: Disabled

000030| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | -Complex Matrix : Enabled

000031| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000032| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | --Matrix Size: 3,000x3,000

000033| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | --Matrix Data Type: Double

000034| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | -Calculating Pi : Enabled

000035| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000036| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:50 | --Pi Iterations: 10,000

000037| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -Sorting Algorithms : Enabled

000038| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000039| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Insertion Sort: Enabled

000040| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Shell Sort: Enabled

000041| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Merge Sort: Enabled

000042| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Heap Sort: Enabled

000043| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Quick Sort: Enabled

000044| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --CArray Quick Sort: Enabled

000045| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Sorting Array Size: 100,000

000046| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -Prime Test : Enabled

000047| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000048| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Iterations: 100,000

000049| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -Fast Fourier Transforms : Disabled

000050| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000051| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -Chipset : Disabled

000052| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000053| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -L1 Cache : Disabled

000054| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000055| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -L2 Cache : Disabled

000056| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000057| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -Memory : Enabled

000058| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000059| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -HD : Enabled

000060| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000061| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -MMX : Enabled

000062| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000063| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -SSE : Disabled

000064| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000065| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -SSE2 : Disabled

000066| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000067| 0010 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | -3DNow! : Disabled

000068| 0011 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | --Thread Priority: THREAD_PRIORITY_NORMAL

000069| 1024 000005fc Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting Complex Matrix Module on CPU 0

000070| 1026 00000698 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting Calculating Pi Module on CPU 0

000071| 1028 00000198 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting Sorting Algorithms Module on CPU 0

000072| 1030 00000768 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting Prime Test Module on CPU 0

000073| 1038 0000055c Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting Memory Mdoule on CPU 0

000074| 1040 000007a4 Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting HD Module on CPU 0

000075| 1042 0000078c Nov, 24 - 01:45:51 | Starting MMX Module on CPU 0

000076| 9999 0000055c Nov, 24 - 07:42:54 | Running...

000077| 0000 0000055c Nov, 24 - 07:42:54 | Minidump file saved at C:\Program Files\Hot CPU Tester Pro 4 LE\\HCTNov24-074254.dmp

000078| 1043 0000078c Nov, 24 - 07:45:51 | Ending MMX Module on CPU 0

000079| 1027 00000698 Nov, 24 - 07:45:51 | Ending Calculating Pi Module

000080| 1029 00000198 Nov, 24 - 07:45:51 | Ending Sorting Algorithms Module on CPU 0

000081| 1031 00000768 Nov, 24 - 07:45:51 | Ending Prime Test Module on CPU 0

000082| 1041 000007a4 Nov, 24 - 07:45:51 | Ending HD Module on CPU 0

000083| 1025 000005fc Nov, 24 - 07:45:52 | Ending Complex Matrix Module on CPU 0

000084| 1009 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 09:09:27 | Closing Hot CPU Tester Pro...

000085| 0000 000006a0 Nov, 24 - 09:09:27 | ************ End of Session ************

Edited by sandorman, 24 November 2007 - 09:49 PM.


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#2 hamluis

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 08:49 AM

I cannot answer your question...I don't know, maybe someone can. You talk about all these problematical situations as if hardware is at fault and I guess I don't agree with that perspective.

But...if I were looking for answers to system sluggishness, I would start with:

a. Chkdsk /r or the equivalent from within XP.

b. Defrag of the boot/system partition.

c. Removal of trash/unused programs.

d. A complete review of Event Viewer errors until I am satisfied that I know they are either insignificant, corrected, or require further help.

e. Total (100%) satisfaction that no malware is screwing up my system.

Changing from one processor to another...isn't going to cure any of the above contributors.

Failing to verify/ameliorate any/all of the above and being time-conscious, I would just opt for a repair install (first) and/or a clean install.

Louis

#3 Budapest

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 02:03 AM

I would try testing the RAM with memtest86.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#4 sandorman

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 11:27 PM

Thanks, Budapest. I'll check out that program, maybe one of the free softwares they have for download will do.

hamluis, I respect that you may be more computer scientist than electrical engineer, but I am positive it is hardware to blame, so I'd like to operate from that as a starting point. I don't believe I could explain why I know this any more than I could explain how I knew my cat was mortally ill after seeing him for half a second after coming home from college when my parents thought he was fine and they'd been with him all day, but the cat died within 24 hours, and I say that I know it is a hardware problem and not a software one. So taking that as a given, I was hoping some observation I WAS able to put into words would identify WHICH piece of hardware was about to fail. I was sure the cause was not malware or a virus even before I did that test, I just did it to make sure there was nothing making it any worse than it would have been otherwise, or adding red herrings to the symptoms. It's not a problem with the boot sector needing defragmenting, or the recycle bin, which is empty, I know that some critical component in my computer is on the precipice of failing because I just know. At any rate, I now think there are two separate problems that occurred independently and a few days apart. My slave hard drive is about to fail AND there's some other component, RAM or CPU or motherboard, or some other critical computer component that I don't really understand (well, I know it's not the power supply) that is also about to fail. The file verification that was 50 times slower is only on the slave hard drive, not on the master, the master is only 2 or 3 times slower. The same is true of all read or write operations, the only determining factor is whether it's on drive c or d. Thinking over it, the slave hard drive started misbehaving suddenly but the other problem is what was more gradual.

//Sandor

Edited by sandorman, 26 November 2007 - 11:28 PM.





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