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Extreme computer lag

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#1 DavidAg02


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Posted 21 October 2008 - 02:08 PM

Hi everyone,

I need some advice diagnosing a problem with my parents computer. I have been trying to help them out over the phone, so please bear with me on this.

The computer is a few years old. Runs Windows XP with 512 MB RAM, 1.8 GHz processor and a 120 GB hard drive. It's "protected" from Viruses and Spyware by Norton Internet Security 2008.

On Sunday my parents called me saying that the computer had slowed down immensely. I clocked over 20 seconds just for them to expand the start menu. Running programs is nearly impossible.

I was able to walk them through a round of Advanced Windows Care and Ccleaner to fix any registry glitches and clean out any junk files. That did not help the problem at all. They also did a MalwareBytes scan which turned up nothing. Then they attempted to defrag the hard drive over night, but it was impossible due to the extreme lag.

The really odd part is that CPU usage hovers between 5-10% even while lagging terribly, with occasional spikes up to 15%. I expected it to be maxed out...

Any ideas on how to fix this problem are extremely appreciated! It has been very difficult to help them through this, because it takes such a long time to run the diagnostics that I am so familiar with.

Houston, TX

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#2 Budapest


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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:57 PM

Have a look in the Event Viewer for any errors at the time of the lags.

To open the Event Viewer go to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer. Alternately, go to Start > Run and type in "eventvwr.msc" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

Check in all the categories.

If you find an error that occurred at the time right-click on it and select properties. Copy the information in the window and post it back here. This will help us diagnose your problem.

How To Use the Event Viewer
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#3 hamluis



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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:55 AM

If unsuccessful with the guidance provided by budapest...

I would run a chkdsk /r on the hard drive...from the XP recovery console.

If that works, then I'd try a defrag.


#4 usasma


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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:58 AM

Most likely (IME) this will be a problem with Norton (most likely a corruption) and will be compounded by the lack of RAM.
A quick way to verify the Norton issue is to uninstall it, then run the Norton Removal Tool (available for free from here: http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/norto...2908475279?Open ) If it speeds back up, then the Norton was to blame. Either reinstall the Norton or pick another solution (our recommendations are here: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic3616.html ) Don't leave the system unprotected!!!

To verify this....

Open up Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and click on the Processes tab
Then click on the View menu item and select "Select columns"
In the next window, place a checkmark next to I/O Reads and click OK to accept the change

Then resize the Task Manager window so you can see all the columns (and as many of the processes as is possible).
Double click on the I/O Reads column to sort it by I/O Reads (this will tell us about hard drive activity).
Then do whatever causes the lag to happen. Copy down the Image Names for the one's that take the most hard drive activity.

Then repeat this for the Memory column.

Next, go to the Performance tab in Task Manager and initiate the behavior that causes the lag. See what happens with the pagefile graph. Then check the numbers in the Physical Memory to see what's Available - also check the Commit charge to see if the Total is approaching the Peak. Also see how close to the Limit that the Peak is.

Back in the day when XP was first released, 512 mB of RAM quickly became the standard for it's use. But as RAM prices have decreased, and programmers are able to design increasingly complex programs, 512 mB of RAM just doesn't cut it. At work we recommend a minimum of 1 gB with 2 gB being optimal for todays programs (this'll depend on what the computer is able to handle too).
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