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thinkpad x41 repeated problems with programs crashing

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#1 MaryBet82


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Posted 02 July 2010 - 01:06 PM

thinkpad x41 w/ winxp tab ed sp3
Intel Pentium M processor 758 1500MHz
1.5 GB RAM
Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 42rpm HDD

When I first unpacked this thinkpad it booted very slowly, opened explorer and journal very slowly and explorer and journal frequently crashed. This was before I add/removed any programs or connected to the internet. It improved enough that I could use it after it went back to lenovo for repairs, but I've always had to put up w/ slow performance and regular program crashes.

Recently I had to replace the hdd and reinstall the OS & lenovo drivers/programs via the recovery discs. Since then various programs have failed to open w/ various error messages or programs open just to immediately stop responding. At first I couldn't get computer management, event viewer, etc to open. I can't remember now if I found a solution or if it the problem fixed itself.

Recently when windows loaded I got multiple messages that acs.exe was not responding and had to be closed. I would click multiple don't send buttons and go about my work. Periodically I'd get another set, but the messages did not seem to affect either my lan or internet access. I'm assuming at this point acs.exe belongs to an atheros wireless device. I don't have a dlink adapter or the firewall acs.exe is associated w/. I may have a cisco security program installed on here, but not one I've got activated. Since I connect wirelessly to my router, I figured the acs.exe was not actually being used in the current wireless configuration.
A couple of days ago firefox failed to open w/ same not responding message.

Per forum article I renamed ace.exe to ace.exe.old and the not responding messages went away. I can still access the lan w/out problem, adobe reader updated itself and I can surf w/ IE. Firefox's failure to open may or may not be related to the acs problem

When I tried to open device manager to see what drivers were listed for the thinkpad's wireless device I got a "run a dll as an App has encountered a problem and needs to close message" followed by DrWatson Postmortem Debugger has encountered a problem and needs to close.

There has been some basic problem w/ this computer since day 1 and I'm at a loss how to figure out what it is. Lenovo provides a utility called the Toolbox which runs hardware checks on the cpu, memory, hd, video, audio, etc and all tests have been OK since I replaced the HDD. The thinkpad's hdd has a lot of bad press in the forums as a poor performer. The system board's hdd attachment is SATA, but the hitachi is PATA and connects thru a adapter. Because of the physical form of the bay and attachments the only choice for the thinkpad is the hitachi hdd.

Since I've read that Windows writes to the hdd frequently, I've wondered if the poor performance of the hitachi hdd leads to program crashes as well as slow performance. But I don't understand why one week it's computer management and the next week it's acs and run a dll as an app and the next week it's Word. Some days explorer crashes frequently and other days it doesn't. I do the same old same old on the thinkpad and my other computers so it's not related to different patterns of use.

I've wondered if winxp tab ed is a problem OS - worse than winxp. I haven't read of a vista tab ed or a win7 tab ed. I've wondered if the processor is a problem or a poor match for the OS.

I've tried reading up on Performance Monitor so I could set up monitors to narrow down where the problems/bottlenecks are, but I can't find the numbers to compare results with. I've tried finding a 3rd party benchmark, but I haven't found one that is understandable and geared to a non-business, non-gaming computer.

Any suggestions?
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

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#2 hamluis



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Posted 02 July 2010 - 01:53 PM

Hi :thumbsup:.

Well, you are talking about a laptop that was new 5 years or so ago...IMO, that's a lot of time to put up with anything or expect superior performance.

From what I see...the laptop had good reviews when it debuted...but I don't put much stock in reviews of such products. A better indicator would be the fact that you have maintained it for 5 years.

One Review.

If this were mine...I would start with a clean install of the O/S...on a hard drive that I had run disk diagnostics on...and troubleshoot issues as they occurred from that base.

I imagine that "slow performance" is probably attributable to the fact that all of the original Lenovo software is being used. I would wipe all that and do a clean install of XP (or whatever), using a valid license. You would probably be surprised how much removal of original software and partitioning...can improve performance on a laptop (IMO).

<<...but the hitachi is PATA and connects thru a adapter.>>

That probably does not help performance. SATA notebook hard drives are more readily available and cheaper than IDE drives today...and, of course, they are faster than PATA hard drives.

<<Because of the physical form of the bay and attachments the only choice for the thinkpad is the hitachi hdd.>>

Sez who :flowers:? AFAIK, Hitachi laptop hard drives...are no different than any other manufacturer's laptop hard drives. If you connect one, you can connect them all.


Edited by hamluis, 02 July 2010 - 01:54 PM.

#3 MaryBet82

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 12:44 PM

Thanks hamluis,

It's an old computer because I'm on limited income - I've done way too much troubleshooting trying to get it to work/keep it working but I can't afford to simply replace it. It's my portable computer and there have been long periods of times it didn't get much use- either because I didn't need to use it or I didn't have time to troubleshoot it. Other times it's had to function as my main computer while my main computer was down and I spent equal time troubleshooting and actually using it. If I'd had the $, I'd have replaced it years ago.

I just had to replace the hdd and had to format/install via lenovo's recovery disks. It runs winxp tab ed, which I read isn't available via MS and you can't get a winxp tab ed cd to do a clean install with. I have an extra licensed copy of winxp, but I have no idea how I'd install all the lenovo software [like the hdd anti-shock program] and the tablet features like pen and ink. I expect I could download all lenovo's drivers/programs from their support site. I have a hard time understanding the info lenovo provides - figuring out which download does what. Like I have a hard time figuring out which programs on the X41 are necessary and what does what. I searched MS awhile back to see if I could download the pen functions in the tab ed, but I forget what I found.

Initially and after a reformat/reinstall I do uninstall the trial software installed by lenovo/ the recovery disks. I google the programs in the msconfig start tab and the processes tab of taskmanager and uninstall and remove from startup any programs I can figure out are unnecessary and I disable or change to manual start any services I can figure out are unnecessary. I also use processor explorer in getting a list of .exe and .dll's under svhost to match w/ my list of programs running on the thinkpad.

I read in a couple of thinkpad forums about people wanting/needing to replace the hdd and nothing other than the hitachi [expensive, but I was still under warranty] fitting because of the side the connectors were on and the size of the bay. Someone managed to put in a solid state drive and get it to work, but they are expensive.

I've run hardware checks both from w/in windows using the lenovo toolbox utility and HD Tune and from the thinkpads's rescue and recovery utility and everything passed [x the parallel port test, which it doesn't have]. But I don't know if there's some test that should be run and isn't and I don't know if a hardware problem could cause the problems I'm seeing. From my reading, it seems that the os has to be written to utilize the cpu properly, so I think a defect in the cpu or a mismatch between cpu and os could cause the widespread instability the thinkpad displays. Or a poorly written os. All I know is that the computer fails to function as it should.

I have been wondering if I could/should install winxp on the tablet- if the tab ed is a buggy OS that everyone else along w/ MS abandoned long ago. I've also wondered if win7 would run on the x41. I think I'll look into the cost/possibility of installing win7 or winxp while retaining the pen functions for which I purchased the x41. Unfortunately, yesterday when I booted I got a BSOD and, as usual, neither safe mode or last known good configuration worked. I don't feel like troubleshooting a BSOD, so the thinkpad is probably going to sit for awhile again.
mac 10.6 on macbook pro
WinXP sp2 on Dell 380 w/ 512 MB RAM- currently dead in the water
WinXP tab ed sp 3 on Thinkpad X41 w/ 1.5 GB RAM - lemony flavored
Win2K Sp4 on Sony VAIO GXR600 w/ 512 MB RAM - currently blue screening

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