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Constant hard-drive noise


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#1 benny269

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:44 AM

Hi all,

I have what is now a 4-5 years old Compaq Presario desktop PC running XP which hasn't been formatted and reinstalled for quite some time. While all the usual problems such as slow to boot and general sluggishness have set in, I never upgraded the 512Mb RAM either (and my Firefox is hogging plenty of that) but lately it seems to have worsened.

My main concern is with the hard drive which is the supplied Seagate Barracuda 200Gb. Its always been a shockingly noisy drive which makes clear "errrrrr" sounds whenever its accessing/reading/writing etc but there seem to be periods of time when its continually doing this. Its not only horrifically annoying as well as a drain on the already strained system. Is there a way of checking if everything is normal and nothing I cannot improve?

I know the system being old it could do with formatting or just plain replacing but its doing the job right now and its not a good time at the moment.

Help is appreciated. Thanks.

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#2 dpunisher

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:57 AM

Open Task Manager, select VIEW,select columns, select "I/O writes" and "I/O reads". Now you can see what is writing/reading from your hard drive. How many processes do you have running? How much free memory?

Usual stuff applies. 512mb of RAM is borderline for XP. Do the usual scan for viruses, kill unneeded processes and startup items.

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#3 MrBruce1959

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 12:03 PM

I do not feel your computer is really that old, I have seen older computers than yours that purr along with no problems.

I must say that to todays standards 512 Mb of memory is not what it used to be and once that 512 Mb is used up, your computer tends to use your hard drive as virtual memory, requiring more hard drive access.

I tend to believe your motherboard can probably support more memory than 512 Mb.

You did not specify your computer's model number, so I can not check the specs to see what the total amount it supports.

If you are concerned about what is running on your computer and using resources, there are two programs from Microsoft Technet that can help you determine what is running and how much resources it is using.

The two programs are called Auto runs and Process Explorer, the links below explain what the programs do and each page has a link to download the programs.

Autoruns http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinte...s/bb963902.aspx

Process Explorer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinte...s/bb896653.aspx

Kind regards.

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#4 Kalon Wiggins

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 12:45 PM

I agree that reducing the programs running will help no matter what.

Your problem is cause by either not enough ram or a failing hard drive.

Step 1: Backup your important data now now now.

If you don't have enough ram then your computer will use a portion of your hard drive as 'backup ram.' This is called your pagefile. Hard drives are much slower than ram so if you system is relying on this extra space to make up for not enough ram, it will bog you down considerably because it will be constantly writing to your hard drive.

If you have service pack3 you need more ram. I recommend 1gb+. If you have service pack2, then go to your task manager (control-alt-delete, then task manager) and go to the performance tab. If your pf usage monitor is going crazy, then you know. Look at the Commit Charge box. Your total is your physical ram, the limit is that combination of your physical ram plus your page file. If the peak is over the 'total' after booting up then you are already in touble. If it gets close to the limit after a little regular computer activity then again you are in trouble. You want to add more RAM. At least 1gb total, preferably 2gb if you can.

If these numbers don't indicate needing more RAM, then your hard drive is most likely breathing its dieing breath. Get a new hard drive and either do a fresh OS install, or clone your old drive to the new one to retain your data and programs.

It could also be both :thumbsup:

#5 Synetech

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 02:58 PM

Whenever excessive, unexplained disk access is an issue, my first piece of advice is to use Sysinternalsí FileMon to view what processes are accessing what files. (Be careful though because you can suddenly be inundated with a big log, so you may want to press Ctrl-E, wait a second or two and press it again just to get a quick sampling.) From that you can then determine what and why the excessive accesses are happening and take actions accordingly.
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#6 benny269

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 07:23 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions. I will be using Process Explorer, Autoruns and Filemon to figure out exactly what's going on.

dpunisher: About 50 processes running, not sure how to check available memory - Task Manager Performance Tab > Available Physical Memory (K) 93000

MrBruce1959: Model no is Compaq Presario SR1439UK , would appreciate if you could figure out the supported RAM

Kalon Wiggins: I do have SP3 but for reference PF usage monitor is steady at over 800MB, after standard usage Commit Charge (K) box reads Total 825324, Limit 1277240, Peak 991228 if that helps

I just wonder whether it is worth spending cash on a PC this old. I would certainly be happy to continue using it if it was in good shape but I had expected the RAM upgrade to cost more than is worth spending. With this additional info can someone suggest the type and amount of RAM to use? UK seller example would be ideal.

Thanks again.

#7 Synetech

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 09:57 PM

Check eBay and any local classified sites (there does not seem to be a Kijiji for the UK :thumbsup:). I recently found 1GB of SDRAM for my aging system for <$20 after shipping on eBay.
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#8 dc3

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 10:51 PM

Just curious. How large is your hdd, and how much free space do you have on it?

I agree with the others that suggest adding more RAM, another 512MB will make a substantial difference in performance. But I would suggest either purchasing from a local shop, or from a reliable online dealer like Newegg, or Tiger Direct. Of course you could always go to a manufacturer's website like Crucial to make a purchase. They are a very reliable manufacturer, and their prices are competitive.

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#9 benny269

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 05:03 PM

dc3: 200GB drive with 183GB usuable space of which 101GB is used and 83GB is available.

From what I can tell looking at my mobo, there's only 2 RAM slots which are currently occupied by 2x256MB sticks. If its worth my while to upgrade then I need to buy a new set. So would you recommend 2x512MB, 1x1GB, 2x1GB or a mix? I'm looking for the best VALUE more than anything else (i.e. don't mind spending more if its worth my while). I could also use some help to identify what type of RAM would be compatible - will it take DDR2?

#10 dc3

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:35 PM

If you post the make and model of your computer I can make some suggestions. Or, you can go to the Crucial website and use their scan to see what they suggest.

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#11 slimus

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:53 PM

Hi Benny269

I would be tempted to max out at 2GB if I had the funds. XP will fly with 2GB in comparison to 512KB, your pagefile usage will drop dramatically which will stop your hard disc from thrashing as it is at the moment. You said that after startup your commit charge total is around is about 850KB which doesn't leave much memory for applications if you only put 1GB in. If your PC is adequate for you then it is better to bite the bullet and put the 2GB in which should give you a couple of years more usage from it..

Have fun

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#12 Synetech

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 07:58 PM

To find out what kind of RAM you can use you will need to check the manual for your motherboard. Get a copy of (the now free) HWiNFO32. It will give you all the details about your system that you could ever want or need. Then you can check the site of the manufacturer of your mobo for a manual.

Edited by Synetech, 12 August 2010 - 07:58 PM.

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#13 MrBruce1959

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 07:41 AM

If you post the make and model of your computer I can make some suggestions.


Hi dc3
He posted it in a link above. it's a Compaq Presario SR1439UK Desktop PC

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#14 MrBruce1959

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 07:47 AM

Benny269 here's a link regarding your memory upgrade pssibilities.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/documen...;product=469063

And your computer's specs, take note of the memory section. http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/documen...;product=469063

Kind regards.

Bruce.
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#15 benny269

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 07:41 AM

Thanks MrBruce and others.

Something like this Kingston HyperX 2x1GB?




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