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Strange Problem - Not entirely sure whether it's a software or hardware problem


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#1 Black87

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 11:50 AM

Hi all, I was hoping someone could help me out. I've been having a reoccurring issue with my laptop. The basic issue is that it runs very, very slow - using about 80%-100% of the CPU when a program is open and 30%-50% of the CPU when no programs are open. If I try to restart the computer, it will hang on a black screen between the "Starting Windows" screen and the "Welcome" screen.

The first few times it occurred (July, October, and mid-November) a System Restore from Safe Mode solved the issue. The fourth and fifth times it happened (late November and early December) I had to try restoring to multiple different restore points before it would work again. The sixth time (mid-December) no amount of System Restores did anything. I ended up running the "sfc scannow" command and that seemed to solve it. The seventh time (late December) neither System Restore nor "sfc scannow" did anything. I ended up reformatting and doing a clean install of Windows. That solved the problem for about a week, then last night it started happening again.

I'm a little lost at this point. I've run tests on both the memory and hard drive and they came out fine. I looked through the event logs each time the issue occurred and didn't see anything that seemed likely to cause this. The fact that it keeps reoccurring, even after a clean install, makes me think it's some kind of hardware issue. But the fact that the computer works completely fine between these occurrences makes me think it's a software problem. I'm by no means an expert when it comes to computer issues and I'm at the end of my rope. These occurrences keep happening closer and closer to each other and I'm really hoping someone can shed some light on the issue.

I'm running Windows 7 Professional with Service Pack 1. The laptop is a Compaq 8710w.

Edit: Just wanted to add that at this point I haven't tried restarting my laptop yet, because I don't want to get stuck having to do a bunch of system restores/possible reinstall if there's some easier fix I'm unaware of.

Edited by Black87, 02 January 2012 - 11:53 AM.


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#2 LucheLibre

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 12:01 PM

Hello and welcome.

Use Process Explorer to provide an overview of your running processes.

  • Download the .zip file and extract to a folder on your desktop. Run program.
  • In Vista/7: Click File > Show Details for All Processes.
  • Click View > Select Columns and check the Command Line box. Click OK.
  • If necessary, continue to use the computer until it displays the undesirable behaviour (lagging, freezes, etc). Immediately switch back to Process Explorer and press the Space Bar to pause updates.
  • Click File > Save As.... Save to your desktop as procexp.txt.
  • Attach (do not copy & paste) procexp.txt to your next reply. Use the forum's "Full Editor" to attach files.

Note: Do not unpause or exit Process Explorer unless directed to.
==========================================

Use Speccy to provide details of your computer's configuration.

  • Download, install, and run
  • After Speccy has finished gathering information, click File > Publish Snapshot
  • In the Publish Snapshot dialog box, click Yes to enable Speccy to proceed.
  • A web address will be displayed, click Copy to Clipboard and paste it in your next post.
=========================================

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~


#3 Black87

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 01:25 PM

Thanks for helping me out. I couldn't find the "Show Details for All Processes" option in the File menu or any other menu.

Speccy Snapshot: http://speccy.piriform.com/results/wnZN7Hzks8I37C5E6hcncLt

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#4 LucheLibre

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:03 PM

Please upload "C:\Users\Carla\Local Settings\Apps\F.lux\flux.exe" to Virustotal and post the results in your next reply. If VT says that the file has already been scanned, please reanalyze it.

Edited by LucheLibre, 02 January 2012 - 02:04 PM.

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~


#5 Black87

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:33 PM

Antivirus results
AhnLab-V3 - 2012.01.02.00 - 2012.01.02 - -
AntiVir - 7.11.20.126 - 2012.01.02 - -
Antiy-AVL - 2.0.3.7 - 2012.01.02 - -
Avast - 6.0.1289.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
AVG - 10.0.0.1190 - 2012.01.02 - -
BitDefender - 7.2 - 2012.01.02 - -
ByteHero - 1.0.0.1 - 2011.12.31 - -
CAT-QuickHeal - 12.00 - 2012.01.02 - -
ClamAV - 0.97.3.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
Commtouch - 5.3.2.6 - 2012.01.02 - -
Comodo - 11171 - 2012.01.02 - -
DrWeb - 5.0.2.03300 - 2012.01.02 - -
Emsisoft - 5.1.0.11 - 2012.01.02 - -
eSafe - 7.0.17.0 - 2012.01.01 - -
eTrust-Vet - 37.0.9658 - 2012.01.02 - -
F-Prot - 4.6.5.141 - 2012.01.02 - -
F-Secure - 9.0.16440.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
Fortinet - 4.3.388.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
GData - 22 - 2012.01.02 - -
Ikarus - T3.1.1.109.0 - 2011.12.31 - -
Jiangmin - 13.0.900 - 2012.01.01 - -
K7AntiVirus - 9.123.5838 - 2012.01.02 - -
Kaspersky - 9.0.0.837 - 2012.01.02 - -
McAfee - 5.400.0.1158 - 2012.01.02 - -
McAfee-GW-Edition - 2010.1E - 2012.01.02 - -
Microsoft - 1.7903 - 2012.01.02 - -
NOD32 - 6762 - 2012.01.02 - -
Norman - 6.07.13 - 2012.01.02 - -
nProtect - 2012-01-02.01 - 2012.01.02 - -
Panda - 10.0.3.5 - 2012.01.02 - -
PCTools - 8.0.0.5 - 2012.01.02 - -
Prevx - 3.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
Rising - 23.90.05.01 - 2011.12.31 - -
Sophos - 4.72.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
SUPERAntiSpyware - 4.40.0.1006 - 2011.12.30 - -
Symantec - 20111.2.0.82 - 2012.01.02 - -
TheHacker - 6.7.0.1.368 - 2011.12.31 - -
TrendMicro - 9.500.0.1008 - 2012.01.02 - -
TrendMicro-HouseCall - 9.500.0.1008 - 2012.01.02 - -
VBA32 - 3.12.16.4 - 2012.01.02 - -
VIPRE - 11341 - 2012.01.02 - -
ViRobot - 2012.1.2.4859 - 2012.01.02 - -
VirusBuster - 14.1.146.0 - 2012.01.02 - -
File info:
MD5: a1f86a5a0da1bec12b7dd19c6234bb15
SHA1: 0761f9e56677af208c1a1d9efe3694062d89a870
SHA256: dbbacf4a78355261e652fc6612f007278d96907d8d2f9fc5c06fc58667c52202
File size: 966656 bytes
Scan date: 2012-01-02 19:03:03 (UTC)

F.lux is a program that adapts the color of the computer screen at night. I've had it installed on multiple computers for years with no problems. Did you want me to scan f.lux because you didn't recognize it or because it's using more system resources than it should? Could it be conflicting with my graphics card drivers or something of that sort?

#6 LucheLibre

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 03:06 PM

SystemExplorer said that flux is what you said it was. The rest of the internet says that flux.exe is a threat, so I wanted to double-check.

When you said you ran tests on your HDD, did you mean that you used the manufacturer's diagnostics program?

In your procexp log, what was Firefox doing at that moment?

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~


#7 Black87

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 03:12 PM

The hard drive test I ran from the BIOS menu. When I ran process explorer Firefox was running with a couple of tabs open (this thread and gmail). It wasn't loading anything or being "actively used". I have to leave the house for a couple of hours, so if you reply and don't hear back for awhile, that's why. Thanks again for your help.

#8 LucheLibre

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 03:22 PM

Download Seatools from here. Install and Run. The user guide is available on that page as well. Run the most comprehensive test the program allows.

What plugins do you have installed in Firefox?

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~


#9 Black87

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 07:54 PM

Just ran the long test and it passed. The only Firefox extension I have installed is AdBlock Plus.

#10 Black87

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 07:06 PM

Just wanted to add an update. When I returned from work this evening I turned on my computer and it's working completely fine. The fact that the problem seems to have fixed itself, points towards a hardware issue, I'm assuming. Considering both the hard drive tests and memory test passed, what else could be causing this?

#11 LucheLibre

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 07:21 PM

Sorry about the wait. Internet died on me.

Does this behavior happen if Firefox is not installed? It could be innocuous, but firefox with 1 extension seems to be using a lot of resources for just sitting there.

It's only a gut feeling, but the base functions on your pc seem to be too 'busy' for an relatively idle system: system, interrupts, explorer, the window manager. With the history you've given, if it's not hardware, I think there's some program you keep installing or some behavior you keep repeating that gets your computer into trouble.

The only piece of hardware besides memory and hard drives that is a common cause of random corruptions and degredation is the power supply. If all else fails, you can always get another adapter and try that.

The following is more just a possibility than a real plan of action, so consider them optional.

Use Autoruns to list startup programs.

  • Download the .zip file and extract to a folder on your desktop. Open that folder, right-click autoruns and select Run As Administrator.
  • Autoruns will begin scanning immediately. Press Esc to interrupt it.
  • Click Options > Filter Options and check Hide Microsoft Entries. Click OK
  • Press F5 to begin a new scan.
  • When it is finished, click File > Save and save the report to your desktop.
  • Locate the report on the desktop, right click, select Send To > Compressed (zipped) Folder. A new archive will appear on the desktop.
  • Attach that archive file to your next post.
============================================================

In paused Process Explorer:
  • Click View > Lower Pane View > DLLs. Click the Firefox entry. Go to File > Save As and save to your desktop as firefoxdll.txt
  • Click View > Lower Pane View > Handles. Again go to File > Save As and save to your desktop as firefoxhandle.txt
  • Attach (do not copy/paste) both files to your next reply.
=============================================================

Edited by LucheLibre, 03 January 2012 - 07:23 PM.

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~


#12 Black87

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 08:16 PM

I believe I've discovered the issue thanks to your comment. The problem would appear to be the power adapter. The cord is "broken" (for lack of a better word) near where it plugs into the laptop. It's been getting worse over time, but I never thought anything of it. I was taking a picture of the broken part of the cord to post here and ask if it could be the problem. In the process the power cord got "jiggled" and everything suddenly slowed. I unplugged the power cord and everything sped back up. Plugged it back in and everything slowed down again. Thanks so much for your help! I never would've thought the power cord could've caused an issue like this.

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#13 LucheLibre

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 08:49 PM

Sorry, I must have been putting together my last post while you posted #10.

I'm glad to hear you found the problem, though I feel foolish for not mentioning the power supply sooner. Learning, learning....

Take care.

Edited by LucheLibre, 03 January 2012 - 08:50 PM.

If it looks like I know what I'm doing, there's a pretty good chance the only reason for that is because
I once asked someone to run chkdsk /r and a BC Advisor smacked me in the back of the head.

~ LL ~





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