I have had some weird behavior from this system for about 4 months. Browsing has gotten slower and slower, youtube videos will not play properly (lots of stuttering and skipping), Google's basic page takes 15 or more seconds to load, and the system will sometimes even become unresponsive if you try to go into a more script-heavy site like Facebook.
I will jump to the part where 2 months ago, I did a system restore to a time before the problems started, out of desperation (not a fan of system restore). Immediate difference, everything was lightning fast, youtube videos smooth as butter, and browsing was quite responsive.
Now, to backtrack. When I first noticed the problem, I:
1. Ran hard disk scans
3. checked my BIOS settings to look for changes
4. updated the Marvell network drivers
5. ran tests on my DSL service
6. tested against other devices on the network for differences in speed (other devices had no troubles)
7. Booted in Safe Mode with Networking (no change)
8. Tested Firefox, Chrome, and even IE (which I hadn't opened in eons) - no change
9. Disabled all add-ons in Firefox - no change
10. Created a fresh profile in Firefox - no change
11. Cleared Temp files and the like - no change
12. Cleaned out computer (I do this regularly, anyway)
13. Checked startup entries - they are minimal on my system and all intentional
14. Reviewed services - found nothing unusual
At this point, I was at my wits end. I tried to run DDS, both in regular mode and safe mode. The scan would not get past the initial blue screen informing the user about scan times possibly doubling for heavily infected machines. I let it run overnight. Nothing. Tried to run rkill first to see if that would help - no change. Also shut down ZoneAlarm.
At that point, I ran the system restore, just to see if it would help. It was like a miracle. As described above.
Then, less than two weeks later, the problem started again. No patches had been installed, no updates, no hotfixes. All browsers affected.
At this point, I decided that DDS was not running because of some unusual behavior on my part, that only applies to this one machine (I am otherwise a normally functioning, mentally healthy individual).
1. I was running Windows XP Pro with SP2. All other systems I use had SP3, but this one I was hesitant on, as when SP3 first came out it had ZoneAlarm compatibililty issues. They were since resolved, but by then I had experience with SP3 failing during install on other systems. Made me nervous.
2. I had not run any Windows Updates - never had issues, didn't feel the need. All other systems I use, I update them as updates become available.
3. I run ZoneAlarm Pro 7 - I've been using it on this system for a long time, and like the old product. I have seen the new versions on other systems, and do not like them. This is the only system I use ZA on. I did disable it, seemed to make no difference. Also, after System Restore, it was still there, and everything was fast.
4. I use Daemon Tools Lite - This is where I get the "A HA!". I do need a CD image mounter, as I have kids who like to scratch disks. However, I read a thread about DDS locking up, and defogger was mentioned. Followed the instructions. Disabled the whole shebang. Didn't help. DDS still won't get past initial blue screen as mentioned above.
I also decided to stop being a baby, and I updated to SP3. Installed all available updates. Everything was still slow.
Today, I disabled daemon tools using defogger (I had un-defogged) and tried DDS again, as things were down to a crawl, and I was convinced despite the lack of processes showing in Task Manager (very lean setup) that I was suffering from a rootkit or something. Still won't proceed.
I am at a loss.
My Hardware Setup, in case it helps:
AMD Athlon XP 2500+
Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe (nforce2 Ultra 400 chipset) (latest BIOS)
2GB DDR400, Dual Channel Mode
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB
2 WD Black 1.5TB 7200RPM HDs (not RAID)
I don't think I have a hadware issue, as diagnostics came back clean and System Restore made things fly for more than a week.
Advice would be therapeutic. Thanks!