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Serious, Sudden Slowdown


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#1 Slomoz

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 03:21 AM

The Problem: An across the board slowdown and degradation of performance. Programs can take 20-30 seconds to open. Ditto for large folders. Sometimes it can even take several seconds for a window to close or minimize. If I don't give the computer all the time it needs to perform a task, it will lock up completely for 20-30 seconds. Also, it periodically refreshes, or pauses or takes a time out -- I don't know the correct term. Sometimes the hourglass will appear; sometimes not, but I cannot do anything for a couple of seconds (sometimes longer) and it usually makes whatever window I'm working on inactive and I have to click on it to resume.

Armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and a lot of Googling, I came to suspect the problem might be caused by using too much RAM. According to CoolMon, I was often using 490-500 MB of the 512 I have available. (Of course, I never bothered to notice how much RAM I was using before the problem started. Duh!)

However, if high RAM usage is the culprit, something else seems to be causing the RAM usage to spike. For one thing, the problem started all of a sudden. One day it was working fine; the next day it wasn't. And, I do not remember making any major change or program installation in between, but it's possible.

For another thing, this is what my memory usage looked like right after I rebooted and logged into both user accounts. CoolMon said I was using 363MB of RAM. (Earlier in the evening, I'd seen the RAM usage down in the low 200s, but didn't get a screenshot and couldn't duplicate a figure that low. The computer was moving right along for a few minutes there.)

Posted Image

I didn't do anything on the computer, just opened task manager and watched the numbers. There was virtually no change in anything. After eight minutes the computer did one of those "time outs" and when that was over the numbers really started changing. When the dust had settled after 15-20 seconds, this is what the memory usage looked like. I was using 458MB of RAM with nothing but the programs that run in the background open.

Posted Image

This may be normal, but if it is, I'd appreciate someone explaining what's going on so I can add to computer literacy.


Miscellaneous Information: The CPU usage doesn't seem to be effected by any of this. It's just fluctuating in the low single digits.

I've run Avast, Spybot, Ad-Aware, Spysweeper, MS Defender and A-squared without finding any virus or malware. Ditto for running chkdsk and defrag. I know I've got this computer cluttered with too much unused garbage and too many programs launching on startup. (I've been working on cleaning it up.) There has been a gradual slowdown as a result. Still, this dramatic slowdown happened all at once.

The computer is a Dell Dimension 4550 that's a few months over three years old. XP (Home) SP-2.

If anyone has any ideas about what's going on and/or what I should check out, I'd certainly appreciate hearing them.

Thank you!

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#2 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 12:26 PM

So tell me, do you have two user accounts, one named jo and one named marvin? You have both users logged in when this happens?

It looks like a lot of processes are duplicated: Norton, Copernic Desktop 5, Notesholder, are just a few that are duplicated.

So, when the slowdown happens, log off one of the users and see if all gets back to normal. If it does it is probably RAM related.

Let's see how the RAM situation is. When the computer is slow, go to: ctrl + alt + del, click on the Performance tab, tell us the numbers for Physical Memory Total and Available.
ALBERT FRANKENSTEIN
I'M SO SMART IT'S SCARY!


Currently home chillin' with the fam and my two dogs!


#3 Slomoz

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 02:40 AM

Yes, there are two user accounts, but it doesn't matter as far as the memory usage spike and resulting degradation in performance is concerned. It happens with both accounts open, but it will also happen with only one of the accounts open.

Closing one account may (or may not) help performance slightly. It's hard to say since I cannot be on both accounts doing the same thing at the same time. However, performance is still bad with only one account open after the memory usage has spiked.

Also, having only one or both the accounts open doesn't effect physical memory much because one account alone will almost max out the RAM and get into virtual memory. Adding the second account is almost all virtual memory.

Here what memory usage looks like on Task Manager and Everest prior to a spike and only one account open:

Posted Image

Posted Image

And here's what it looks like after memory usage has gone crazy:

Posted Image

Posted Image

And just for jollies, here a look post-spike with both accounts open:

Posted Image

As stated in my original post, I'm not doing anything to cause the memory spike. I've just logged into the account opened IrfanView to save the screenshots and open Task Manager and Everest to watch the numbers. After a few minutes (sometimes longer), the memory for every process that's running just starts climbing.

Looney Tunes Time: I hesitate to mention this tidbit that I discovered quite by accident because it sounds so off the wall but... If I connect to the Internet, the memory usage will instantly plummet back down to where it was before the spike. I bring up the "connect" box, click dial, get a box saying that the computer is "opening port" and the instant that box changes to "dialing" the memory usage is back to normal -- for a little while, until it spikes again. After accidentally discovering this, I tried it a half dozen more times and it always worked. Honest, I'm not hallucinating.

#4 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 06:35 AM

It sounds to me like you have some hidden malware installed on your computer. At least it is worth checking out in my opinion. Would you like instructions on how to do this?
ALBERT FRANKENSTEIN
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#5 Enthusiast

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 07:59 AM

Try eliminating unnecessary aps from starting in your startup menu.
I recommend Startup inspector for startup menu management.

Startup Inspector (manages startup menu – helps you identify aps in the startup menu so you can disable unnecessary programs from running in the background when they are not needed)

And

Startup Monitor (a small freeware ap available on the same page to notify you and require your permission for any program to add itself to your startup menu)

http://www.windowsstartup.com/download.php

Also - why is it necessary to have both accounts logged on?
Shut off fast user switching if you do not usually need it. (If you are not switching users often and continually)

Be aware that Windows XP is an extremely competent memory manager and by design utilizes system resources for Windows system maintenance when not being used by other aps. If you have any of the "Ram management" third party programs they can actually cause the opposite effect of what they purport to do. Shut them off or uninstall them as they disable access to memory for programs that actually need it thereby slowing your computer's response times.

I agree with Albert that you need to check for malware.
What resident anti-malware programs do you have, and do you have some with realtime protection, which is necessary and recommended?

What resident anti-virus program do you have running? When was the last time you updated its definitions and ran a scan?

Freeware AntiSpyware and Security Programs

Software firewalls with freeware versions
(Run only one and disable the ineffective Windows XP firewall)

ZoneAlarm (freeware) V. 6.1.744:
http://www.download.com/ZoneAlarm/3000-10435_4-10039884.html
(you can have only one software firewall running. More than one will conflict)

Comodo firewall (freeware)
http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/

Antivirus programs - freeware
(you can only use one resident anti-virus program on your computer. More than one will conflict)

AVG:
http://www.grisoft.com/doc/289/lng/us/tpl/tpl01

Avast Anti-virus freeware
http://www.komando.com/bestshareware.asp

Anti-malware freeware
(You can run as many of these as you wish. Generally there is no conflict between these and you should always run several since each may find malware that the others may not find)

Ad-Aware SE Personal - freeware
http://www.lavasoft.com/
Click on Adaware SE Personal in “Products” on the left side of the page
Or it may be easier to find it here:
http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/Adawa...nal/965718306/1


Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
Be sure to enable “Teatimer” which gives you realtime protection against malware invasion. (absolutely necessary)

Microsoft Windows Defender
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/s...re/default.mspx
This also provides realtime protection. (absolutely necessary)

Ewido Antispyware Free
http://free.grisoft.com/doc/20/lng/us/tpl/v5

SpywareBlaster: http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (Win XP and Win 2000):
http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.mspx

A˛ - Free from http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4281.html . Run it, click Search for Updates, then click Scan.

#6 TMacK

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:49 AM

Hi Slomoz
Some more food for thought...here is a great all around Checklist to go thru when your computer is running poorly. It's written by a Micro$oft MVP,so it's gotta have something helpful in it. *tongue in cheek*
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

aaaaaaaa a~Suzie Wagner

#7 Slomoz

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:20 AM

I want to apologize for not getting back to this thread. Posted Image I haven't received any email notifications after the first reply so I didn't realize there'd been more activity. I'd have probably checked it out anyway, except I've been in the process of stumbling across the answer to my own problem.

My problem was Webroot SpySweeper's new 5.0 version released in mid-July. Once I'd isolated SpySweeper as the culprit and did some Googling, I discovered that problems with 5.0 as released were numerous and widespread, including memory bloat and crashes. Webroot released a patched version (V5.0.7 build 1608) on Monday, August 7. I uninstalled the older build, used CCleaner to clean up registry traces and installed the newest build. So far, no problems and RAM is staying under control.

Thanks for giving it a shot and especially for all those links, Enthusiast. There's a lot there that I need to check out and take care of even if I'm not currently having a problem. :thumbsup:

#8 Enthusiast

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 08:11 AM

You are welcome.

I suggest you use all of the anti-malware aps.
Some will duplicate certain functions such as warning you of registry changes but they are all good (and free), and work well to protect your computer against malware.

Keep them updated (set the ones that will update automatically to do so).

#9 Slomoz

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 10:43 AM

...use all of the anti-malware aps.


I've got and use all the anti-malware applications you listed except for Ewido. I'll check it out.

I only use Spybot for scans, though. I've got all its realtime protection shut down. I remember reading about Teatimer in tutorials here and trying to keep it enabled. There was some kind of conflict, probably with SpySweeper. It's been too long and I just don't remember the details of the problems caused. Perhaps I'll turn Teatimer back on and see what happens.

#10 Orange Blossom

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 11:03 AM

If you already have a real-time protection program on the look out for registry changes, then there is no need to activate Tea Timer. It might be that the conflict you mentioned was because two such programs were interfering with each other.

Orange Blossom :thumbsup:
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#11 Slomoz

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 11:30 AM

Right now both SpySweeper and Windows Defender are providing realtime protection -- and they seem to be getting along. Why go looking to cause problems, right?

Thanks, Orange Blossom. :thumbsup:

#12 Orange Blossom

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 11:48 AM

There are different kinds of real-time protection:

1) Anti-Virus sample programs: AVG7, AV part of ZoneAlarm pro
2) Anti-spyware: sample programs: Edwido, Anti-spyware part of ZoneAlarm pro
3) Anti-hijacking/malware: sample program: Spyware guard
4) Registry changes: sample programs: Counterspy does this as does TeaTimer, and to a certain extent Ad-Watch

There are probably other kinds I am not aware of, and certainly many more programs in every category. What you want to be certain of is that for each TYPE you have only one program providing real-time protection to avoid program conflicts. Others can be used as standalones or manually started scanners to double check, since every program has different definitions. Just make sure that if you scan with a different AV that you temporarily shut down your AV real-time protection to prevent conflicts. Reinstate the protection when finished scanning.

So for TeaTimer, do you have a program that provides the same KIND of real-time protection? If so, then you don't need Tea-Timer. If not, you might want to check into it.

Orange Blossom :thumbsup:
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#13 ComputerMan23

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 04:41 PM

The Problem: An across the board slowdown and degradation of performance. Programs can take 20-30 seconds to open. Ditto for large folders. Sometimes it can even take several seconds for a window to close or minimize. If I don't give the computer all the time it needs to perform a task, it will lock up completely for 20-30 seconds. Also, it periodically refreshes, or pauses or takes a time out -- I don't know the correct term. Sometimes the hourglass will appear; sometimes not, but I cannot do anything for a couple of seconds (sometimes longer) and it usually makes whatever window I'm working on inactive and I have to click on it to resume.

Armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and a lot of Googling, I came to suspect the problem might be caused by using too much RAM. According to CoolMon, I was often using 490-500 MB of the 512 I have available. (Of course, I never bothered to notice how much RAM I was using before the problem started. Duh!)

However, if high RAM usage is the culprit, something else seems to be causing the RAM usage to spike. For one thing, the problem started all of a sudden. One day it was working fine; the next day it wasn't. And, I do not remember making any major change or program installation in between, but it's possible.

For another thing, this is what my memory usage looked like right after I rebooted and logged into both user accounts. CoolMon said I was using 363MB of RAM. (Earlier in the evening, I'd seen the RAM usage down in the low 200s, but didn't get a screenshot and couldn't duplicate a figure that low. The computer was moving right along for a few minutes there.)

Posted Image

I didn't do anything on the computer, just opened task manager and watched the numbers. There was virtually no change in anything. After eight minutes the computer did one of those "time outs" and when that was over the numbers really started changing. When the dust had settled after 15-20 seconds, this is what the memory usage looked like. I was using 458MB of RAM with nothing but the programs that run in the background open.

Posted Image

This may be normal, but if it is, I'd appreciate someone explaining what's going on so I can add to computer literacy.


Miscellaneous Information: The CPU usage doesn't seem to be effected by any of this. It's just fluctuating in the low single digits.

I've run Avast, Spybot, Ad-Aware, Spysweeper, MS Defender and A-squared without finding any virus or malware. Ditto for running chkdsk and defrag. I know I've got this computer cluttered with too much unused garbage and too many programs launching on startup. (I've been working on cleaning it up.) There has been a gradual slowdown as a result. Still, this dramatic slowdown happened all at once.

The computer is a Dell Dimension 4550 that's a few months over three years old. XP (Home) SP-2.

If anyone has any ideas about what's going on and/or what I should check out, I'd certainly appreciate hearing them.

Thank you!



Though Id let you know. in the one picture of the task manager. ctfmon.exe is a keylogger.....

id go to the directory and delete it.

#14 Slomoz

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Posted 12 August 2006 - 01:23 AM

Thanks for pointing out ctfmon.exe, but I think this instance was a legit (but unnecessary) Microsoft application involved with the Language Bar and Office XP. Anyway, I worked my way through the control panel to where I could "Turn Off Advanced Text Services" and ctfmon.exe disappeared from Task Manager.

#15 Enthusiast

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Posted 12 August 2006 - 09:31 AM

Grisoft acquired Ewido and is now offering Ewido Free, which I installed last week and like alot.

This is not the free trial program it used to be but actual freeware, although some functions like auto-update which comes in the paid version will disable in 30 days, but it still is a very useful ap, and like AVG which is another Grisoft offering, it seems to be a superior product.

http://free.grisoft.com/doc/20/lng/us/tpl/v5

Edited by Enthusiast, 12 August 2006 - 09:34 AM.





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