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System Sluggish And Slow


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#1 dazedandconfused

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 01:21 PM

I'm running Windows XP5.1 (Build 2600) Service Pack 2 on a Compaq Presario 6000 AMD Athlon XP 2100+ with 480 MB of RAM. I have two user accounts set up on it. I'm using IE6 with SP2.

I've been experiencing a slow system for a while now, and it seems to be getting continually slower, and I can't figure out why. A friend told me it might be memory - either not enough of it - or not allocated correctly. I don't know squat about memory issues...and don't know if I can add more, or where the allocation is set, or even how to tell if that's the problem.

Thus far to troubleshoot this I've done the following:
Updated my Norton Anti-Virus software and did a complete scan which came back clean
Updated Ad-Aware and done a complete scan which came back clean
Updated Spy-Sweeper and done a complete scan (it found 17 low-risk ad-cookies, which I deleted)
Loaded/ran What's Running and everything seemed to be OK
Loaded/ran Statup Inspector for Windows and everything seemed to be OK
Confirmed that I was up-to-date on Microsoft patches
Loaded/ran System Spec (so I could tell you what I have)
Loaded/ran aumha.org parasite scan which came back clean
Loaded/ran Windows Memory Diagnostic which came back clean
Deleted every temp and tmp file I could find, as well as Windows uninstalls and setup files
Deleted unnessary applications (2), but do have traces of old Earthlink files I can't seem to get rid of.
Did Disk Cleanup to compress old files
Emptied the Recycle Bins
Ran a chkdsk _F which came back clean
Defrag'd the hard disk even though it said it didn't need it. 82% of my 74.5GB hard drive is free.

I've been pretty diligent about housekeeping, at least the things I know to do (learned here) so it's not like my system was a pile of crap to begin with or anything like that.

The Memory info results from System Spec this morning are:
Physical Total 480MB
Physical Free 114 MB
Page File Total 1126 MB
Page File Free 775MB
Virtual Total 2048 MB
Virtual Free 2011 MB
Memory Utilization 76%
Allocation Granularity 65,536 bytes
Application Address Range 00010000 - 7FFEFFFF
Page Size 4,096 bytes

I have no clue what any of this means. All I know is that my system is annoyingly slow.

What else can/should I do? Is there anything else I can provide that would help you to help me? I've tried to follow all the advice I've found in your Tutorials, and have reached and exceeded my level of competence.

Thanks for your assistance.

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#2 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 02:01 PM

You probably actually have 512 MB of RAM (memory) installed on your computer. This is usually plenty of RAM for the average XP user, although if you are working with pictures or video you may need more.

There is another side to the equation, however, and that is having too many programs running at once. You see, programs open up into RAM. If you run out of room in RAM then you will experience big slow downs on your computer. So, adding RAM would help, but so would shutting down some programs. For most people this means telling programs not to auto start when you start up Windows. Keep the autostarting programs to a minimum, thereby freeing up your RAM to do what you need it to.

Go to:

Start > Run

type "msconfig" (without the quotes) Click OK

Click on the Startup tab. Here you will find a list of programs that start when you boot your computer. Uncheck any you don't want to start when you boot up. (You still will be able to start programs through their shortcuts or by going to Start > All Programs. Unchecked programs just won't start automatically at bootup and won't be running in the background.)

You can Google entries or use the Bleeping Computer Startup Database HERE to research the various startup entries, as sometimes they can be a bit cryptic.

~~~~~~~~~

There may be more to your situation, however. There could be hidden software running on your computer. Malicious software, such as viruses, adware, spyware, and the like. You must be sure that your computer is free of this type of software altogether.

Another thing that can eat up resources on your computer and make it run slow is corrupted software. Such as your Antivirus being corrupt, or AOL software, or HP software. (those are some common ones). Do you receive any error messages when the computer starts up? This might indicate a problem with some software.
ALBERT FRANKENSTEIN
I'M SO SMART IT'S SCARY!


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


#3 dazedandconfused

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 07:10 PM

Frankenstein, thanks for the quick reply.

I really don't do anything with pictures or videos, other than to view the occasional jpg.

I also don't really run very many programs concurrently, at least I don't think so (perhaps I'm not aware of how many "too many" are). I typically have Norton and Spysweeper runnnig, as well as IE and maybe Word or Excel. I don't do interactive games or any of the things like that which I've heard are real hogs. Really a pretty benign user...just doing email and 'net research and word processing. That's one of the reasons why it seems odd to have it be so slow. We do have two desktops, and typically my husband and I are both "logged on" and just do a Switch User when the other one wants the machine. But, we've done this for years and it doesn't seem to have been an issue.

I'm not sure how to "be sure that your computer is free of this type of software altogether" - - other than taking the steps I've already done. Can you recommend something I should be doing in addition to them?

I've used msconfig and Startup Inspector for Windows, and really don't have much auto-starting. I have Norton, Spysweeper, some Adobe components, Soundmap, and a couple of Compaq components. They all seemed to be necessary (at least as far as I know).

I completely power-down every night and start clean in the morning. I don't receive any errors when the system starts up. I wish I did, it would at least give me somewhere to look for what's causing the problem.

Any additional advice would be most welcome!!!

#4 rubiconeye

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 07:36 PM

use msconfig as albert suggested, only this time untick every box except your antivirs and firewall. restart computer.

if computer now has regained it's old zest, go back to msconfig, and one at a time re-tick a box until you find the computer slowed right down again, then you know the last box you re-ticked is probably causing the problem, therefore uninstall it and try a fresh install of the programme and see if it solves problem.

failing above, download AVG free, disconnect from internet, uninstall norton entirely, norton has been known to cause problems with some pcs, then install AVG connect to net and download latest updates.

if problem solves now, then you know it was norton, if still the same, reverse process above and reinstall norton if you want!

sometimes norton can be a chore to remove, if you have problems, go to symantic site and download 'norton removal tool'

good luck

#5 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 03:52 AM

Another idea is that perhaps it is not a RAM issue, but you have some corrupted software that is eating up the processor resources.

When your computer is running slow, go to:

Ctrl + Alt + Del

This will bring up the Task Manager. Click on the Performance tab. Tell us what the average CPU usage is (in percentages). If you are seeing 100 percent, or some other high number, then click on the Processes tab and look under the CPU column for high numbers. Let us know what processes are running high numbers.

If this does not take care of it, then I will instruct you how to search for malicious software.
ALBERT FRANKENSTEIN
I'M SO SMART IT'S SCARY!


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


#6 dazedandconfused

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:20 PM

Albert

Last night I'd started to do just that - check to see if I could figure out what was scarfing resources, though I'm very unfamiliar with this sort of thing. I couldn't see much in the way of CPU useage, but did see that ccApp was the number one memory user. Since I've read a lot about Norton getting corrupted, I went ahead this morning and uninstalled all of it and reinstalled it. Don't know yet if that did anything or not.

On your advice, I went back to the Monitor screen this morning. I may be doing something wrong, because if I look at the graph under the Performance tab and see it go up to the top limit, then click on the Processes tab to see what is in use, the use has dropped back down again. Is there a way to go backwards in time to see what it was? From watching it, it seems to spike and drop and spike and drop again. From watching the Processes screen instead, it appears that I have a number of svchost.exe files running, and they shoot up to 95%, 98%, 97%, etc., then drop back down again.

I tried to do some research on svchost - but it's a bit confusing to a rookie. Some things say that it may indicate a worm, which sounds scary. I did a search to see where they were stored, and found the following:

svchost.exe files in:
....WINDOWS/system32
....WINDOWS/ServicePackFiles/i386
....WINDOWS/system32/dllcache

SVCHOST.EX_ file in c:\i386

SVCHOST.EXE-3530F672.pf in c:WINDOWS\Prefetch

Do these look legitimate?

Thanks so much for your help. I'm over my head... :thumbsup:

#7 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:32 PM

What you are witnessing in terms of CPU usage is normal. Even starting up the Task Manager will make the CPU work for a couple of seconds and then if it goes back down to a low number, such as 2% or something like that, that is just fine and normal.

I was wondering if it was pegging at 100% and staying there. This is the indicator that something has become corrupted. Also, you must look at the CPU usage WHILE YOU ARE EXERIENCING YOUR ISSUE. This is important, because it may be an intermittant problem?

What is service host? There are little 'programs' or parts of programs called services that run on your computer. Windows has little envelopes called Service Hosts that it puts these services in to. Once one envelope fills up it will start up another one. So it is common and normal to see several instances of svchost running on a healthy computer. It is also possible that something inside one of these instances of svchost is malicious. But from what you have indicated, I don't think that is the case, at least not yet.
ALBERT FRANKENSTEIN
I'M SO SMART IT'S SCARY!


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


#8 dazedandconfused

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 01:41 PM

Any recommendations on what I should try next? I've been keeping the Task Manager minimized, and can see on my toolbar when it is going up. Should I just continue to do this until I hit one of those "show stopper" times?

Is there an easy way to see if there is a dirty-bad-nasty hiding in one of those instances of svchost?

Thanks!

#9 rubiconeye

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 06:28 PM

"Is there an easy way to see if there is a dirty-bad-nasty hiding in one of those instances of svchost?"

start, run, type cmd and enter,

then type at the prompt 'tasklist /svc' without the quotes, and you should see a list including the different services used by each instance of svchost.

if you think any suspicious, check them on google, or post back here.

#10 buddy215

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 06:50 PM

please read this article on Spy Sweeper:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1912436,00.asp

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss

A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”


#11 Orange Blossom

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 10:27 PM

start, run, type cmd and enter, then type at the prompt 'tasklist /svc'


If you are using XP Home, tasklist is not available.

Orange Blossom :thumbsup:
Help us help you. If HelpBot replies, you MUST follow step 1 in its reply so we know you need help.

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#12 dazedandconfused

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 12:56 PM

Thanks to everyone for their assistance. My machine is behaving nicely again! :thumbsup:

It seems to have been a couple of things. I completely uninstalled Norton Internet Security/AntiVirus (thanks Ribiconeye for the info on how to totally uninstall their stuff) :flowers: I then reinstalled it, which seemed to make a difference...but not enough. Then I uninstalled my "new" version of Webroot Spysweeper and reinstalled the older version. Man-oh-man what a difference it made! Thanks, Buddy, for the article on it - I hadn't seen that before. :) And thanks, Orange Blossom, for the follow-up on the tasklist attempt. I thought it was me messing up. :inlove:

Those changes, in conjunction with the clean-ups suggested by Frankenstein to the startups, as well as all the other housekeeping, have made a big difference in the performance. And, it's nice to know that I don't need to fork out additional $$ for more memory either. :cool:

In addition, I've learned a lot through this experience, and thanks to the tutorials and free utilities documented by B.C., I now have better tools for the future. You guys are awesome!! :trumpet: I'm on my way to PayPal to make a donation.

#13 buddy215

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 01:25 PM

You are welcome! Glad everything has worked out for you. I suspect Spy Sweeper and Java will have this problem worked out someday, so I would check their site every month or so.

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss

A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”





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