First off, I'm not a computer person so some threads are over my head. But I thought I would try getting help here because I have no idea what else to do. I'm in the process of sending resumes, so the timing for my computer to break couldn't be worse. I hope I explain this correctly. This has been an ongoing problem for about 2 weeks. I've tried a lot of different things that I've read online. Nothing seems to fix the issue.
Sony Vaio laptop - Windows Vista Home Premium
Problem: It randomly started having major problems even loading one page. I didn't make any changes previously. I was getting a "host" error message saying something about not being able to connect a program to the host. (Sorry I don't have the exact wording. I'm using a library computer to post this.)
Checking for problems: I did a system restore but the only date option I had was a couple days previous. Under updates, it showed the last Windows Update failed. That "seemed" to perhaps start the problem. I'm not 100% sure about that though. I wanted to "set" a new restore date to maybe two weeks previous, but it wouldn't let me set my own date.
I had expired trials of both Avaste and Malwarebytes. So downloaded new trials and ran both. No viruses were found. Malwarebytes found a bunch of junk but nothing critical.
I shut off the router and let it sit for 30 minutes.
I installed CCleaner and ran that.
I also moved some of my own files to an external hard drive to clear space and also just in case this laptop dies. My hard drive was in the red zone before so I cleared up a lot of space. This "seemed" to have helped in that the files were being moved faster as time went on. I spent a few hours doing this.
Memory: My CPU and physical memory in the task manager were always high even without anything running. I ran the msinfo32 and it said installed RAM was 2GB and physical memory available was 700 MBs.
After I cleaned up and started "ending processes" in the task window, the computer would work for a couple days here and there. The host error messaged stopped coming up. I was able to open pages and things went back to normal. But then it stops working again. Seems to be on a 2 days on/1 day off cycle.
After speaking with a Geek squad guy, he told me it probably had a faulty RAM disk. Since Best Buy can't work on Vista anymore, he told me to order it from Crucial. I decided to try that since it was only $30. I installed new RAM yesterday and that seemed to work. I was able to open multiple windows and load all pages. Msinfo32 said there was 1GB physical memory. But today I'm back to square one. Msinfo32 says there's 400MB physical memory. The computer won't load anymore.
Troubleshooting: I can't get into Windows Defender to disable any programs from start-up. I tried getting in as Admin but couldn't get that to work either. Problem is when my computer is in "dead" mode, I can't really do anything. What worked a couple times was opening task manager right away and ending processes. Then I can "sometimes" load one web page if I decrease the size to 50%. Sometimes, when I load one page, after a while, it will start to be able to load others. It's all very inconsistent. It seems like there's something running that's sucking up all the memory. But no apps are shown running.
In the task manager, when I click on processes by "all" users, there is one that takes up a lot of CPU. It's called something like "amount of idle time used in processes" or something like that. (Again, sorry I don't have exact wording.)
Most recent actions: Last night, I ran the check disk tool. It only found one "bad cluster" and fixed it. Still no changes to computer.
As of right now, it's in dead mode. I will start it up later and open the task manager to end all the processes that I can. Then hopefully I will be able to load one page again and start the whole cycle again.
1) On the bottom right screen where the icons are shown, I've noticed that when the computer is working well, there is a red x on the network icon. When it's blue, like it should be, that's usually when I have the problems. I disabled that icons from showing up thinking maybe it's something related to that, but it didn't work.
2) I can't download any programs at this point. I had a Skype interview, so tried to download that but it didn't work. I was surprised CCleaner was able to be downloaded. At this point, the "download manager" doesn't seem to work.
3) Only error message now is "Windows can't check for updates" and under Start "too many programs to display on start menu" or something.
Thanks in advance for any advice you could offer me. I will try to respond as soon as possible but I'm having to use the library computers, so I'm limited in how much time I'm allowed per day.