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Pc Suddenly Very Sluggish, No Obvious Reason Why


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#1 richy75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 11:34 AM

My PC suddenly went very sluggish about 4 or 5 days ago. I've been using Photoshop a lot and thought that maybe I was just trying to do too much with too small a swap file. I deleted loads of stuff, did a scandisk overnight, ran a complete virus check using the latest Trend Micro defintions, ran Spybot Search & Destroy, ran Ad-Aware, ran CWShredder.... none of them brought up a single error. In the past when I've experienced similar problems I've usually found something and removing it has brought full speed back once more! I've even uninstalled Photoshop plus a few other programs and I'm still getting really bad performance issues with everything I run.

The most obvious symptoms are the top part of an active window will go from blue with text to just plain white for a while and isn't clickable whilst I'm trying to do something; for instance in Photoshop it was doing it when I was trying to rotate an image, or before it brought up the save image dialog box etc.

Another more obvious symptom of when it's stuggling is when Winamp and any other audio stutters very badly nearly every time I try to save a file or do anything that would involve using the processor in the slightest. It's never done this before, I've been able to have several applications running simultaneously and the worst it might do is stop playing for a few seconds, I've never had it stutter before like it was having problems "streaming" the audio from wherever.

I've used Performance tab in Windows Task Manager to see if the CPU is being overloaded and the worst I've seen it get is from about 6% up to 55% but no more than that. I can't say that the Swap File (or is it Page File nowadays?) seems too overloaded either.

Not sure if this covers everything but my spec is as follows:

Windows XP Home Edition, Service Pack 2
Pentium 4 3.06GHz
512MB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200
PIONEER DVD-RW DVR-106D
SONY DVD-ROM DDU1612

I hope I've included enough info to explain the problem but if you're able to help in any way or need more information then please let me know.

Thanks in advance :thumbsup:

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#2 dc3

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 12:12 PM

The sudden slow down does make one want to suspect an infection, I would like to suggest that you try two other programs, Asquared, and CCleaner, they are both freeware. Try running these in safe mode, you generally will have better results scanning in the safe mode since safe mode disables most drivers and running programs.

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#3 richy75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 05:42 PM

OK, thanks for your advice. I've tried both of those in safe mode and they found a few other minor things but looking at what they found they didn't seem too dangerous / important really, more like tracking cookies.

Rebooted and just tried a few programs and the slow speed is still there unfortunately. It's sort of like a bottle-neck effect because, for instance, Photoshop seems fine for some of the time and then running a command which has taken about 5 seconds the last couple of times suddenly takes about 30 seconds instead! And the stuttering in Winamp still kicks in pretty much whenver I try and open a new explorer window or launch an application. The screen also takes a little while to update when this happens.

Any other suggestions that I could try? I'm beginning to wonder if a reinstall of Windows etc is the only way but that's going to take ages with all the stuff already on my machine. My concern is that the issue might somehow be hardware related? The machine is 3 years old and gets used a lot but on the whole it was fine up until a few days ago. I've never opened up the case or tinkered inside and it hasn't moved off my desk for a couple of years so I don't think I've messed it up that way at least!

#4 TheTerrorist_75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 05:51 PM

When is the last time you ran Disk Cleanup and defragged?
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#5 richy75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 05:59 PM

A while ago. I'm going to run a defrag tonight whilst I'm asleep because it takes absolutely ages. There's no harm in trying it, obviously, and it did cross my mind but I can't see that it would effect the computer that much - the sluggish behaviour has really kicked in very suddenly and hasn't been a gradual thing. I've been running Photoshop with about 150mb of free space for ages and I've never had any problems. I've got over 5Gb free on drive C now and it's worse than it's ever been! :thumbsup:

#6 Orange Blossom

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 06:07 PM

A couple thoughts:

How many background applications do you have running?

Do you have automatic scans or downloading occuring when this happens?

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#7 richy75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 06:23 PM

At this particular moment it reckons I've got 49 processes running and 4 applications. I've tried closing down everything that wasn't needed in the taskbar but it's made no difference and everything in there has been installed for ages. If I'd added something recently then I could understand but I really don't think I've changed my setup for ages.

Other than my virus scanner which has been set to "monitor incoming and outgoing files" since Day 1 there shouldn't be anything scanning or automatically updating or anything... that I'm aware of at least! I did wonder if I'd somehow got something checking every single bit of data whenever I do anything but as far as I can see there's nothing that hasn't always been there.

I've tried Moosoft's "The Cleaner" to check for running processes as it has always been handy when killing off rogue stuff before but I can't see anything that looks suspicious.

#8 usasma

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 06:58 PM

512 mB isn't a lot for an XP system - and with a 3+ gHz processor you're not doing yourself any favors. I'd suggest upgrading to 1 gB of RAM.

After operating for a while, XP tends to get full of "garbage" - you can spend a lot of time cleaning the garbage out (and keeping it out), or you can spend a bit on some extra RAM and decrease your "housekeeping" duties.

FWIW - 50+% of the processor being used is a lot. I'd check to see what's using this and see if it's normal (for example, it's normal for an antivirus scan to take up this much - but not for a routine app to do it).

Today my AVG started scanning my system - and a virtual machine that I use also started scanning at the same time. It screwed my system up royally, even down to disrupting the button assignments that I'd programmed into my trackball.

Edited by usasma, 10 December 2006 - 07:00 PM.

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#9 richy75

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 07:59 PM

Yeah, I agree that 512mb isn't really enough RAM, I'm planning on buying some as a Christmas present for my PC! ;)

As for the 50% processsor usage, that's only what it's been showing recently whilst I'm monitoring it. If I'm not trying to open something or rotate something in Photoshop or actively "process" anything then the CPU seems to idle at around 3 - 6%.

Also, I don't know if there's any connection to my current speed fluctuations but I've noticed that my net connection has "choked" on a couple of occasions recently, the last time about 10mins ago! It shows that I'm not uploading or downloading anything and if I was in the middle of something it just conks out enitrely. I can't disconnect either and the only way to get out of it is to pull out the USB cable and then suddenly I get about 3 popups where I've been right-clicking away on the icon to disconnect. The PC then invariably refuses to shutdown properly and just stays on the blue screen saying "Shutting down" (or whatever it says!). If it's any use in terms of trying to give you a better picture, I've got a USB broadband modem and I get a Windows popup asking for username/password whenver I want to connect, I just prefer it that way over a router as I don't really want to be online all the time. I'm not running AOL or anything like that, just my broadband connection and Firefox.

Well, I'm going to do a Disk Cleanup and a defrag now and will see if that helps in the morning but I must admit that I am still a bit in the dark as to why I've had such a sudden hit in terms of performance out of the blue.

#10 usasma

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 09:44 PM

I suspect that it's a network issue (but am far from sure of it). Try a software firewall (like Sygate or ZoneAlarm) and have it monitor the connection. Then look at the log when one of the "chokes" happens.

Also, check your Event Viewer for error messages (Start...Run...type in "eventvwr.msc" (without the quotes) and press Enter). Check all of the categories in the left hand pane (as you click on each one the activity will appear in the right hand pane).
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able.

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