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Help With Unreasonably Laggy Laptop

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#1 Corkscrewed


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Posted 18 January 2007 - 04:03 AM

I posted this initially in the Malware forum, along with a HiJack This log, but OldTimer said that my computer's clean and suggested that I post here, since a lot of my troubles seem related to audio and video. So here it is:

I've been having trouble with a laggy laptop, and after asking around, a friend suggested that I use HiJack This and post a log at a reputable forum (he recommended this one). Below is a summary of my problem.

My laptop has been unusually and illogically slow quite often lately. The problem first arose in Europe three months ago but went away after a while. Essentially, my computer would lag on basic actions that I know should not (and never had before) bogged down my computer. Things like viewing a YouTube video on Firefox, or watching any video on Windows Media Player. Now, however, my computer seems to be lagging all the time, to the point where clicking between tabs on Firefox creates a delay of several seconds.

- When watching a video on YouTube, the video lags and skips, and audio even sometimes gets choppy.
- When watching a video on Windows Media Player (especially .wmv files; less so with .mpeg files), video becomes choppy, although audio seems to hold up ok.
- When using Photoshop, type does not render fully until I finish typing AND click on another icon to set the text.
- When using Adobe Premiere, video and audio is choppy and skippy when previewing the production.
- When viewing photos on Windows Media and Fax Viewer (which is like the simplest XP program ever), there is noticeable lag time (a few seconds) before next photo loads.
- Programs take twice as long as usual (or longer) to open.

I've noticed that this is because my CPU Usage often shoots up near 100% when my computer starts lagging. I understand why the lag occurs, since maxed out CPU usage typically leads to that. What I fail to understand is why it's getting up so high in the first place. Something like WinAmp or Windows Media Player often goes into the 50% range simply from playing an MP3. The same applies to Firefox. I know for a fact that under normal operation, they should rarely exceed 10%. Somehow, my computer is using up resources much more than it used to, and I'm not sure why.

Things I've tried to fix this problem that have not worked:
- System Restore to a date when computer was more stable.
- Scanning computer for viruses with Norton Anti-Virus.
- Scanning computer for spyware/malware with Spybot S&D and Adaware.
- Defragging lap top hard drive.
- Defragging external hard drives.
- Deleting excess/unneeded files off my hard drive (this shouldn't even matter, since it's only a little over half full--I currently have 30.9 GB used out of 52.9 GM available--but my computer has mysteriously gotten slower before after I passed the halfway mark on my hard drive usage).
- Clearing Temporary Internet Files and Internet History (not that the second should really do anything, but anyway).

Computer Specs:
Model is a Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop
3.2 GHZ Pentium IV processor
512 MB RAM
Windows XP Pro

Short of reformatting my computer (again), is there anything else I can try to fix this? Maybe some utility or something, or another trick I haven't thought of. This problem doesn't actually seem to harm my computer in anyway, but it's extremely annoying, because it makes work very slow. I don't want to be stuck with a computer that takes fifteen minutes to save an Illustrator file (this happened last semester in France), or anything like that.

Also, I reformatted my laptop back in late August. Before then, I had gone over two years without reformatting, and had not ever experienced any lag problems as inexplicable as this (where even basic functions were using up way too much CPU processing power). I don't think my computer can go to crap in less than half a year after a reformat, but I could be wrong.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated! :thumbsup:

P.S. I just realized to clarify: typically, my computer has seemed fine the first few minutes after I turn it on. Then, the lag seems to set in, mostly when I'm using Adobe programs or watching videos. The lag between tabbing occurs at the worst cases, but not all the time.

A friend (not from this site) has suggested that it may have to do with not having enough RAM, but I found that odd because this had never been a problem before. However, he pointed out that Windows grows with the updates with time, so while my RAM may have been enough six months ago (before I reformatted), updates since then may have pushed the computer over the edge.

Just thought I'd see if that's a viable cause or not. :flowers:

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#2 fozzie


    aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 04:21 AM

Some questions :

Which codecs do you have installed ( MY COMPUTER RIGHTCLICK PROPPERTIES HARDWARE AUDIO/VIDEO codecs)

Can you check whilst playing a video which processes are running and are lurking your processing speed.

I see you have Norton Installed which is a real "speed taker " If not paid for you might want to consider taking on a combination out of the programs in my sig. I use Zone Alarm(free) firewall AVG Anti virus and -Antispyware in combination with Adaware Spybot S&D and Superantispyware

Running both the teatimer of Spybot and Norton will kill you in terms of CPU usage

Which WMP are you using?

I see you have undertaken some of the below steps. Please go over them and see what you have midded out and post back any result/

Please follow these steps :

• Defrag your system. Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when a file is opened. Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders on the hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. This speeds up reading and writing to the disk. Read "The Importance of Disk Defragmentation" for instructions.

• Check for disk errors by running CHKDSK. CHKDSK can be run from the Recovery Console, the command prompt or through the Windows GUI.
To run chkdsk from the Win XP GUI see these instructions.
To run chkdsk from the command prompt see these instructions.
To run chkdsk from the Recovery Console see these instructions.
The problem with running CHKDSK from Win XP is that it will not check files that are being used by Windows. Using chkdsk in the Recovery Console with the /r switch is a way to resolve this.

• Check for damaged, altered or missing critical system files by running the System File Checker. If SFC discovers that a protected file has been damaged, altered or missing, it restores the correct version of the file from the cache folder. You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to run sfc and it may ask you to insert your XP Installation CD so have it available.

• Clean up your hard drive by removing unused programs and transferring old data, pictures, music files to a CD or an external hard drive. When you have moved/saved the files you want to keep, run Disk Cleanup and let it scan your system for files to remove. "Don’t clean out the Prefetch folder" - This is a common myth that will not improve performance.

• Check for any unnecessary running services. If you have a typical installation, many services are configured as "automatic"; that is, they start automatically when the system starts or when the service is called for the first time. Use "Black Viper's Services Configuration" to help fine tune this area.

• Check for any unnecessary applications loading at startup when Windows boots with MSConfig. Some startup programs are necessary so be careful what you disable. If you are unsure what any of the startup entries are or if they are safe to disable, then search one of the following Startup Databases:
Startup Programs Database
StartupList Index

Note: MSConfig.exe is a troubleshooting utility used to diagnose system configuration issues. Although it works as a basic startup manager which allows you to enable/disable auto-start programs, msconfig should not be used routinely to disable startup programs.

A better alternative is to use a startup manager. If you have have Spybot S&D 1.4 installed, launch it, go to Mode and select Advanced. Then go to Tools, select System Startups. You will be provided with a list of programs that load when Windows starts. If you untick an entry it will no longer run at startup. This will allow you to experiment and see how your system performs with any of them disabled. Other startup managers you can download and use for free are Startup Control Panel, Autoruns and Starter by CodeStuff.

• Remove any third party "Memory Manager" or "Optimizer". Windows XP memory management was designed to make the best use of Ram and these memory management utilities defeat that purpose. They push applications out of RAM into the pagefile, creating holes in the RAM and by doing so, slow down your computer.

• Disable some visual effects. While visual embellishments that may be attractive, they don’t do anything else for you. Disabling some of them frees up system resources and makes the operating system perform better. Right click My Computer, choose > Properties > Advanced, click on "Settings" under performance...UNcheck all the visual effects, except for the last three. Click "Apply", then "OK", then "OK" again. Then right click your desktop and choose > Properties > Appearance > "Effects...Uncheck the first two boxes and hit "OK".

EDIT : For viewing online content I use FF in combination with Mediaplayer connectivity Klickerdeklick

Edited by fozzie, 18 January 2007 - 04:25 AM.

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