Computer slow down when network or harddisk in use

By Ckorban
Jul 23, 2010
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  1. Hello all, hopefully ya'll will be able to help me with this problem before I chuck my computer out of the window...

    Problem:
    Mouse becomes laggy as crap, COMPLETE computer slow down, during specific times:

    When this happens:
    Whenever ANY download happens, be it steam update, chrome download, or utorrent torrent. Today steam was preparing to install CS (doing a fresh install), and before the download process it said it was configuring local files and what not, so I think it is ANY time the harddrive is being used.

    When I first saw this:
    I was running vista on the same computer. I bought a new harddrive: Hitachi 2TB 7200 RPM 32mb cache, and installed windows 7 fresh on it as my system drive. I did NOT have this problem in vista. So I think it is either my new harddrive or windows 7.

    What I've tried so far:
    Reinstalling everything except windows 7, REALLY want to avoid that.

    Next step:
    Wanted to see if there was any way to monitor HD acitivity, hopefully to pinpoint the root cause of problem.

    Thanks!
  2. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,291   +44

    Slow-downs like this, especially during downloads is usually a symptom that your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall are doing their job, and examining in depth everything going into your PC.

    This symptom depends very strongly on how your anti-malware is configured, and indeed, any noticeable slow-down would very strongly indicate a poor choice of anti-malware (some are more notorious than others for imposing heavy loads), or one that is not fully compatible with your hardware, or one that has over-strong settings, or one that has actual faulty installation that could be cured by a reinstallation.

    Just on the off-chance that you are actually running more than one anti-virus - dont !

    You could try starting windows task manager, where there are various things you can monitor. Most likely to help would be the processes tab. What exactly grabs all the processing time when doing a download?. Then find out what that process is.
  3. Ckorban

    Ckorban TechSpot Member Topic Starter Posts: 71

    Here's the thing, CPU usage and memory usage are almost nonexistant when the slow down happens. In other words, nothing is taking up the CPU and/or memory.

    I am running Eset Smart Security 4.2, I'll try to kill that and see if that works.
  4. Ckorban

    Ckorban TechSpot Member Topic Starter Posts: 71

    Actually, I just realized something with further inspection. In task manager, in my processes tab, I don't see anything increase crazily in CPU, maybe utorrent or steam (i just tested with both) up to 20-30% or what not. However, in the performance tab, I see my CPU is pretty much at 100% usage. The first core is at a full 100% and the other 3 keep climbing.

    I also completely stopped and uninstalled Eset Security before doing this. Is there any better way to monitor resource usage and try to pinpoint whats happening?
  5. Ckorban

    Ckorban TechSpot Member Topic Starter Posts: 71

    Alright, I just uninstalled anything antivirus/firewall related and I restarted. It seems to be fine now. I will update this after some time of running various stuff, to see if it compounds over uptime increase
  6. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,986   +66

    You can use RamMap from MS System Internals, which is pretty nifty tool to monitor RAM usage by various processes/software/drivers etc. Best thing about it is it also gives you summary of all the files being loaded in the memory as well.

    As you pointed out that there was nothing suspicious in your process tab while the processor's core was being fully utilized @ 100%, I'd suspect there may be some malware/virus related issues. Regards
  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,291   +44

    I can't be sure how MS implement multiple cores in Win7, so there is a possibility that if one application (say utorrent) starts a process. it could be divided up amongst 4 cores, so when you view 'processes', only 25% of the CPU appears to be in use. Yet one of the multiple processes spawned by utottent could still be running one core at 100%.

    That seems to be an explaination of what you have described.

    Then that one process choking one core is still required to release control to other cores so that the other things like mouse movement etc get their share of CPU cycles. That is not happening in your case.

    Therefore, I suggest one of two things. Either the process that uses the processor to 100% is badly-written for multi-processor use, or there is malware of some sort associated with download usage. Clever malware, unfortunately, is quite capable of running without appearing as a process at all.....I concurr with Archean, good idea to scan for malware.

    If nothing turns up, then maybe it has to do with the 2Tb drive after all. Is that partitioned, or is it all one huge C: drive?
  8. Ckorban

    Ckorban TechSpot Member Topic Starter Posts: 71

    It's one huge C: drive.
    Here's the thing. This happened once before and I blamed AVG. I removed it and I was fine. I installed Eset Security and it was fine as well up until recently. Now I removed that and restarted, I am fine again, but trying Eset Nod, not security, this time. It seems to be doing awesome, but I am not very optimistic that it will last. I've run so many online and offline scans, both virus and malware in general, and nothing came up.

    It literally happened when I switched from Vista on another drive to Win7 on this 2TB drive..
  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,291   +44

    Hmmm... try HD tune www.hdtune.com/ which will enable you to watch your disk transfer rate over a period of time, and do error scans.

    I always recommend partitioning large drives into smaller special-purpose partitions for many reasons. Especially I always recommend having a separate partition for drive images (I use Acronis True Image). This is the ultimate backup against malware or other corruption.

    Remember you also need an off-line backup of the backup !
  10. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,986   +66

    I agree with gbhall's comment about dividing larger drives into smaller more manageable sized partitions, e.g. a 2TB drive can easily be divided into say 5 partitions, i.e. 400GB each, which would be more appropriate IMHO. Also take in to account Vista / Win7 search indexing function, which can slow down stuff a bit for a while, but once the indexing has been done, things pretty much return to normal.

    I think it would be good idea to go through 8-steps of Malware and Virus Removal Forum, and post your logs for analysis over there.


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