Help with computer performance

By Reckoning ยท 17 replies
Jan 29, 2011
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  1. My computer has been running very slow recently and I can't figure out why.
    Considering my hardware AND a fresh windows install I just can't pin point it.
    I'm running core 2 duo 2.33, 3 gig ram, 500gb 7200 rpm HDD. I've always found backing up personal data and a fresh windows install makes life all good again so I did just that after things started slowing down yet even after the fresh install things are still running very poorly. Right after the fresh install I went with AVG free antivirus and very bare things on startup yet it takes way longer than normal for the computer to even start up.
    After awhile (and I mean awhile) things start performing much better but it's painful waiting. When I first open firefox and try to just go to a bookmark its very slow yet after sitting through the slowness for about 5 min and firefox (or any program I'm running really) works the bugs out things seem to run much better.
    Any suggestions?
  2. Computerpete

    Computerpete TS Rookie Posts: 120

    A couple of questions
    1. what programs did you install besides AVG.
    2.pc or laptop
    3. Have checked to see if there any dust in or around the fan.
    4.have you tried a defrag.
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    The slightly most likely explaination is a failing HDD.

    Not a defrag problem if you reinstalled with a reformat. On the other hand, if you did a 'reinstall in place' I would strongly recommend you run chkdsk /r in a command prompt, and allow it to reboot. If the check comes up with errors, that might cure it.

    Even if there are no errors, download the HDD manufacturers tests and do a full surface test. After that, defrag.

    There are other potential problems worth looking at such as uninstall avg and try another anti-virus such as avast. Dont run two anti-virus at once, dont run an anti-spyware all the time, just a regular check. MS windows defender is a notably able exception though, and I let it run full-time. Check the power suppy, check for overheating, clean dust from the case, check the fans are running. Disable the indexing service - it no use to 99% of people.

    open windows task manager and watch the performance tab. When a PC starts to speed up after 'some time' it is often doing some routine checking at startup that you had no idea was happening. If it is 100% most of the time, switch to the processes tab, click on the cpu header and see what is at the top most of the time. Should be 'system idle proceess' 99%. Anything else is the cause of your problem.

    When you get things working properly, this link might help, although it is a bit basic and may insult your abilties a little.
  4. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    I've installed Windows Live Messanger, Itunes, Firefox, Starcraft2, Ventrilo.
    It's a pc.
    I have recently dusted out the inside of the pc and I have tried a defrag thought I can't see that being the problem this soon after a new install.

    What exactly is a reinstall in place? I ran the chkdsk overnight and in the morning I didn't have any sort of window telling me if there were errors or not.
    I don't think it's an AVG problem I've been using AVG for a long time with no problems. How do you disable index servicing and what am I checking on the power supply? Just that all connections are secure?
    I've ran the performance monitor while running starcraft so my computer was under pressure and the CPU, memory, and disk all spike at times but nothing that would pass as the problem yet about 5 min into a game my comp will practically freeze for a full minute then take another minute to slowly start working smoothly again.

    Thanks for the feedback so far!
  5. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    Found service indexing as a process in task manager.. ended it.
    What does it do?
  6. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    You have 3GB ram so it's not lack of memory. I've used 'itunes' on a friend's pc, and I thought it was slowing the system down, noticeably. It would be useful to know what the pc booted and ran like, with just Windows system installed, (before itunes, and the games were installed.) If the system is freezing for 5 mins, then it's possible the hard drive is hunting for data, but that means it's only going to get worse. If you can run the diagnostics program as supplied by the hard drive maker, it may well show up some faults.
    (Just Google for instance, if a WD HDD, 'western digital diagnostics')
    Does this problem only happen when connected to the 'net?
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,173   +989

  8. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    It ran like this immediately after windows install as well. My thoughts is it HAS to be hardware. I ran Western Digitals diagnostic program it passed both the "quick" and "full" tests. I haven't tried without being connected to the internet, but don't see how that could be the problem.

    Another thing i've noticed just in the past few days is when I'm in a game of starcraft the sound will lag and kind of loop for 5 seconds or so.. don't know if that could help point in the right direction
  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Sound problems in a game and seizing-up video often caused by video card problems - incompatibility, IRQ conflicts

    There are many things people try
    update to latest bios
    update video drivers
    try playing game without sound
    up the fan on the video card
    move the card to another slot
    similar with the PC memory chips
  10. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    >Reckoning~ Going back to when you installed the Windows OS, did you install the chipset driver? If you don't have it, you can find out what it is and the Vendor's name, by installing the program;
    After running it, click on the 'Motherboard' line, get the Vendor's name, and the Chipset model. Then you can go to the makers site ( likely to be intel) and get their site to scan your pc, or you can work you way through.
  11. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    Latest chipset installed.. same issues.
    gbhall.. do you think if it were an IRQ issue or something it would affect overall comp performance?
  12. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Other suggestions

    1. Install Process Explorer
    > Click on CPU column to sort by usage
    > In particular, keep eye on the usage of items labeled Interrupts and System. Report if they keep taking CPU usage (or any other questionably high usage)
    > Minimize PE and notice its small black notification icon in lower right of screen. It shows you a real-time display of CPU usage. (just hover your mouse over icon to see Current Usage and which process is taking most of the usage) so you can keep a real-time "eye" on CPU as you're running

    2. Don't recall if you said it, but did you check on your Virtual Memory setting? Set Initial Size = Maximum Size = virtual memory size you pick
  13. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Has always been my understanding that the answer is YES.

    see here

    Let me describe the method of fault-finding when you are pretty sure it is hardware. Basically, you disconnect every peripheral you have except the HDD, keyboard, mouse and monitor (yes, that DOES mean disconnect the CD/DVD/Printer). Test. Gradually add the components back one by one, test after each addition.

    If the problem is still there at bare bones, or if none of the additions clearly causes the trouble, it might be HDD or video card or mouse or keyboard. The best test for those is REPLACEMENT.
  14. rmpbklyn

    rmpbklyn TS Rookie

    use treesize free, which will show a chart of the disk space, it shows many of the hidden folders also
    try these tips:
    cleaning the hardrive:

    services and startup changes
  15. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    Installed Process explorer.. Interrupts seems to jump back and forth between 1.5 - 3.5 in the CPU column.
    Yes I need to start swapping out hardware and see if I can find what it is. What do you guys think about it being my power supply possibly struggling to power video card?
    I bought a different (better) video card about 8 months ago and seems seemed to be fine but maybe it's "just enough" to handle the video card and over time it's starting to struggle? Hoping I can get my hands on a more powerful PSU and see if performance increases.
    Tree size is a cool program but I'm at 40% Windows.. 30% Program Files.. because I have an external HDD I keep most stuff on that I don't need immediate access to.
  16. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Here's some various thoughts (and i'm in no way an far from a hardware person so you can also take what i say about IRQ conflicts with a grain of salt)

    It's easy to see IRQ assignments. It's also normal for devices to share IRQ assignments. i think (have the impression.. certainly don't know) that IRQ issues and conflicts were much more an issue in the earlier days of XP.. not so much now with ACPI BIOS and Windows managed IRQ assignments (btw.. are you running XP SP3?)

    To see IRQ assignments, open Device Manager, click View->Resources by Type. You can see i have several devices sharing IRQ 16

    Ocassional spikes of 1.5 - 3% doesn't sound like lot tho still might be indicative of some low level background acitivity going on. (As I seldom see any Interrupt CPU on my machine) and typically Interrupts at 20% - 30% and more would be problematic). You can google something like process explorer identify interrupts. What about overall CPU usage? Is it only occasional spikes? Spikes at a regular time interval? How about CPU usage of System process?

    Safe Mode
    Try booting into Safe Mode with Networking. Do you still have the same performance issue?

    Windows will constantly index your hard drives. Tho it;s supposed to do so only when the CPU is otherwise idle. Still, i find it of little value as it only saves time when you (occasionally) do a Search. I turn the indexing service off myself (Start->Run, enter services.msc scroll to Indexing Service and disable it

    Virtual Memory
    Have you double checked your VM settings? (to make sure you're not doing a lot of disk swapping)

    Event Logs
    Post a copy of recent Windows Event Log entries. [post=936481]See here[/post] just in case there may be a clue

    /* EDIT */
    Clean boot testing
    One more thing i'll add into this post.. if performance in Safe Mode seems good i'd also try an XP "clean boot"
  17. Reckoning

    Reckoning TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 96

    This was a reading during one of my "freezing" moments

    Attached Files:

  18. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    This suggesta your game 'Starcraft' is loading the CPU very heavily. I have no idea if 50+ is usual for this game, but if it is not there are likely answers to your problem as follows

    (a) your video card does not seem to be taking much load off the CPU. You may need a more recent/capable video card to do what you want.
    (b) your video card may be set up in such a way as to strain it's resources - could be set to too high a resolution, or refresh rate
    (b) your video card and CPU may be drawing more current than the CPU is capable of reliably supplying

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