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Author Topic: Computer help please  (Read 4658 times)
John316
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2009, 02:51:58 PM »

We might also get a few clues from you taking a look at the Windows Task Master.   While running in the normal mode, simultaneously press CTL-ALT-DEL keys.    A screen will pop up.   Clicking on the "Processes" tab will show what activities are sucking up CPU time.  The "Performance" tab will show how much of the CPU is being utilized, along with a historical graph.   Some of this might offer some insight.

I might add, when you go to the "Processes" tab, see which process is taking up the most memory. Do that by clicking the "Mem Usage" at the top. On click will sort the processes from the the process that takes the least memory to the greatest. Click another time, and it will then sort to the process that takes the most memory. Right now "firefox.exe" is taking up the most memory. See if you recognize the program, and if not post the name here, and we will see if we recognize it. If not, then, if it was me, I would kill it, and see what happens. The worst it usually does is make you have to reboot Wink. Also tell us who is running the process, whether it is "system" or "operator" or whatever it says.

I agree, that you also need to check how much of you cpu is being used all of the time.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2009, 03:32:39 PM »

OK, Guys I know I will get flamed for this response...


DO NOT Use or Install Norton Internet Security ... It sucks the life out of a computer
and slows everything down. Also causes random scan attempts on floppy drives if you
have them. Use almost anything else and you will have better luck. Norton was great prior to windows XP and they decidedly broke everything after that and couldn't protect you fully because of
serious hacks and holes that let nasty stuff through that is designed to attack Norton directly.

AVG works well for me and CPU usage dropped to 3 to 16 % versus 100% with both
Norton and McAffee packages. Also I have found that Panda works well until you
start getting all of microsofts updates then it breaks down.

The next issue is XP Service pack 3 actually harms more computers than it fixes.
If you can back out service pack 3 down to #2 and only use the security updates
manually as needed. You computer will be faster. On XP you have to remember that
MS is trying to force you to Vista and they have broken updates designed for that purpose
since they want to stop supporting anything but Vista for a FEE !! GREED !!!!!!

Another thing I found is that if you peruse the newsgroups and use such stuff as Grabit
you are liable to have speed issues. If grabit is even installed and not apparently running
it causes CPU usage to hover at 50 to 90% for no apparent reason. Weather bugs and
yahoo/google toolbars also can overload a system even though they don't appear to be
running.. You have to be careful how you install them and make sure that stuff like monitoring
or active content are turned off. Download managers, Bluetooth programs and anything else
that you don't use every day should be uninstalled if possible.

I also realize that the request was for help by remote. However sometimes you only need to
know what to look for that may be causing problems. Much of this is experimentation to figure
out what is causing the problems and remove the junk.

Dave....
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« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2009, 07:01:21 PM »

Dave,

I agree to a point. I have liked the latest Norton 09. They really did a good job with it, however, the some of the older versions do drag a system down.

SP2 also helped my computers, but that is just me.

YMMV

God bless,

John
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2009, 07:28:09 AM »

From Sean

That's a long time in Safe Mode.  Was there a point in time when things opened faster than this?

Go to "My Computer" and right-click.  On the first tab ("General") in the System Properties window, at the bottom, it will tell you your processor speed and amount of RAM.  Let me know what that says.

Speed 1.99 Ghz  RAM 505MB

Then click the Advanced tab and click the Settings button under "Performance."  In the Performance Options window click the Advanced tab; at the bottom find Virtual Memory and click Change.  Make sure the radio button next to "System Managed Size" is selected; if not, select it and click Set.  You will then have to reboot.

DONE

Go back to the Advanced tab on the Performance Options window and tell me what it says the size of the paging file is.

Paging 755MB

Next, close all windows, then double-click My Computer, right click on the C: drive and choose Properties, and tell me how much Used space and Free space you have on the drive.

CAP 74.5 Ghz, USED 37.3 Ghz, Free 37.1 Ghz

Lastly, on the Properties window select the Tools tab, then click Check Now.  Check both boxes and click Continue; it will tell you that the check will be scheduled on next boot.  Reboot the computer and go get dinner -- the disk check may take hours.

Once the computer is fully rebooted, let's shut it down and then restart in Safe Mode to see if Word opens up any faster this time.

Done,  Word opened in about 20 seconds in safe mode,  about 1 minute in normal

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com

I rebooted again and just let it sit for about 30 minutes.  I then took a screen shot of task manager/processes/ sorted by memory use.  It is here:  http://www.temp.lenstudio.com/memprt2.JPG

A couple more things, With a window open on the screen like task manager, if I drag it around, it leaves an "echo" on the screen for a few seconds.
When I close Firefox, it clears the screen quickly but Task manager processes shows it in memory for close to a minute.  This has been happening for a while. I noticed that if I close FF, it won't let me reopen it for a while, says it's still open but not responding.

Thanks,
Len
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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2009, 08:00:02 AM »

here's my suggestions......#1 when was the last time you did a fresh install? all os's get corrupted over time and no amount of fix-it software will help.....#2 if you use the os that came from the manufacturer, most likely it's loaded with garbage programs that all want to run in the back round and every time you un-install one they leave reminates behind. I always re-install my new computers with the full version OS software and notice a considerable increase in speed. #3 your computer is an antique, replace it but not with one that has ms vista (POS) on it, wait for windows 7 or get a newer XP machine off Craigs List. #4 go to the run command on the start button and type msconfig....go to the start-up tab and turn off un needed programs.....#5 do the same thing in the start-up folder in start/programs......#5 go to Black Vipers website http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm and turn off un-needed services. I use AVG antivirus....its free and does a ok job. #6 get windows defender, it's free and works ok..... so much more can be done but I'm not much of a writer...
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« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2009, 08:41:01 AM »

OK, Len.  Your paging files look good, but, I have to say, you have a pretty slow machine; half a gig of RAM in pretty low for modern software.  You might see if you have room for more memory -- going to one or two gigs will probably make a big improvement.

It sounds like running CHKDSK has made an improvement, since you say Word now opens in 20 seconds, vs. 40 last time (unless you actually changed the paging file size, which will also make such an improvement).

If the improvement is due to CHKDSK, then you might be having disk problems.  Right-click on My Computer and choose Manage, expand Event Viewer, and click on Application.  Somewhere in there you should see a log record from CHKDSK from when you ran it; double-click that and see if any errors were reported.  If there are only file system errors that were corrected, then you probably just had some corruption.  But if it indicates any bad sectors that were marked and blocked, your drive might be going bad and should be replaced.

Next, based on your Task Manager output, which, frankly, looks pretty clean,  I would suggest you completely uninstall Norton and see if there is any improvement.  You seem to be running System Works, which is a much bulkier (and slower) package than just NAV.  I would also uninstall LogMeIn, as it, too, has a resident module that is probably slowing things down, and, again, it is unnecessary, as remote help is built into Windows.

Lastly, I see you are running Carbonite.  This is a machine-killer on an older system such as yours.  Carbonite constantly runs in the background scavenging the disk for new files, which may account for the constant disk access you reported.  (The A-drive attempts, though, are more likely Norton.)  I'm not going to tell you to ditch it, but if the other suggestions don't get us where we need to be, I will suggest we turn it off temporarily through the Skip Driver mechanism.

Let's see what's going on with the disk and where we get with removing Norton before going too much farther.

-Sean
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« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2009, 09:15:55 AM »

... #1 when was the last time you did a fresh install? all os's get corrupted over time and no amount of fix-it software will help


Wow, that's a pretty radical suggestion.  While what you say is true, this is really a case of the cure possibly being worse than the disease.  I don't know about you, but it takes me anywhere from 30 to 40 hours to reinstall and reconfigure an entire system from scratch.  I have hundreds of applications and a lifetime of data.

Sometimes, this is the best way to fix such a problem, but I consider it a last resort.  Moreover, if you are going to undergo the pain of reloading everything from scratch, you might as well go out and buy a new computer, and get the benefit of better hardware at the same time.

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.....#2 if you use the os that came from the manufacturer, most likely it's loaded with garbage programs that all want to run in the back round and every time you un-install one they leave reminates behind. I always re-install my new computers with the full version OS software and notice a considerable increase in speed.


This is just not possible for most people.  The vast majority of consumer computers have the OS pre-loaded, and come either with a "recovery" CD or with the recovery files on a partition from which you make your own CD's.  There is no option to load Windows from a traditional Windows "install" disk.  You could, of course, buy a retail copy of Windows XP for about $100, if you can even find one.  But, again, I would take that $100 and put it towards a newer computer.

I will also tell you that I have been doing this for a loooong time, and even I don't keep a retail copy of XP.  When I get a pre-load, I simply remove all the garbage programs, re-run Windows set-up to add in the management functions I need, and clean the programs folders and registry by hand.

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#3 your computer is an antique, replace it but not with one that has ms vista (POS) on it, wait for windows 7 or get a newer XP machine off Craigs List.


This one, I agree with.  You should know, though, that you can still buy a brand new machine with XP on it -- no need to go to ebay or Craigs List and suffer with someone else's problem.

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#4 go to the run command on the start button and type msconfig....go to the start-up tab and turn off un needed programs.....


This is the Skip Driver function I have now mentioned twice.  We might still get to the point of using this, but it is really a temporary mechanism for testing purposes, not a substitute for actually removing whatever the problem happens to be.  In fact, if you have things turned off in Selective Startup, you will get warnings every time you boot.

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#5 do the same thing in the start-up folder in start/programs..


Actually, these are also controlled by Selective Startup.

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....#5 go to Black Vipers website http://http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm and turn off un-needed services.


This is good advice.  At some point, I would have gotten to Services, however, it is unlikely that any running service is causing the level of problem Len has described.  The default suite of services is a good compromise for most users.  I consider turning off unneeded (or intrusive) services an advanced tweak.

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I use AVG antivirus....its free and does a ok job.


I also use AVG Free, and was going to recommend it if Norton turns out to be the culprit here.  However, at this point we need to nail down the problem before we start throwing more software at it.

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#6 get windows defender, it's free and works ok.....


Windows Defender is anti-spyware, just like AdAware, SpyBot, and others (it started life as Giant).  It is a good suggestion to run something like this, however, again, let's nail the problem down first.  Defender has a resident module which will actually slow things down even further, so I would not install this until after the problem has been identified.

When we get to the point where the system is running fast enough to comfortably want to install new programs, I will suggest we install SpyBot and AdAware and do full scans with both.  If you've never done any spyware scanning, I am sure these will pick up a bunch of stuff.  But, here again, the sorts of spyware that these things catch (Windows Defender included) might slow down a browser a little, but will not have the sort of global impact that you are experiencing.  (A virus is a different matter, but I am guessing that, if nothing else, Norton is at least keeping you virus-free.)

-Sean
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« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2009, 11:16:27 AM »

Sometimes the pain is worth it. like I said, anytime you un-install a program it leaves a trail you CAN NOT get rid of. you'll be left with registry entries and orphan .DLL's that will slow the system down. then re-installing or repairing only over writes the windows files and does nothing to the junk left behind from the programs.

Here's how I set-up my computers. I use a program called nlite http://www.nliteos.com/nlite.html for XP or vlite http://www.vlite.net/about.html for vista (FREE) to remove the junk, add drivers, service packs ect. This will not work with some OEM disks.

I always partition my hard drives into 2, a C: for windows and a larger drive for the stuff you save. That way if the OS takes a crap you still have your stuff. This wont help if the drive dies though.

Install the custom OS from the disk you burned. Then install all your software, e-mail addresses, bookmarks ect, ect. make sure it's the way you want it. I then make a image of the C: drive with a program like http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/

This is the fastest, most painless way I've found to keep my PC's running at peak performance.
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« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2009, 12:22:30 PM »

.... like I said, anytime you un-install a program it leaves a trail you CAN NOT get rid of. you'll be left with registry entries and orphan .DLL's that will slow the system down. then re-installing or repairing only over writes the windows files and does nothing to the junk left behind from the programs.


I don't really want to start an argument here or hijack the thread, but this statement is flatly untrue.  Perhaps you "can not" get rid of the installation trail of any program, but I am quite certain that I can.  Leftover DLLs can be removed, registry entries can be cleaned up, and changed files can be restored.  It's really just a matter of knowing all the steps required for any given application (sometimes a challenge itself) and being able and willing to do all the work.  At some point, it might be easier to simply reinstall the OS, especially if you are not fully conversant with Windows internals, but "can not" is an absolute statement, and it's not correct.

Furthermore, MS has even provided a tool for anyone with administrative rights to be able to do exactly this, at least for the last program they installed.  It is called System Restore.  I do generally advise people who are installing any kind of software they are unsure of to create a restore point before the installation.

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... Install the custom OS from the disk you burned. ...


Again, creating an OS disk is something most folks can not do with the tools at hand.  Unlike the old days, when OEM's either furnished an OEM copy of the Windows installation disk, perhaps masking that fact with a minimal amount of set-up mumbo-jumbo on the auto-run for a "recovery" disk, today's OEM recovery disks actually contain disk images which are blatted directly onto the hard drive after a format-and-partition.  You never go through the Windows installation process, and you never have an "install" disk.

Even creating an emergency boot disk and a way to get into Recovery Console is a challenge with these systems, although there are a couple of good web sites on how to do this (painfully, frankly).

So your advice, while not incorrect, is inapplicable to the vast majority of end-user Windows consumers.

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This is the fastest, most painless way I've found to keep my PC's running at peak performance.


The fastest and most painless way to keep PCs at peak performance is to avoid using Microsoft operating systems.

If you have to use Windows, though, and you truly find that reinstalling the OS and every application is "fast" and "painless," then I submit you don't have a very complex system.  As I said earlier, I have hundreds of applications and a lifetime (well, OK, back to the dawn of MS-DOS) of data and application settings.  It takes me conservatively 30 hours to do this correctly, and no amount of "imaging" helps, because reinstalling from an image can reintroduce whatever problem it was you were trying to avoid by installing from scratch.

I suspect many folks are in more or less the same boat as me -- reinstalling from scratch would be anything but fast and painless.

If Len wants to reinstall everything from scratch (in which case, as I said, it would also be a good time to upgrade hardware), that's great, and I can save myself a whole bunch of time and typing.  On the assumption, though, that he already knew how to do that (Len is a smart guy) and therefore that's not the sort of help he was hoping for in his OP, I am trying here to provide advice that is short of such a draconian measure.

YMMV, as they say.

-Sean
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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2009, 02:03:39 PM »

OK, Len.  Your paging files look good, but, I have to say, you have a pretty slow machine; half a gig of RAM in pretty low for modern software.  You might see if you have room for more memory -- going to one or two gigs will probably make a big improvement.

It sounds like running CHKDSK has made an improvement, since you say Word now opens in 20 seconds, vs. 40 last time (unless you actually changed the paging file size, which will also make such an improvement).

If the improvement is due to CHKDSK, then you might be having disk problems.  Right-click on My Computer and choose Manage, expand Event Viewer, and click on Application.  Somewhere in there you should see a log record from CHKDSK from when you ran it; double-click that and see if any errors were reported.  If there are only file system errors that were corrected, then you probably just had some corruption.  But if it indicates any bad sectors that were marked and blocked, your drive might be going bad and should be replaced.

Next, based on your Task Manager output, which, frankly, looks pretty clean,  I would suggest you completely uninstall Norton and see if there is any improvement.  You seem to be running System Works, which is a much bulkier (and slower) package than just NAV.  I would also uninstall LogMeIn, as it, too, has a resident module that is probably slowing things down, and, again, it is unnecessary, as remote help is built into Windows.

Lastly, I see you are running Carbonite.  This is a machine-killer on an older system such as yours.  Carbonite constantly runs in the background scavenging the disk for new files, which may account for the constant disk access you reported.  (The A-drive attempts, though, are more likely Norton.)  I'm not going to tell you to ditch it, but if the other suggestions don't get us where we need to be, I will suggest we turn it off temporarily through the Skip Driver mechanism.

Let's see what's going on with the disk and where we get with removing Norton before going too much farther.

-Sean
http://http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com



Sean,

I could not find a a log record from CHKDSK.

I did remove Norton Internet Security (even though I recently renewed it, broke my penny pinching heart). I replaced it with AVG free, seems to work a lot better.

I bought and installed Carbonite because I was having these problems and afraid of losing everything.  It does not seem to have impacted speed.

It seems to be running much better now though I can't be completely sure. The problems I was having were very inconsistent. I think I'll leave it alone for a couple of days.  One of the problems before was Firefox and/or Outlook not ending the process after closing them.  That seems to be OK now.

I can't thank you enough for you help and I'll let you know where we are in a few days,

Len
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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2009, 06:48:53 PM »

It seems to be running much better now though I can't be completely sure. The problems I was having were very inconsistent. I think I'll leave it alone for a couple of days.  One of the problems before was Firefox and/or Outlook not ending the process after closing them.  That seems to be OK now.


Len,

I have been a Firefox user for years (since it was new) and recently there was an update to the 3.x version that seemed to slow things way down. It can take a long time to start and shutdown. One of the suggestions to potentially speed things up is to reduce the size of the browsing history. For some reason the default is now 90 days(!).

Regarding Outlook (or Outlook Express), I prefer Thunderbird, from the folks who brought us Firefox. Does pretty much everything that you would want in an email tool and seems to consume fewer resources.

I also agree with Sean's approach. Can't fix the problem unless you know what it is. No different than a bus in that respect.

Also, additional RAM may be an easy step. Based on the brand and model info you mentioned earlier in the thread, here is a link to the spec sheet for your machine:

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c00034333&cc=us&lc=en&dlc=en&product=94001

It looks like your machine takes PC133 Memory and has a max capacity of 3 GB (1 GB in each of 3 slots). I'll have to check my boxes of computer stuff, but I think I have some of this type, but I don't know for sure.

- John
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« Reply #26 on: May 29, 2009, 07:24:28 PM »

Thank you Sean for your clear and well explained trouble shooting steps.  I used to be pretty handy with CP/M and MessyDOS but Winders has got so complicated that I just dread changing machines.  Touch wood but I seem to have this one running reasonably reliably but it has taken over a year.  Doing a clean install of Windows is absolutely the last resort in my life. 
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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2009, 11:06:42 AM »

Well, I'm a bit late in replying to this thread again...

Len, some very excellent advice has been given here...  And I'll reiterate one specific point...  Memory.  Windows XP really _NEEDS_ at least 1GB to be useful if you're doing much more than email and web browsing...  With 2GB, you'll see a dramatic improvement in general speed, and a LOT less disk access...

Something I don't recall seeing in this thread, which is also extremely important with any Windows OS, is the absolute NEED to defragment your hard disk.  Over time, your disk will fragment...  This means that little pieces of files are spread out all over your disk, and the OS has to retrieve those pieces one at a time...  The problem is, once they're fragmented, files can be split into hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of little pieces and aren't sequential...  So your disk has to work harder to read/write to those files.

Imagine you're in a football stadium.  You have a 100,000 page document laid out across the field and you need to read it one page at a time.  You have a "table of contents" in the form of index cards which tell you specifically where any particular page is located on that field.  Right now, they're sequentially laid out and you can quickly go from page 233 through 270 because they're laid out sequentially next to each other...  But, you can only find them by the index cards as to where they are physically located on the field.

Now, imagine that your document has been edited, added to, pages deleted, etc...  But, instead of moving all those pages around to make room for pages being added, and closing gaps when pages are deleted...  Imagine that when a page is deleted, it's simply removed from the field and the space left open...  And when a page is added, the first available space is used to add that page...  Imagine that page 200 was removed, and page 100,001 was put in its place and you now need to read pages 100,000 and 100,001.... 

You look at your index cards, find that page 100,000 is at the far end of the field...  You get done with it, and now need page 100,001...  It's on the OTHER side of the field now, where page 200 was originally!  You walk all the way back to retrieve it and read it.

That's essentially what Windows is doing to your files over time...  Painful, isn't it?  Wink

Anyway, I know this was a long post to explain a simple concept...  But it's often not demonstrated WHY it's so important.  Many people just say "it's necessary" without knowing the explanation themselves...  I find that giving a graphic example for this particular issue is effective at demonstrating WHY it's necessary...

Besides, I'm sitting here resting after being out in the heat and getting myself sick, so it was a great way for me to just "chill", relax and relay some information to ya.  Smiley

-Mac
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« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2009, 08:21:20 PM »

http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
is a free virus scanner, runs online.

Also, get a couple of flash drives (hopefully you have a usb port)
and save all your data files, info and photos...just in case...
good luck,
Mary
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« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2009, 11:28:05 PM »

Len - I'm late replying to this thread, but was having the exact same problems on a four year old 2.8 gig Pentium 4 with 512 mb of ram.  I did a lot of research and determined that I needed more memory, which was confirmed by a PC world article I located, and which directed me to this site:

http://www.crucial.com/

The site has a really great set of very helpful guides and I ended up buying another gig of ram.  What a difference, and well worth the $58 investment.  The machine now runs faster than it ever did before, and I'm running Norton security programs.   Your options may be different depending on the machine, but the guides on the site will be of tremendous help in any event.

tg
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