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Old 08-10-2003, 12:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Computer running terribly slow. Please help.

My computer has an Athalon XP 2100+ processor, 512 MB PC2100 DDR RAM, a SOYO Dragon KT400 Platinum motherboard, an Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/128 MB DDR texture memory, a 7200RPM 8MB cache ATA133 120GB Western Digital HD as master, and a 7200/2MB/ATA133/120GB Maxtor as slave. I run WinXP Professional. A great deal of the time, it runs excrutiatingly slowly, and I need some help trying to figure out what might be going on.

Occasionally everything works fine and the computer runs fairly well, but most of the time everything I try to do is extremely sluggish. It can often take as much as 2 seconds just to pull up a sub-folder in the start menu, and even when I am not using the computer, the framerate on the screensaver (the little 3d flowerbox one that comes with windows) is around 1-2 fps.

When I open the task manager, the processor usage is around 5-15% and free physical memory is over 300MB. I haven't found anything running under the processes tab that shouldn't be. But when I try to do anything at all, the corresponding application shoots up to much higher usage than would normally be expected. For example playing an MP3 in Winamp can take up over 70%, and if I try to scroll through a web page, Iexplore goes up to over 60%. Even opening parts of the start menu can cause explorer to go up over 60%.

I have scanned my computer for viruses with Mcafee, Norton, and PC-cillan, and they found a couple of viruses in some applications, but after they were removed, the problem still existed. I have scanned my computer with a couple of different spy/adware detection programs, but nothing was found, and I am generally very selective about what is installed.

Restarting has no effect on the problem at all. I simply don't know what else to do at this point. I could really use some advice if anyone knows what might be occuring, and what I can do to fix it. I would be happy to post more information if there is anything else that could help with diagnosing the problem. Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-10-2003, 04:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Errrrrrrr for a start having umpteen AV apps is BAD news.

Next, how much stuff is in your sys tray? Clean out all the stuff that is not CRITICAL, just keep things like AV (just the 1!) and your Firewall in the sys tray.

Turn OFF screensavers (pretty poinless these days anyway!).

Check you PF (swapfile) is set correctly.

Turn OFF Restore Points

Turn Off indexing service

Use the 'Disk Clean Up' utility

Set the pf to 'no pf' reboot into Safe Mode DEFRAG reboot and restore the pf.

Does this help?

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Old 08-10-2003, 05:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry, I guess I wasn't very clear about this, but I installed the various antivirus software one at a time, not all at once. The only one I have installed right now is McAfee. I tried using so many different ones in hopes that one of them had missed something that the others might detect.

Restore points and search indexing are already turned off. I've tried several variations on the pf settings including allowing windows to control it, setting from 256MB to 1.5GB in 256MB increments, and turning it off entirely. I defragmented both drives about 2 weeks ago, and the boot drive is only about 3 to 4 months old with a clean install of windows. The problem started occuring before my last defrag, but I'll do it again just to be sure. And I do have the service pack installed.

As for the system tray, task manager reports the following processes, and I have identified the ones I know:

Logitech mouse software:

Each of the following I either know or believe to be system processes:
svchost.exe - 4x



(I still have the problem even without both the antivirus software and the firewall)

Popup Stopper Free Edition (which I have used for about 2 years with no previous trouble and I already uninstalled it once just to make sure)

Nvidia Driver Service:

The main problem with winamp is that even when no other applications are running, it does that little repeating sound like it isn't able to process fast enough. I have the same kinds of problems with every application I use. Kazaa, for example, uses as much as 70% when it is running, even minimized, and I can't run any games that would require more than a pentium II at a decent speed. Something as simple as scrolling down a window in Internet Explorer or as opening the hard drive can be incredibly slow, even with nothing running.

If anyone has any other ideas I would be most grateful. Thanks again.
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Old 08-10-2003, 05:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree that a safe mode defrag is in order.

Try that and get back to us.
\"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I\'m not sure about the former.\"- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

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Old 08-11-2003, 12:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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if you have Norton Systemworks (one of the later versions) it has it's own version of defrag
and maybe use scandisk to fix some probs and even an antivirus scan might help

use msconfig to try and stop everything coming up on boot and it might make it faster

how long have you had this problem anyway
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Old 08-11-2003, 09:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok, I ran scandisk and did a defrag of all my hard drives in safe mode with the pf disabled, and it didn't help.

I already checked all of the startup items in msconfig and removed anything that isn't vital as soon as I started having the problem. And I just tried going into services.msc and disabling everything that I am not using.

Cleaning out the unneeded services has helped some, but there is still a general sluggishness when I try to do something. I am unable to run any DirectX applications (ie games) at any kind of decent framerate (about 3-4 fps at max right now), and when I try to watch any kind of video in either Winamp, DivX player, or Windows Media Player, there is substantial lag in the video, even with nothing else running. A lot of the slowdown seems to occur at times when graphics are being rendered (scrolling in IE or pulling up a menu with icons), so I might be inclined to think it is something related to the graphics card, but when slowdown occurs, it is usually accompanied by excessive reading from the hard drive. I do have the newest drivers for my graphics card, so that isn't the problem. The excessive hard drive reading only occurs when I do something directly (like pull up a menu, scroll a window, or almost anything else), and not when the computer is idle, so I don't think it is a virus or malevolent program.

This has been going on for about 3 weeks right now, and I didn't install any new software or do anything else that I can remember that would have caused this, other than some of the antivirus software, but that was after the slowdown already started happening.

Actually I did upgrade to DirectX 9.0a recently. I don't remember exactly when, but I'm inclined to think that it was after the problem started as well.

Thanks once again for taking your time to help.
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ok, I managed to fix the problem. I basically decided to try flashing my motherboard to a newer bios and updating the drivers for the chipset. As soon as I did, everything started working perfectly. The entire system is running blazingly fast, and I just managed to get a consistent framerate of over 20fps on a game that has a 933 mhz PIII as one of the minimum system requirements, even with all the settings turned up as high as they would go.

Thank you to everyone for the advice they offered, and in the hopes that it will help somebody, I have offered a link below to a website that has some great tips that were really helpful to me for optimizing Win XP, although flashing the bios was ultimately my idea (the author also has guides for other versions of windows as well if anyone needs them).

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