Suddenly unusably slow


W

Warren Post

A Win7 box had been running as expected, then suddenly became unusably
slow. Details are these:

Hardware is a Dell Inspiron N4110 laptop, which has been in service for
perhaps 2 years. OS is Win7 Home Premium SP1 x64, OEM installed.
Antimalware used is F-Prot Antivirus (licensed, up to date) and Windows
Firewall. There have been no recent security warnings. Additionally, the
box has Secunia PSI installed and the user has been good about
monitoring it and keeping applications up to date.

The problem was first observed upon turning on the computer the morning
of June 8. The computer had been fully turned off the night before, not
merely suspended. By "unusably slow" I mean there is a lag of a minute
or more between performing an action and seeing the result. The start
menu might take a minute to appear after pressing the start button, and
Firefox might take 5 minutes to launch instead of the expected 7
seconds. The problem worsens with time: the system is minimally
responsive at first, but once it's been on a few minutes, responsiveness
gets even worse.

The problem is observed in all user accounts (the daily driver account
with standard privileges, and the rarely used administrative and guest
accounts). The problem is not observed while running in Safe Mode.

From within Safe Mode I attempted to restore the system to several
restore points dated prior to the problem. Each attempt was confirmed as
successfully working, yet the issue remains.

I booted into Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a live CD that mounts the Windows
partitions and performs a virus scan (a no-cost tool I highly recommend,
BTW). Nothing was detected.

I have not yet tried restoring the OEM disk image. That option is on the
table, but I'd prefer to understand and fix the issue rather than simply
nuke it and be none the wiser.

At this point I'm out of ideas. What else might I try to get this box
usable again?
 
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J

Johnny

A Win7 box had been running as expected, then suddenly became unusably
slow. Details are these:

Hardware is a Dell Inspiron N4110 laptop, which has been in service for
perhaps 2 years. OS is Win7 Home Premium SP1 x64, OEM installed.
Antimalware used is F-Prot Antivirus (licensed, up to date) and Windows
Firewall. There have been no recent security warnings. Additionally, the
box has Secunia PSI installed and the user has been good about
monitoring it and keeping applications up to date.

The problem was first observed upon turning on the computer the morning
of June 8. The computer had been fully turned off the night before, not
merely suspended. By "unusably slow" I mean there is a lag of a minute
or more between performing an action and seeing the result. The start
menu might take a minute to appear after pressing the start button, and
Firefox might take 5 minutes to launch instead of the expected 7
seconds. The problem worsens with time: the system is minimally
responsive at first, but once it's been on a few minutes, responsiveness
gets even worse.

The problem is observed in all user accounts (the daily driver account
with standard privileges, and the rarely used administrative and guest
accounts). The problem is not observed while running in Safe Mode.

From within Safe Mode I attempted to restore the system to several
restore points dated prior to the problem. Each attempt was confirmed as
successfully working, yet the issue remains.

I booted into Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a live CD that mounts the Windows
partitions and performs a virus scan (a no-cost tool I highly recommend,
BTW). Nothing was detected.

I have not yet tried restoring the OEM disk image. That option is on the
table, but I'd prefer to understand and fix the issue rather than simply
nuke it and be none the wiser.

At this point I'm out of ideas. What else might I try to get this box
usable again?
Have you looked at Event Viewer in Administrative Tools in the Control
Panel? This might give you some idea of what's going on.
 
P

Paul

Warren said:
A Win7 box had been running as expected, then suddenly became unusably
slow. Details are these:

Hardware is a Dell Inspiron N4110 laptop, which has been in service for
perhaps 2 years. OS is Win7 Home Premium SP1 x64, OEM installed.
Antimalware used is F-Prot Antivirus (licensed, up to date) and Windows
Firewall. There have been no recent security warnings. Additionally, the
box has Secunia PSI installed and the user has been good about
monitoring it and keeping applications up to date.

The problem was first observed upon turning on the computer the morning
of June 8. The computer had been fully turned off the night before, not
merely suspended. By "unusably slow" I mean there is a lag of a minute
or more between performing an action and seeing the result. The start
menu might take a minute to appear after pressing the start button, and
Firefox might take 5 minutes to launch instead of the expected 7
seconds. The problem worsens with time: the system is minimally
responsive at first, but once it's been on a few minutes, responsiveness
gets even worse.

The problem is observed in all user accounts (the daily driver account
with standard privileges, and the rarely used administrative and guest
accounts). The problem is not observed while running in Safe Mode.

From within Safe Mode I attempted to restore the system to several
restore points dated prior to the problem. Each attempt was confirmed as
successfully working, yet the issue remains.

I booted into Kaspersky Rescue Disk, a live CD that mounts the Windows
partitions and performs a virus scan (a no-cost tool I highly recommend,
BTW). Nothing was detected.

I have not yet tried restoring the OEM disk image. That option is on the
table, but I'd prefer to understand and fix the issue rather than simply
nuke it and be none the wiser.

At this point I'm out of ideas. What else might I try to get this box
usable again?
Is operating speed "normal" when things like your Kaspersky Rescue Disk is
running ?

The answer to that, may suggest whether hardware is involved.

It's possible your machine is not from the same era as this.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetrev...-defect-turning-a-2-2ghz-cpu-into-100mhz/9799

You might also want to look at the machine with Process Explorer, and
see if the percentage of time spent on Interrupts is significant. A
machine can be brought to its knees by an interrupt storm, sometimes
caused by defective hardware.

Process Explorer
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653

A bad disk drive can do this too. But perhaps in that case, running
an HDTune benchmark, and looking for warning signs, is in order.
A hard drive should have a gently declining curve for transfer
rate. Older drives would go from 60MB/sec down to 40MB/sec near
the end of the disk. Newer drives are 125MB/sec near the beginning
and perhaps 70MB/sec hear the end.

http://www.hdtune.com/files/hdtune_255.exe

Check the health tab, that lists SMART statistics, as well.

Paul
 
J

J. P. Gilliver (John)

[QUOTE="Paul said:
A Win7 box had been running as expected, then suddenly became
unusably slow. Details are these: []
before, not merely suspended. By "unusably slow" I mean there is a
lag of a minute or more between performing an action and seeing the []
and guest accounts). The problem is not observed while running in
Safe Mode.
[]
A bad disk drive can do this too. But perhaps in that case, running[/QUOTE]
[]
That was my first thought, but the lack of the problem in safe mode
suggests it isn't that. (I've seen machines slow to glacial with a
failing hard disc, but not actually show any errors.) All the same, I
will ask - is the disc light on more than usual? (Of course, you
probably don't know what's usual - I don't!)
--
J. P. Gilliver. UMRA: 1960/<1985 MB++G()AL-IS-Ch++(p)[email protected]+H+Sh0!:`)DNAf

(If you are unlucky you may choose one of the old-fashioned ones [language
schools] and be taught English as it should be, and not as it is, spoken.)
George Mikes, "How to be Decadent" (1977).
 
W

Warren Post

Is operating speed "normal" when things like your Kaspersky Rescue Disk is
running ?

The answer to that, may suggest whether hardware is involved.
The system behaves as expected not only in Windows Safe Mode but also
when running off the Linux-based Kaspersky Rescue Disk. For those
reasons I think software is a more likely cause than hardware.
 
W

Warren Post

the lack of the problem in safe mode suggests it isn't that. (I've seen
machines slow to glacial with a failing hard disc, but not actually show
any errors.) All the same, I will ask - is the disc light on more than
usual? (Of course, you probably don't know what's usual - I don't!)
It's not my box, so I'm afraid I don't know what is normal for the disc
light on this hardware. It's not on all the time, and doesn't seem to be
on any less while in Safe Mode.
 
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G

Gene E. Bloch

The system behaves as expected not only in Windows Safe Mode but also
when running off the Linux-based Kaspersky Rescue Disk. For those
reasons I think software is a more likely cause than hardware.
Safe mode turns off all sorts of startup software. That is not the only
thing it does, but it's a possible clue.

So there's the long tedious and brute force method of turning startup
items off and on to test.

I usually do a binary search. First I turn off half of the startup
items.

If that fixes it, I turn half of them back on. If that step breaks it, I
then think the problem is in what I just reinstated.

One proceeds thus in ever reduced groups. AND one must keep careful
records - it's easy to lose track.

If that didn't fix it, the problem is in the ones I initially turned
off.

One problem: if the problem is due to the interaction of two different
startups, you might never track it down that way.
 
W

Warren Post

Have you looked at Event Viewer in Administrative Tools in the Control
Panel? This might give you some idea of what's going on.
(I'm translating from Spanish; I probably won't get the exact same terms
as used in English, but I trust you'll know what I mean.)

In the Processes tab of Task Manager and sorting by either CPU or RAM
use, I see nothing obviously amiss. In the Performance tab I pres the
Resource Monitor button to open the Resource Monitor. Again, I don't see
anything obviously amiss.

Not being my hardware I don't have a clear idea of what I would have
seen before this problem, but I don't see anything obviously eating up
the CPU or memory or hogging the disk.
 
W

Warren Post

Safe mode turns off all sorts of startup software. That is not the only
thing it does, but it's a possible clue.

So there's the long tedious and brute force method of turning startup
items off and on to test.
Sounds like what I need to do. Would Ccleaner be an appropriate tool for
this?
 
G

Gene E. Bloch

Autoruns will help list the startup candidates for you.

A tick box is next to each, so they can be disabled.
Then you can reboot and test.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

Paul
Autoruns is (frighteningly!) complete, so it might be OK to start with
msconfig.exe. It is part of Windows, but it isn't a powerhouse by any
means.

It's still a good idea to take notes and notes and notes as you proceed
:)
 
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J

Jason

Sounds like what I need to do. Would Ccleaner be an appropriate tool for
this?
Autoruns is soup-to-nuts and shows *everything* but a first try with
msconfig would be much simpler and might do what you need.
 
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W

Warren Post

Autoruns is (frighteningly!) complete, so it might be OK to start with
msconfig.exe. It is part of Windows, but it isn't a powerhouse by any
means.

It's still a good idea to take notes and notes and notes as you proceed
Just to bring closure to this thread, I experimented first with
msconfig.exe and then with autoruns until the box's owner ran out of
patience and asked me to do a factory restore. So I never did identify
the source of the problem, but I did learn two new tools, so thanks all
for teaching me those.
 

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