Sudden loss of performance

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The EGE
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Sudden loss of performance

Postby The EGE » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:30 pm UTC

I've got a Dell XP15 laptop, running Windows 7. Upgraded processor and 8 gigs of RAM, so under normal conditions it is FAST. I can usually run Itunes, Picasa, Chrome with multiple tabs, and GIMP or Inkscape all together without any noticeable loss of speed.

Over the past week, it's slowed down significantly. Tabs take a second or two to open, saving large documents takes a while, and GIMP sometimes hangs on startup. No bluescreens and nothing but GIMP has crashed, but it's getting annoying, especially as I'm working with some huge SVGs. Even copying files to a flash drive is measurably slowed.

If it's a virus/malware, then it's well-hidden. Norton's full scan gets nothing, as does Norton Power Eraser, and a clean install of MalwareBytes also found nada. I've had no pop-up ads / phishing emails / any other symptoms of one either. Just the slowing.

System health report comes up normal (except for reporting no antivirus program, which it did even when healthy). CPU and memory usage are normal as well. Disk defrag is up to date.

So what do I do? Do I just live with it and see if it gets better or worse? Is there some other diagnostic I can do? Something else that could be it?
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby cphite » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:29 pm UTC

In the past when I've seen systems slow down like this and also report no AV program when you have one installed, the problem was often related to the AV program. Try uninstalling Norton's (make sure you're either offline or behind a firewall) and running without it, and see if performance improves. Then re-install and see if that has an effect.

If upon re-installing Norton's you see that Windows still doesn't recognize it, I'd recommend uninstalling it and trying something else - Microsoft Security Essentials is a good one that's free - just to see if it recognizes the new one. If it still doesn't recognize that you have an AV program, then you may have malware or some system problem that needs to be addressed. In either case, re-installing Windows is probably going to be faster and easier than tracking it down.

Aside from that, grab a copy of Memtest86+ and make sure your RAM is good. Grab a copy of Prime95 and stress test your CPU. Look in event viewer for any errors reported - hard disk response times, that sort of thing.

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The EGE
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby The EGE » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:06 am UTC

Well, that would be a lot more helpful if I wasn't a bucktoothed idiot who left the Norton disk at school. If nothing else pops up before then, I'll try it on Sunday.
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby ajd007 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:20 am UTC

You can download norton online from their website. You just need your license key. It should be stored as a txt file somewhere in your user folder. Mine is in C:\Users\<Username>\Documents\Symantec

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby The EGE » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:25 am UTC

Aaaaand Excel just crashed. Not even doing heavy work, it just froze. Is the antivirus pretty definitely the problem here, or is there anything else I should try before reinstalling it?
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby cphite » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

The EGE wrote:Aaaaand Excel just crashed. Not even doing heavy work, it just froze. Is the antivirus pretty definitely the problem here, or is there anything else I should try before reinstalling it?


I wouldn't go as far as saying definitely - it just fits what I've seen in past machines with problems you're describing. It's generally pretty easy to remove and re-install antivirus, so it's something to try.

I'd definitely recommend running the tests with Memtest86+ and Prime95; the problems you're describing can also be caused by bad RAM, a CPU issue (overheating for example) so you at least want to know those are okay before you spend a lot of time trying to track down a software problem.

How full is your system hard disk? Does the event log show any errors or warnings regarding disk performance?

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby Panonadin » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:37 pm UTC

I know we're throwing darts at a board at this point. Problems like this are normally solved by taking stabs in the dark until you disable/update something and it's all just fine and dandy. I would agree with the AV solution as a step. I saw someone also mentioned the CPU overheating I would like to add to that the graphics card. The onboard fan for my old 8600GTS went out once and I didnt notice. Started lagging things out for me as the GPU started to melt itself down while increasing the heat in the case.

You might also want to try and remember when the last time you updated something was and see if the slow-down matches the time table of an update. Something as simple as a beta driver or an update to one thing that bugged out another is always a possibility.
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The EGE
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby The EGE » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:59 am UTC

I've filled about 5% of my 500 GB hard drive. I had a couple 11 and 15 errors about a day before the problem started.

Lots of "RTL8167" warnings - 6 in the last 4 days, after none for weeks. Google seems to tell me that some people are having problems related to it and right now that's all of it I can understand.

I'm not sure I understand using Memtest and Prime95. How do I go about making a bootable USB drive for Memtest?
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby Amnesiasoft » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:27 am UTC

The EGE wrote:I'm not sure I understand using Memtest and Prime95. How do I go about making a bootable USB drive for Memtest?

You really don't have to, Windows 7 has a built in memory tester if you mash F8 enough times during boot.

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby Carnildo » Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:20 am UTC

The EGE wrote:Lots of "RTL8167" warnings - 6 in the last 4 days, after none for weeks.

RTL8167 is your network chip, so the warnings could be about a hardware fault (major problem), a driver fault (minor problem), or simply bad data coming in off the wire (no problem at all) -- without the text of the warning messages, there's no way to know.

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby cphite » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

The EGE wrote:I've filled about 5% of my 500 GB hard drive. I had a couple 11 and 15 errors about a day before the problem started.

Lots of "RTL8167" warnings - 6 in the last 4 days, after none for weeks. Google seems to tell me that some people are having problems related to it and right now that's all of it I can understand.

I'm not sure I understand using Memtest and Prime95. How do I go about making a bootable USB drive for Memtest?


Look in device manager at your network adapter - see if it's showing any kind of a warning. If so, you may need to update your drivers. It could also be a hardware problem, in which case you may need a new adapter. A bad network card, especially if it's hardware-bad, can affect performance.

If you don't see any warnings, try disabling the network adapter and running offline for a couple of hours and see if the problem goes away.

I'd still do MemTest86+ - if you go to their download site they'll have one that's labeled for installation on a USB key, and they have instructions on how to do so in their forums.

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby Jorpho » Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:09 am UTC

The EGE wrote:So what do I do? Do I just live with it and see if it gets better or worse? Is there some other diagnostic I can do?
It's always worth trying out a live Linux CD to try and rule out hardware problems. Granted, if you've never tried one before, it will be kind of hard to gauge if your system is operating at normal speed after booting from the disk, but it's worth a shot.

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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby The EGE » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:27 am UTC

More weirdness. Inbuilt memory testing didn't detect anything, but it didn't inform me when it booted like it said it would. It occurs to me that Windows Update has also been failing to notify me of installed updates upon reboot.

Also figured out a very specific cause for the Excel crashes. Always when making a scatter plot, adding a new data series, and choosing the X or (usually) the Y data.

Device manager shows no problems with the network adapter. I'll try offline mode tomorrow.
sillybear25 wrote:But it's NPH, so it's creepy in the best possible way.

Shivahn wrote:I'm in your abstractions, burning your notions of masculinity.

cphite
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Re: Sudden loss of performance

Postby cphite » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

Another thing you could try... grab a copy of Ubuntu off their website, and install it as a bootable USB key. There are instructions on the site - it's not difficult at all. Boot up to Ubuntu (you're not installing anything, just booting) and play around for a while. You won't have access to any of your Windows programs (so you won't be able to test the new Excel thing for example) but you should be able to surf the web, and there are plenty of built in things to play around with.

Basically, you're looking to see if the machine crashes, locks, or shows odd bits of slowness. If you do notice these things, it may indicate that your problem is hardware (assuming it's not just an incompatibility issue) and if your machine runs like a champ no matter how hard you stress it, that kind of points to it being a Windows problem.

All of that said, the fact that you've reported AV problems (Windows not recognizing Norton) along with Windows Update not reporting itself along with performance issues hints towards malware or some deep OS issue. You may have to consider re-installing Windows from scratch. If you do go that route, I'd recommend the full deal - format the drive - rather than attempting a repair.


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