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Unexplained system slow down

Last response: in Systems
September 24, 2007 4:29:42 PM

Thanks to help from this board, I built my first PC a few months ago and everything has been running great...until last week. I started up my PC like any other time, but Windows XP took over 5 minutes to load. (I don't think it ever took more than 30 seconds before.) Then once it started up, it acted as if I had about 128mb of ram. (I have 2gb) On start up my system runs a virus scan and having this on prevented me from doing anything else. The system never crashed but I was completely unable to do more than one thing at a time.

Since then I've noticed that while Windows does not take as long as that time, it is taking a noticably longer time to start up. I also have random system slow downs, almost as if something is wrong with the hard drive. I thought it might be a virus so I ran multiple scans as well as starting the system up without an internet connection just in case. I never considered overheating because it acts like this even when the pc hasn't been on all day. The system is also recognizing 2 gigs of ram so I don't think it's a ram problem.

To be honest, I'm not great at diagnosing a problem like this. I did try everything that came to mind. If anyone has a suggestion please feel free to share. If any further information from my end would help in figuring this out, just let me know. Thanks in advance.
September 24, 2007 5:25:31 PM

Just because your machine is recognizing 2 gig of ram doesn't mean that the ram is working dorrectly. Download memtest to a floppy or cd and run it to test the ram. If the ram isn't working correctly, it will use the page filing of the hard disk as virtual ram and that will slow everything down. It is possible that your hard drive is failing, so run tests on that as well.

Also use the task manager to check for any new or excess programs that are running. If you installed any new program just before the slow down occured, likely that program had something within it that's hogging resources. I had that happen to me a few days ago, when a game that I installed also installed another program that I didn't know about. I got rid of the extra program and my computer is back up to speed. Also, if you can, change the virus scan to a different time then start-up for a faster load of Windows. During start up, the computer is is heavily loaded, so making it easier to get running is best. I manually run a virus scan daily so I can time it to when I'm not using the computer for any intense work.

Just a few suggestions, some you may have tried already. Other people may have more ideas, but this is what comes to mind at the moment.
September 24, 2007 7:57:35 PM

Thanks for the ideas. Changing the virus scan time is something I will definitely do. I will also give memtest a shot tonight and see what it turns up. I can't pinpoint anything I dled or installed before this happened so it's hard to say if that might be it.
Related resources
September 24, 2007 8:43:10 PM

run a hard drive speed test. Time how long it takes to make a copy of a 1 gig file. Make multiple copies and start counting after the second copy. It should take no more than 90 seconds to make each copy. 45 if its a halfway decent build.
September 24, 2007 9:40:20 PM

Adaware is a good one. I run that regularly, along with Spybot. Forgot to mention them by name. Been a bit of a busy day and I didn't think of everything. Thanks for remembering what I forgot.
September 24, 2007 10:06:56 PM

I actually do use Spy Bot, Ad-aware and AVG on an almost daily basis. I feel fairly safe in saying that it isn't a virus or spyware.

And it is a good build which is why this is frustrating to me. Core2Duo, 2gb G.Skill ram, Gigabyte S3 mobo, 8800gts gpu, etc.

One question I do have, I assume memtest will take care of the ram, what can I use to test the hdd?
September 24, 2007 10:10:10 PM

I had a similar issue when a second hard drive failed on me. It was the none bootable drive but it slowed up start up time by 4-5 minutes.

Don't know if this could apply to you or not without knowing your specs
September 24, 2007 11:27:00 PM

Stop looking at porn....
September 25, 2007 1:03:21 AM

Stop looking at porn....

Haha, I was waiting for that one. This rig has never seen a single porn site. I do all my finances, banking, etc on this computer and there is no way I would compromise it like that.
September 25, 2007 1:58:15 AM

It was the most obvious response. As we all know of the dreaded indecent pop-ups. :ouch: 

Now, in an attempt to help. I have seen issues like this before. It was related to a bad motherboard once, and memory the other time. I had a really glitchy DFI board and it would randomly do this with different setups. I finally got tired of this board causing so many problems I pitched it in the trash. I did try an RMA and they sent it back saying it was fine. The reason I knew it was the board is because I used it in many different systems and it was the only common component.

You might want to run memtest 86. It usually does a good job of diagnosing memory related problems. Keep in mind though that just because the memory fails doesn't mean it's bad. The motherboard can cause the memory to fail as well.

Post back if you come up with any more questions or problems.