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What do I need to CHANGE in this configuration?

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October 7, 2011 5:19:54 AM

I tried to find the answer to this in the forums, but I think it needs knowledge and experience... I use the computer mainly for multiple spreadsheets, internet, Bloomberg, Word and PDFs. Occasionally I play around editing photographs. Many applications run concurrently as my job is fairly data intensive and involves swapping. I frequently find that my PC is becoming unresponsive (the dreaded hourglass) and even requiring the occasional reboot, with ctrl-alt-del becoming non-responsive for several minutes. I see from comments in this forum that my processor is still pretty good- Q9450 quad core @2.66GHZ. Is there anything I can do before going out and buying a new PC?

Configuration:

CPU: Q9450 2.67 gigahertz Intel Core2 Quad
64 kilobyte primary memory cache
Board:
ASUSTeK Computer INC. Burbank 1.01 Bus Clock: 333 megahertz
RAM:
4GB, 3GB usable (it says)
HDD:
(1) Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3750640AS 750GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s (primary)
(2) Barracuda 7200.11 SATA 3Gb/s 1.5-TB Hard Drive
Display:
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT
OS: windows 7 SP1

If anybody can help me get this back to the blazing fast machine it was when I bought it I'd be eternally grateful...

Ab

More about : change configuration

a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 8:01:07 AM

There's a few basic maintenance routines id recommend trying out first before looking to buy new components.

1) Delete any unused or unwanted files to clear some space

2) Run a Disk Clean Up. Go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Clean Up. This could take a while depending on when it was last run. When you choose to clean up, tick all the boxes in order to clean up the largest amount of space.

Once you have run a disk clean up, run a disk de-fragment. When you add files to a PC they are added in sequential order, if you delete files from your HDD, it will delete that section of the sequential line, next time a program is installed it will fill the gap first, and then continue to install at the next available slot in the sequential order. This causes lots of small parts of files to be scattered all over the HDD, meaning it takes long to read data, load applications ect.

3) Disk Defrag - Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defrag. You will need to defragment both of your HDD's one at a time. This could take a very long time, depending when it was last run, and how fragmented your HDD is.

Both of these are best practice methods to help keep your PC running smoothly. Id recommend using Disk Defrag on a once-weekly basis to keep your PC running the best it can.

More information here:
Disk Defrag - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_Defragmenter_(Windows)
Disk Cleanup - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_Cleanup

EDIT:

Just to add the reason your PC is showing 3GB RAM when you have 4GB installed is because you have 32-bit version of windows which will only recognise 3GB. You need 64-bit windows in order to utilise more.
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a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 8:24:18 AM

Adrian preatty much nailed it. I would advice however you check your system for malware (virus and other serious ***).

If possible get someone to do it for you how knows computers very well.
Also, you might be having a lot of installed useless programs like toolsbars.
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October 7, 2011 9:11:35 AM

Your specs look ok, id try a fresh install of windows.
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a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 9:17:13 AM

If you have Genuine MS Windows, id recommend using "Microsoft Security Essentials" as your anti-virus software. It's free, its not very resource hungry, and it works! :) 

bumnut53 said:
Your specs look ok, id try a fresh install of windows.


This would require a total wipe of everything, not recommended unless you have reliable file back ups. Especially since this seems to be a work PC, not a home-use.
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a c 83 à CPUs
October 7, 2011 9:19:22 AM

And get 64 bit windows, and an SSD, that'll be the biggest improvement by far, look at the video of the HDD vs SSD on toms front page to see the advantage. I believe you are using 32bit win based on the 3GB available comment. DO NOT use 64bit office, its a bit ropey and has compatability issues.
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a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 9:30:47 AM

13thmonkey said:
And get 64 bit windows, and an SSD, that'll be the biggest improvement by far, look at the video of the HDD vs SSD on toms front page to see the advantage. I believe you are using 32bit win based on the 3GB available comment. DO NOT use 64bit office, its a bit ropey and has compatability issues.


It's not worth paying for a new windows licence just to change from 32-bit to 64-bit. I don't think an SSD would even be worth buying for an office based PC.

The problem is slow file transfer and locking up ("I use the computer mainly for multiple spreadsheets, internet, Bloomberg, Word and PDFs. Occasionally I play around editing photographs. Many applications run concurrently as my job is fairly data intensive and involves swapping") and SSD isn't going to improve this......having more RAM will help, but I still don't think its worth buying a 64-bit windows for.
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a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 2:10:39 PM

+1 on the disk cleanup/defrag and anti-virus. Make sure the AV is NOT running scans while you work, and that power management is set to High Performance

denverab, when your system starts slowing down, open the Task Manager (right click on the toolbar), go to the the Performance tab, and click on Resource Monitor.

Use the Resource Monitor to watch which processes are using CPU time, and which are using memory, and which are writing/reading to the hard drives.

My guess is that the CPU is OK, but you are consistently using all your RAM (even if windows says ther is free RAM) and the system is constantly using the hard drive for extra memory, which is VERY slow. I fthis is the case an SSD will help (a lot) but your best option is to backup your data, get a SSD and 8GB of RAM and install a 64 bit version of Windows 7.

However, you do not need 64 bit versions of other programs, eg. Office.
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a b à CPUs
October 7, 2011 2:13:19 PM

Look for lots of hard drive activity to C:/pagefile.sys
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a c 346 à CPUs
October 7, 2011 4:00:23 PM

1) Since you are doing lots of multitasking, you should have lots of ram available. 8gb at least.
That will let windows keep most of your apps in ram, ready for instant reuse.

2) To access that ram, you need a 64 bit OS. You do not need to buy a new license to change from W7 32 bit to W7 64 bit. The change will require a clean install, since an upgrade install is not possible. If your W7 came witha 64 bit dvd, use it. If not, see if you can borrow a 64 bit dvd to do the install. You will still use your original product code to activate. It is a pain because you will need to reinstall your apps also.

3) If you have the budget, do the install on a new SSD. You can use as little as 40gb, but 60-120gb is preferable to hold some of your commonly used apps.
Plan on $2 per gb. Most any SSD will perform well, and many times better than a Hard drive. Intel and Samsung seem to be currently the most reliable. Keep your hard drives for overflow and storage.

4) Form a productivity point of view, consider adding a second monitor. It is most useful in a highly multitasked system.


5) I normally do not recommend investing much more in a PC that is not a current generation. But, here, I think you might be OK. If the ram you have is DDR2, there will be some waste, but a SSD and monitor can be carried over to a future upgrade.
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October 8, 2011 11:42:54 AM

Adrian, Geofelt and Gang,

Thanks a lot for taking the time and interest to respond. I am out checking out the last of the fall colors in Aspen today, but will be back tomorrow to start on this. My initial plan

1. clean re-install of 64-bit (assuming there isnt any programss I cant reinstall)
2. defrag and delete unused.
3, I had thought just the upgrade to win 7 would help, but it hasnt really - I understand why.
4. add another 4GB if needed. Any DDR2 desktop memory should be good to go with this right?

Lets see if the additional memory usage w/64bit helps performance or the 64-bit benefits are all a techgimmick :) 

Thanks again for sharing your suggestions and I'll update with results in a day or two.

Gracias,

Ab
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a c 346 à CPUs
October 8, 2011 12:52:31 PM

denverab said:
Adrian, Geofelt and Gang,

Thanks a lot for taking the time and interest to respond. I am out checking out the last of the fall colors in Aspen today, but will be back tomorrow to start on this. My initial plan

1. clean re-install of 64-bit (assuming there isnt any programss I cant reinstall)
2. defrag and delete unused.
3, I had thought just the upgrade to win 7 would help, but it hasnt really - I understand why.
4. add another 4GB if needed. Any DDR2 desktop memory should be good to go with this right?

Lets see if the additional memory usage w/64bit helps performance or the 64-bit benefits are all a techgimmick :) 

Thanks again for sharing your suggestions and I'll update with results in a day or two.

Gracias,

Ab


re: 4.
You need to be careful about the added ram.
Ram is sold in kits for a reason.
Ram from the same vendor and part number can be made up of differing manufacturing components over time.
Some motherboards can be very sensitive to this.
Although, I think the problem has lessened with the newer Intel chipsets. Still,
it is safer to get what you need in one kit.

If you plan on just adding ram, make certain that it is as close to your existing ram as you can find.
Different ram will operate only at the best common denominator of specs.
In particular, get ram specified for the same voltage.

Also consider the possibility that you may have contracted a virus, or other malware.
A clean install will start you off with a clean machine. 64 bit W7 is a much better os to resist such infections.
For what it is worth, Microsoft security essentials is free, non intrusive and a very low resource user.
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October 8, 2011 8:11:34 PM

A few questions that you guys may have some quick answers to as I proceed

1. free backup software - is there a freeware that will back up my existing configuration (OS + apps) as-is so I can reimage my C drive if I want to? I have tons of external HDD space.
2. best practises - is there a set of best practises any of you have seen that minimizes pain/timewasting for somebody who is doing a clean install of 64 bit over an existing 32 bit win7 and wants to get back to original applications as soon as possible.
3. format or not - would you guys format HDD or install in hte same HDD, leaving personal files untouched (I know I have to reinstall apps + drivers...).
I am excited to find a path to not have to move to a new PC...
Thank you,
Ab
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October 8, 2011 8:30:05 PM

dlarification - the backup software doesnt *have to be* free, it just shouldnt cost as much as windows :) 
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a c 346 à CPUs
October 8, 2011 8:42:04 PM

1) w7 has a backup program.
Test it out to see if it works for you.

2) W7 also has a program called windows easy transfer. It is in system tools.
It will export/import your settings and data.

3) Unfortunately you can not upgrade directly from 32 bit to 64 bit. It requires a clean install.
Using windows easy transfer you can get your settings and data back seamlessly, but you must reinstall the apps.

4) I suggest you get a ssd of 80-120gb. It will make your pc feel new again.
Export your files and data to an external drive.
Do remember to specify sata mode as ahci in the bios.(not ide or raid)
Disconnect your old hard drive, install the 16gb of ram and clean install w7-64 bit to your ssd.
If you leave the old drive connected, windows will try to install a recovery area on it.
Import your files and settings, either in mass or selectively, install your apps, and you are ready to go.After, you can reattach the old hard drive in case you need to recover anything from it.
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