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Windows 7 running slow even with clean boot?

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October 1, 2011 10:52:09 AM

I work as a PC repair tech primarily removing malware and installing new hardware or software. I am working on a computer now whose owner was complaining that it was running slow and whenever he tried to open any program or window it would go to "Not Responding" before it was brought up.

I checked and it did have this problem, I could not really do anything at all from normal mode so I went into safe mode and it works perfectly. From there I removed some malware and unwanted programs. The issue was still there so I set it up to do a clean boot (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929135 if you don't know what this is). The problem is still there.

So, in safe mode it works fine, but in normal mode with a clean boot the problem is there. I am trying to figure out a way to repair Windows but whenever I try it just tries to install fresh and I don't get an option to repair. This guy has a TON of stuff on his computer so I would like to avoid having to perform a fresh install.

Any advice?
October 1, 2011 11:46:13 AM

Yes, have the client buy a new disk (great 1TB is $60 plus sata cable). Give him a clean windows on teh new drive as a boot drive. Tell him his old drive has a virus lurking, that you have set it up as the D drive, that he should execute NOTHING on that drive, but that his data is there. Use win7 migration to move all the setting and data win7 will automatically move and let him re-install his software.

If a virus has carved out a nook it's probably in something that gets activated on boot, but is not windows. So reloading windows won't find it.

More likely there are stubs of code where the virus hooked that are in performance paths that used to lead to the virus, but now go nowhere, but cause the performance problem.

I'd also stick Microsoft security essentials on the new drive. No subscription to lapse.

Client will be happy to get additional drive.

October 1, 2011 11:51:24 AM

Aside: You can also go 1 by 1 through the startup programs in MSCONFIG. It's something there if a clean boot is OK and the normal boot isn't.

First use MSCONFIG to see all the modules that get started, and then google each EXE -- what is it, does the size match? Try to reinstall anything that is wrong. This is a pain. Anything in startup that google can't find was probably inserted by the virus and missed by the cleanup you used.

Then use selective startup and uncheck all but the first program in the startup list, boot, still OK? yes, now add the enxt one. Eventually the PC will go into slow mode and the last one you did seems to be a bad guy. Repeat until you find all teh bad guys.

Me, I'd skip this, do the clean format install and then copy over any data files you can.
Related resources
a b $ Windows 7
October 1, 2011 12:11:44 PM

The problem is obviously caused by a driver. Whether it is caused by a buggy driver or a root kit virus I don't know. Try disabling drivers one by one and see if that cures the problem.
October 1, 2011 2:59:45 PM

tsnor said:
Aside: You can also go 1 by 1 through the startup programs in MSCONFIG. It's something there if a clean boot is OK and the normal boot isn't.

First use MSCONFIG to see all the modules that get started, and then google each EXE -- what is it, does the size match? Try to reinstall anything that is wrong. This is a pain. Anything in startup that google can't find was probably inserted by the virus and missed by the cleanup you used.

Then use selective startup and uncheck all but the first program in the startup list, boot, still OK? yes, now add the enxt one. Eventually the PC will go into slow mode and the last one you did seems to be a bad guy. Repeat until you find all teh bad guys.

Me, I'd skip this, do the clean format install and then copy over any data files you can.

Clean boot means that everything was turned off in the services except for Microsoft services and nothing was starting at boot. Problem is still there even then. BUT, safe mode works fine.
October 1, 2011 3:27:48 PM

maybe a combo of both the above posters , I assume you have checked for BIOS and firmware updates ? .. maybe it was one of those new fancy virii that can affect the bios ..might be a pain , but borrow a drive , disconnect the old drive , and do a fresh install of Win7 , ..this might help narrow if its Hardware/software/driver problem (on the new drive you can check at each step before installing apps/proggies/updating drivers/...maybe he had multiple virii and malware that hosed the registry ; what are the system specs ..is it a prebuilt or custom ? but sounds like multiple virii/malware ..that still had junk in there, are trying to repair Win from a fresh CD boot , or repair Win from same drive ?
October 1, 2011 4:53:29 PM

ltrazaklt said:
maybe a combo of both the above posters , I assume you have checked for BIOS and firmware updates ? .. maybe it was one of those new fancy virii that can affect the bios ..might be a pain , but borrow a drive , disconnect the old drive , and do a fresh install of Win7 , ..this might help narrow if its Hardware/software/driver problem (on the new drive you can check at each step before installing apps/proggies/updating drivers/...maybe he had multiple virii and malware that hosed the registry ; what are the system specs ..is it a prebuilt or custom ? but sounds like multiple virii/malware ..that still had junk in there, are trying to repair Win from a fresh CD boot , or repair Win from same drive ?

Would a partition work? It is a pre-built Dell. Relatively new, with 6GB of RAM, 4 core AMD processor, and 1 TB hard drive. He is only using about half, so I was thinking of splitting his drive into two partitions and then install a fresh copy of Windows 7 on the new one and then transfer his files over and re-install the programs I have access to (he has a ton of PC games installed and I don't have those discs, plus I don't know how to back up save data for them).

Then let him reinstall the ones he didn't give me discs or product keys for. Assuming that fixes the problem.
October 1, 2011 7:44:02 PM

assuming the HD is not the issue..prolly work, but it still doesnt let you know what the culprit actually is ..its a pain , as said earlier , I would try going through each EXE in task mngr ..look them up , and see if they might already be reported as a problem, try and find out wht they and do, and do they match up to correct mem size ..and as you go through each one , disable them , and try the to open the windows and see if they still hang
!