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Suggestions about why my desktop is so slow?

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September 13, 2012 11:22:48 PM

Over the course of the last year or so, my home computer has gotten progressively slower and slower, to the point that it runs like molasses. Programs take forever to start, webpages are quite slow to load, and a user generally has to wait, quite a long time, to get anything done. I'm wondering why it is, and want to make sure that the hardware is up to snuff.



The image above shows the hardware and RAM - I don't remember which MB it's all running on, but the GPU is a middle-of-the-road GPU from Nvidia (I want to say it's the GTX 550). I don't think of any of these components as particularly old, especially since the Windows performance index shows good scores for CPU, RAM and GPU.

There are multiple accounts on the machine - one for me, my wife, and each of my kids - could multiple accounts cause major slow downs? The computer also accumulates a TON of dust - it seems that, no matter how frequently I clean it out, every time I look at it, there's a whole bunch of dust in the case again. I'm wondering if that might be a factor as well.

The thing that has me wondering whether there's an issue with the hardware is that I threw a live-CD version of Fedora 17 into the drive, and it ran like molasses, just as Windows does.

Is the CPU a lot older than I'm remembering it to be? Or is there some other likely problem I'm overlooking?
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
September 13, 2012 11:30:23 PM

It's not so old, and should not be very slow.
I would suspect that your processor is over heating, and throttling back as a result. Download HWMonitor to check your temps.
September 14, 2012 1:29:57 AM

Windows tends to slow down all by itself over time due to patches, software downloads, etc. Not to the extent mentioned, but still something to be mindful of. Live-CD versions of Linux distro's have also run a little slower than their full-installed versions in my experience, but again, not to that extent.

I agree with checking CPU temps for overheating. When cleaning the dust from the case, do you make sure to clear out the heat-sinks and fans with compressed air? My CoolerMaster HAF 932 had to be cleaned out every month in a dusty state like Idaho. Keeping it off the floor and away from dusty points (window seals) helped a little.

If you can't find any problems in the hardware, check your installed programs for excessive amounts of trial software or utilities that are running all the time. Try using a spyware detector like AdAware or Spybot Search & Destroy, and your favorite anti-virus (AVG Free works for me). Run a good old fashioned defrag (Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools). If you're comfortable, run MSCONFIG and disable any start-up tasks you don't need.
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September 14, 2012 2:23:00 AM

Proximon said:
It's not so old, and should not be very slow.
I would suspect that your processor is over heating, and throttling back as a result. Download HWMonitor to check your temps.


What's the temperature at which the CPU starts throttling? I'm showing temps between 35 and 48 degrees C (after a restart).
September 14, 2012 2:58:33 AM

tivatar said:
When cleaning the dust from the case, do you make sure to clear out the heat-sinks and fans with compressed air?


No - I don't have compressed air in my home, though maybe I should start keeping a can on hand...

tivatar said:
Keeping it off the floor and away from dusty points (window seals) helped a little.


The tower is on a table, away from windows and other dust-generating things (except children).

tivatar said:
If you can't find any problems in the hardware, check your installed programs for excessive amounts of trial software or utilities that are running all the time.


No trial software, but there were a bunch of (now) useless programs and drivers in the installed program list. Let's see how things look after I reboot the computer...

tivatar said:
Try using a spyware detector like AdAware or Spybot Search & Destroy, and your favorite anti-virus (AVG Free works for me).


No viruses detected. I don't run a spyware detector. Do I need to if I have a good security suite?

tivatar said:
Run a good old fashioned defrag (Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools).


This happens on schedule one day every week, in the wee hours of the morning.

tivatar said:
If you're comfortable, run MSCONFIG and disable any start-up tasks you don't need.


There wasn't much there to disable, but 2 or 3 things had popped up since I last looked.

I do run Windows/MS Family Safety on the computer to keep my kids under control when they're using their accounts. I wonder if that could be slowing things down...?
September 14, 2012 3:02:28 AM

The simple approach would be to buy an SSD and do a fresh install of 64-bit 7. That will eliminate the main bottleneck in your system.
September 14, 2012 3:05:09 AM

It shouldn't be throttling at those temps... the Sandy Bridge i7 in my laptop idles at 49*. It's not the best comparison, but 35-48 isn't too high by processor standards.

You can check to make sure Windows isn't artificially throttling the CPU. Open your power options in the control panel. Check that "High Performance" is the selected plan, and click "Change plan settings" then "Change advanced power settings." Under the 'Processor Power Management' drop-down, make sure minimum and maximum processor states are set to 100%.
September 14, 2012 3:14:12 AM

It might be problem on your hard drive. Since your using a HDD (hard disk score 5.9), HDDs tends to fail overtime. You might want to check your HDD if there's any problems.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
September 14, 2012 5:27:15 AM

This topic has been closed by Proximon
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