Author Topic: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.  (Read 4110 times)

Offline Quemaqua

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PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 07:36:35 AM »
I've been having this issue for a good while now, and have been meaning to make a post. Finally getting around to it.

This is basically an issue with system slowness. I tried to fix it via a reformat and reinstall of the OS, but that didn't help.

Basically things are okay when I first start the computer or reboot. Then gradually, as time goes on, it starts to get slower and slower, the hard drive reading more and more furiously as I try to load things. If I have a lot going on or leave Firefox open for a while to go do something else or leave the house, when I come back, trying to do anything at all, even closing a program, can take minutes while the hard drive reads like a crazed lunatic. But even after closing everything and clearing whatever memory usage may be going on, it doesn't return to normal. It just sits in this horrible purgatory where it takes forever to do the slightest thing.

Videos become tough to watch, as they may not load properly or will blip out, etc. Listening to MP3s either in iTunes or VLC or Foobar will work, but they'll skip every 10 seconds or so, like they're having trouble being read from the drive fast enough. If I try to play a game, forget about it. I loaded Skyrim at one point, which used to work perfectly fine on this system, and all of a sudden it ran at about 1 frame every 25 seconds (or worse ... not an exaggeration). If I stared directly at the floor it seemed to be okay, but as soon as I looked up, total system breakdown, and it seemed to be related to loading textures, or at least that's what I'm guessing.

Is there a chance this is somehow related to RAM? I've only got 2 gigs, but that was fine enough for years, even after upgrading to Win 7. I've tried to replace it and get up to 4 gigs, but even when I bought the right kind (I honestly can't even remember right now if it's DDR or DDR3 or whatever the hell), it still turned out to be the wrong pin configuration and wouldn't fit. Which left me a bit baffled, but I've not dealt with upgrading in years.

So yeah, it's been so long since I've upgraded this thing in any fashion that it's no surprise I'm having issues and can't find ready parts. But I'm at my wit's end with this thing, as I've really got no money and this rig needs to last me as long as possible. It still works okay after a reboot, generally, and if I don't leave Firefox open for long periods of time that seems to help ... and frequent defrags of the system drive and runs with CCleaner seem to maybe help a little too, but that might just be my imagination.

I've never experienced anything like this before, so am at a loss. I've run all the diagnostics I can and my drives are all in good shape but my big terrabyte storage drive, which is dying, but it's literally just a place where I dump downloads and stuff, so I don't see any correlation to the above behavior (I rarely use it for anything since I know it's failing).

Anyway, just wondering if you guys had any suggestions as to this odd behavior. Any help or insight is very much appreciated.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline Xessive

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 08:01:31 AM »
It is peculiar that a total format didn't resolve the issue. That strongly suggests it's not a software issue. It sounds like one (or more) of your hardware components needs to be replaced.

It could just be a hard drive. Are Skyrim and the videos stored on the same drive? You could try putting a video on a flash drive (USB) and see if that runs any better. If it does then that means the issue is the hard drive. If it's still choppy then the problem could be your CPU, GPU, or even the motherboard itself.

Offline scottws

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 11:11:16 AM »
My first reaction is that you are out of memory and dealing with too much disk caching of memory and its huge (!) performance impact or you have a failing hard drive.  I suspected malware as well but you said you reformatted so I doubt that is it.

What is the percentage of available free disk space on the drive?  Also, check the Windows Event Viewer System log and see if you see any disk errors in there.

Offline Quemaqua

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 02:27:02 PM »
It doesn't seem like hardware to me given that a reboot makes it go away, usually for a good while (maybe even a couple days if I don't use it heavily or leave stuff open), even after just a quick reboot (not a full power down). Which again sort of made me think memory, maybe, as that is easily this PC's biggest failing.

I've run extensive diagnostics on the drives and only one has problems, and again is one I don't really use. The others all seem fine. I did also run a bunch of Spybot/Anti-malware/antivirus checks over the course of a couple weeks, and came up empty there too. I had thought something like that might be going on since sometimes after I shut all my programs the thing still spends 20 minutes reading out of its mind before it settles, but I wasn't able to detect anything, at least.

There are a couple errors in the event viewer, but only a couple, and I'm pretty sure those all related to the big drive. I only saw 3 in like the last 10 days or something, so I'm still fairly sure that's not it.

My drives aren't totally clogged, though fairly full. Have 37 GB on my 84 GBsystem drive, 6 on one of my small 74 GB download/storage drive (no programs run off this), and 17 on my other 195 GB primary use drive. I even manually messed with the virtual memory and set page files on the system and primary drives to 3000-5000 MB. Everything seemed okay for a long time, but it was a year or so ago I guess that I started to notice major performance degradation, and it's just gotten worse as time has gone on. I've actually yet to try running a game or anything after a straight reboot, which I guess I should try to see how that works.

Any suggestions of things I can fiddle with to attempt to narrow it down, or to potentially help if this is indeed a memory issue? Really I suppose I should just go buy some more RAM, but I'm afraid I'm just going to get the wrong thing again. It's been so long since I've built this thing I don't even know where to get compatible RAM now.

(Also, since maybe this doesn't go without saying—I really appreciate you guys taking the time to help.)

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline scottws

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 03:34:46 PM »
I just looked and my computer at work has 8 GB of RAM and 6.5 GB are actively in use (as in used by processes and not SuperFetch or other caching).  So only having 2 GB could definitely be a source of the issue.

Open the Resource Monitor and go to the Memory tab.  Report all the values in the Physical Memory section here.

Offline Quemaqua

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 03:51:49 PM »
Currently the resource monitor reports 1430MB in use, 31 modified, 508 standby, and 88 free. Speccy reports 71% in use, 600 MB available physical, and 8 GB available virtual. When I looked a bit ago before my last reboot when I was applying a couple random driver updates (my motherboard is so old there's no Win 7 driver, they stop at Vista ... and I can't flash the BIOS to the latest version without booting to a flash drive and doing it manually—and I'm sort of not sure if I even should, but that's another matter), it said basically all 2 GB physical was used and there was about 6 GB of the virtual free.

So I guess the memory is filling up after some use, but not clearing up when I close out my programs? I'm not a wiz when it comes to this stuff, so I don't really get it.

My main question is if it is the memory, why did it work fine for ages then suddenly stop? I didn't install anything extravagant or make any big changes. I actually have fewer programs and memory-resident apps going now than I did back when it was working better.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline scottws

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Re:
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 05:29:29 PM »
You could have a program with a memory leak. My Firefox takes almost 400 MB of RAM just when I open it and it goes downhill from there.  Pretty easy to figure out what is using your memory in either task manager or resource monitor.

Offline Quemaqua

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 08:02:41 PM »
But shouldn't that like ... go away when the program is closed? I know Firefox is a memory hog, and I do watch the resource monitor, but I haven't been able to narrow anything down. I think I'm just going to start keeping it open constantly on my other monitor and see if I can't catch it when it quirks out.

Due to Belmont's awesomeness and keeping spare junk around, it looks like I'll be able to test out and see whether or not more RAM will alleviate things. If going up to 4 fixes this, I will be a grateful man.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline scottws

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #8 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 10:03:24 PM »
Yes, most programs terminate when exited.  Some don't though, and stay resident for updating purposes or because there is actually a problem with them that is preventing them from terminating.

Offline Quemaqua

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #9 on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 11:40:33 PM »
Well, I've double-checked on that and tried to find an obvious culprit or two, but never had any luck. At least not as far as being able to pinpoint an offender. It's possible I've just missed something, as my life lately doesn't give me a lot of spare moments to just take time off to mess with this.

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Offline Quemaqua

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Re: PC running like it's got bags of rocks tied to its back.
« Reply #10 on: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 12:19:57 PM »
Okay, so further wrinkles. Belmont sends me some old RAM he doesn't need, I stick it in, everything is great. I then find a cheap video card and decide maybe it's time to get past 512MB, so I get a Geforce GTX 650 at 2GB, plug that in, and nothing works. Bluescreen on startup, a STOP 0x0000007E message. I fiddle with it, and pull out the RAM, and everything boots without issue. I figure the RAM must have fried or something. So then I try those 2 sticks alone ... and it boots. I go out to Frys and get 2 MORE sticks, and same thing. No combination of 4 of these 6 sticks will allow the thing to boot.

But ... RAM doesn't consume a bunch of power? Or at least so I thought. I know it does a little, but I'd thought on the order of like 2-4w/stick or something like that. And when my last power supply blew out, I upgraded to a 600w one ... I'm reasonably sure that should be sustaining me just fine. So what gives? I haven't gone to the trouble of putting the old video card back in to check and see if 4 sticks will boot okay with that, because I don't feel like fucking with all that all over again if I can get a logical answer before having to do so.

Any ideas? I'm at a loss. I'll be rummaging around Google to see if I can dig something up, just thought you guys might be able to answer this with offhand knowledge.

I considered trying to update the BIOS, because it's old as fucking dirt, but I have no idea how. It's no longer supported by anyone and no flashing program supports Win7. I considered trying to boot to a USB stick and do it that way, but don't want to bork anything, and I can't find reliable information even on what I should use to do it (I'm on an old ASUS A8N-SLI Premium mobo with an Athlon 64 X2 4400+.)

EDIT - Well, shit. I made a bootable flash drive, took a chance and flashed the BIOS, and lo and behold, all of a sudden it works with Dustin's RAM. I didn't think that would possibly make any difference, but just did it to do it and exhaust that option. Go figure.
« Last Edit: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 01:45:13 PM by Quemaqua »

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野