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Old 10-06-2009, 11:37 PM   #1
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Default How the hell do you make a computer run this slow?

Once again my mother in law has screwed up her computer (this will be three times in the past 3-4 years). The last time I just bought her a laptop and retired her old desktop. I just got back from her house and her laptop (about a year old) runs so slow that it takes about 5-10 minutes to load MS Word or IE. I don't get it. I installed spybot and AVG when I first bought it for her. Both programs fail to find any problems. The drive is not fragmented and I don't see anything suspicious in regedit under "Run or Run Once". I'm going to wipe the drive and start from scratch but I would really like to figure out what she is doing. I can remember her last computer was slow as hell like this and also (just like this one) had strange audio problems (i.e. the windows startup sound has a very funky stuttering effect). I would bet that WinXP (on a restart) took about 5 minutes before the desktop was visible and then several more minutes before I was able to click on anything. As far as I know, she really only uses it for email and some light web surfing. I could understand how MY computer would get slow (I install and uninstall 100+ programs a year on it) but she barely uses the thing. Any ideas on what to look for? Again, I am going to reformat it (really just to annoy her <G>) but I am curious as to what she is doing to it. I will probably run Bazooka or something similar to search for other programs installed or running in the background before wiping everything. There is just no way that my 6 year old laptop should be running faster than her 1 year old laptop.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:40 PM   #2
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could be a failing hard drive. any drive errors reported under event viewer?
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:43 PM   #3
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I don't have the computer in front of me (left it with her and will have it in a day or two for the reformat) but I would say that after fixing her stuff two other times the problem is user related.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:46 PM   #4
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try running hijackthis
HijackThis - Trend Micro USA
HijackThis Tutorial - How to use HijackThis to remove Browser Hijackers & Spyware

if it's not software, it's hardware. if the machine is over 3 years old, definitely swap out the hard drive. they're so cheap. pick up one of those fancy USB-to-any kind of hard drive adapters. bitchin tool.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by y8s View Post
try running hijackthis
HijackThis - Trend Micro USA
HijackThis Tutorial - How to use HijackThis to remove Browser Hijackers & Spyware

if it's not software, it's hardware. if the machine is over 3 years old, definitely swap out the hard drive. they're so cheap. pick up one of those fancy USB-to-any kind of hard drive adapters. bitchin tool.
Yeah, I did hijack and bazooka on her last computer (forgot about hijack, thanks for reminding me!). Neither one found anything. This laptop is only 1 year old. I'll probably pull the drive, use my bitchin tool to make a ghost of it, and then drop it back in for the redo. I should find out pretty quickly if it is a hardware issue. My money is on it being screwed up by her yet again. I've never had a computer do this. What does the rest of the world do to their computers (have friends who report problems like this as well).
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:15 AM   #6
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bloatware?
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:29 AM   #7
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:36 AM   #8
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Backup and reformat.
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:50 AM   #9
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Defragg anyways, and then report back on how long it took

My current computer does something similar (desktop), I need to wait 3-4 after seeing the desktop (which from pressing the power button takes about 1.5 min) which is when the whole thing goes black for a second and once its back everything works great. If I try to do anything before it turns black it doesn't do much, at least with the internet.

Anyways, just make sure once it's working again, she's shutting it down every day, along with defragging the hd and keeping up with windows updates and virus scans.
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:52 AM   #10
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buy her a mac.
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Old 10-07-2009, 01:53 AM   #11
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Defragg anyways, and then report back on how long it took
I have not done it to her computer but she said it only took a few minutes to defrag (I think she does it every day).
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Old 10-07-2009, 04:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by urbansoot View Post
buy her a mac.
+ ∞
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:04 AM   #13
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****. LOL

Man my girl kills computers too. Music, pictures, and who knows.

i'm just going to keep a restore disk around.
Good Luck!
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Old 10-07-2009, 09:31 AM   #14
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I'm using here at work a 3.00Ghz P4 with 2GB of ram and I want to shoot myself. I asked for a new computer for the 2010 fiscal year and my boss laughed at me.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:25 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by rmcelwee View Post
defrag (I think she does it every day).
Dear god, why? I think you just answered the question about her drive being toast.
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:24 AM   #16
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^this.

Also Bullguard.com you can use it free for 60 or 90 days, I never remember which. It is IMHO -the best- virus scanner available.
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:47 AM   #17
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could be a failing hard drive. Any drive errors reported under event viewer?
+1
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:49 AM   #18
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Have you looked at the running processes?
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSoot View Post
buy her a mac.
I don't know...my super-reliable iMac has been ******* slow as molasses since installing Panther. My wife officially hates it now.
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Old 10-07-2009, 01:06 PM   #20
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Panther? A 6 year old operating system, that might be an issue.

10.6 seems to run fine on my MacBook Pro, really not a lot of difference from 10.5.x

As to the original problem. You must dig a little deeper to find the issue, as it is most certainly a software problem. Failing HDs don't normally appear to get slower, it isn't like they are wearing out and just getting sluggish. If it is having real issues you'd know about it. Does event view show any errors?

Chances are she clicked on an email and executed some bit of code that has now hijacked the computer. Look at the amount of network activity, if it is lit up like a christmas tree the machine could be a zombie. Or it could have any number of things running on it now that aren't detectable by AV or some squiddy shareware scanner. Most scanners only use a small fraction of their signature databases to scan realtime, if the code is able to sneak past the AV and has elevated privileges ... well you be fucked.

All the AV and patching won't do any good if the user executes code that has "bad stuff" in it. A (stateful) firewall won't help if the bit of code uses a call back mechanism. Does she run under an administrator account? How secure was the password?

In cases like this I like think of the immortal words of Lt. Ripley:

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. "

Format that hard drive and call it a day. Secure the machine properly and don't rely on AV or ad-ware scanners to catch ****.
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