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Why does my computer slow to a crawl?

by musicman707 / October 18, 2008 11:46 AM PDT

I have an older computer with Windows XP as the OS. I have a 1.10 Ghz Duron processor, but only 384 MB of RAM. For internet I only have dialup and use Juno as my ISP. I use Firefox 3 as my browser.

Whenever I first power up my computer it runs pretty smoothly. However, I've noticed that whenever I have Juno and Firefox up for very long, eventually my computer processing speed will slow to a crawl and stay that way until I reboot. Once I reboot, the processing speed is fine again, until the next time I've had Juno and Firefox up for a while. Also, the problem continues whether I'm connected to the internet or not, unless I reboot.

Here's some additional info: Many times when my system is at a crawl I notice that my CPU usage is very low, so it's not that the CPU is being overtaxed. I've also checked for spyware and viruses, and so far my anti-virus and anti-spyware programs have not found any problems.

I've noticed this issue seems to be aggravated whenever my screen saver has been up for a while. Also, whenever I'm having this problem I'll have a lot of instances of Firefox and/or Juno "not responding" (usually Firefox). They just seem to hang up and sit there for ever and ever, though the CPU doesn't appear to be doing anything.

Can anyone tell me what's causing this problem?

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Look at task manager.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 18, 2008 12:16 PM PDT

I usually find Firefox grows in memory size the longer it runs. For me the fix is simple. I exit firefox and start it up again. It works for awhile until it grows again.

The screen saver will only aggravate the low memory issue. Try it with a simpler BLANK SCREEN saver or many none at all.

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by musicman707 / October 18, 2008 12:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Look at task manager.

Thanks, Bob, that makes sense. I have noticed that sometimes simply restarting Firefox seems to help the problem, though not always.

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My guess
by Jimmy Greystone / October 18, 2008 12:20 PM PDT

My guess would be the lack of RAM is causing your system to hit virtual memory pretty hard over time, and that is what's causing the slow down.

If you brought your system up to even 512MB of RAM, you'd probably notice a pretty significant difference. I'd personally just go ahead and max out the motherboard with as much RAM as it can handle. Fairly minor investment that will probably yield quite a bit of extra life in that system.

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Thanks, Jimmy.
by musicman707 / October 18, 2008 12:38 PM PDT
In reply to: My guess

That's a great suggestion, and I've actually been thinking about it. I noticed that the CNET question of the week had to do with finding the right kind of RAM for one's system. Any recommendations on this? My system is an older one that uses the previous generation of RAM that isn't sold much anymore. Any suggestions on how to make sure I get the right kind, and where I might be able to buy some?

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by Jimmy Greystone / October 18, 2008 1:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks, Jimmy. has a great memory selection thing on it's website. Then you can either buy the memory from Crucial right then and there, or you can shop around a bit looking for that kind of memory.

Odds are your system uses standard non-DDR SDRAM. PC100 or PC133 almost certainly. A bit difficult to come by, but not impossible. You can check retail options online, and also be sure to check local Craigslist listings. Just be a little careful with those, since you don't tend to have the same level of recourse you do with retail.

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Very helpful, thanks.
by musicman707 / October 18, 2008 1:33 PM PDT
In reply to:

It's been a while since I've looked inside the box, but PC100 sounds right, now that you mention it. Glad to know about I'll check it out. Hopefully my slow connection speed won't create a problem with using the site.

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