at the end of my rope with my laptop; am looking for advixe

Jan 19, 2017 12:09PM PST

I own a dell inspiron 17R with windows 8. I've had this system for over 3 years and I have barely had any issues. However, as of Monday evening, after booting my laptop up once I came back from work my laptop has since moved extremely slowly to the point where no matter how many times I attempt to reboot the computer will move ridiculously slowly to the point of unusability. The laptop loads perfectly but as soon as I log in (since you have to sign in on windows Cool the system MIGHT load in the bottom taskbar but it will give up after that and as soon as the screensaver comes up from inactivity the screen will just refuse to show up at all afterwards.
I am at the end of my rope and honestly just considering trashing the whole thing because I can't even get to safe mode to at least try to salvage what files I have left.

If anyone has any idea what to do I would love the help If ppssible

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Clarification Request
Maybe the laptop
Jan 20, 2017 5:26PM PST

was installing updates ?
If you can, disable the screensaver .
Just guessing here ....

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Clarification Request
Your drive
Jan 20, 2017 6:29PM PST

Is it an HDD or an SDD? If an SDD, a lot of advice given here doesn't apply to it.

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Has any tech looked at it?
Jan 19, 2017 12:21PM PST

I've seen a lot of similar complaints over the years and in the last few years traced such to failing drives.

Did any tech look at this and suggest a new HDD?

As to saving files, boot SAFE MODE and save your files while you can.

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not yet
Jan 19, 2017 12:33PM PST

I have heard similar things from information that I myself have looked up. It ends up being either a failing drive or a specific process that causes this mess but since the computer stalls out before I get a clue as to what is happening I really cannot make sure myself

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Adding this.
Jan 19, 2017 12:40PM PST

I've seen owners stall looking for the cause and the drive fails entirely. HDDs are cheap. 500GB on amazon is under 40. A nice 240GB SSD would be about 50ish and make the machine feel like new.

Backups are not optional with PCs. Get your files out while you can. Safe Mode, is the first idea then others like to removing the HDD to some external USB case (20 bucks?) to copy out on another computer.

Step 1. Save your files to backups.
Step 2. Fix the laptop or chuck it.

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Your stuff
Jan 20, 2017 6:36PM PST

Either take the hdd to another machine and try to copy out your files or on another machine grab a copy of linux.
Put it on optical or an usb stick and boot it up on your machine.
See if you can copy out now.

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old laptops need replacing
Jan 20, 2017 12:51PM PST

I've got a 10 year old Sony vaio and its getting toward the end of its useful life. It takes a long time to boot up and sometimes freezes up, requiring a restart. My wife says she gets frustrated and wants to get a new laptop soon. We save a lot of pictures on it so wonder if all that hard drive memory being used for that would cause a slow down and instability. Or if cleaning up the storage would help. At least temporarily to extend the life until we get around to getting a new laptop. Anybody think that putting the pictures on another storage device would help improve performance? Thanks.

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Re: old laptop
Jan 20, 2017 12:59PM PST

Unless your hard disk is very full (>90%) and not defragged, moving your pictures to another place (external hard disk, cloud, USB-stick) won't make any difference.

But with such an old laptop, if you don't already have a backup copy on another place (external hard disk, cloud, USB-stick), I'd do that immediately, because the risk you lose them all is rather big. And then, when you have that backup copy (preferably 2 on different storage devices!) you can delete the whole bunch on your laptop and see for yourself that it doesn't make any difference.

Of course, it doesn't harm to regularly use the Disk cleanup wizard that is in your version of Windows (XP?). It might make your laptop a little bit faster, but don't reckon on it. Deleting all but the latest system restore point is another option with the same effect.

Post was last edited on January 20, 2017 1:02 PM PST

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old laptops need replacing
Jan 20, 2017 3:35PM PST

Thanks for the advice. I'll check the disk storage and see where its at. I do have an external hard disk backup attached to my laptop so its supposed to automatically save and update my hard drive whenever there is changes. I'll try doing a disk clean up and defrag, which I've done sporadically in the past. Its got Windows Vista, the original os. Wonder about that, I heard people weren't crazy about Vista back then.

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I have a 2009 Sony Vaio laptop.
Jan 20, 2017 1:01PM PST

It's doing great. But the original HDD did fail and had to be replaced. Before that it was taking far too long to boot. Now with a new HDD and W10 it boots in a minute or so.

To get by for now.

1. Be sure you are using the canned air on the vents every 1st of the month.
2. Consider changing the HDD to SSD for a big speedup at low cost.
3. As to the pictures, I'll write no unless the HDD is nearly full.

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Your laptop may be salvagable! fear not
Jan 20, 2017 3:24PM PST

First off you want to get the computer running smoothly, I suggest downloading a program called CCleaner, it is available from CNET Downloads It is Freeware and what it does it is cleans out cache and temp files from the computer, this helps out a lot and speeds up response time.. once you have run the ccleaner program you might consider downloading MalwareBytes.. It is also available from CNET downloads for free.. Install MalwareBytes and update the software once it is installed.. Run Malwarebytes and get the system scanned.. there is a possibility that malicious software could be causing your problems.. once you have cleaned the system using these you may want to go in the drive properties and run a Disk scan with a check in the box to repair bad sectors while it is being scanned.. I would also Defrag the hard drive while you are at it.. if you have any questions E-mail me at if you have any questions..

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old laptops need replacing
Jan 20, 2017 3:38PM PST

I do have ccleaner which I have run but maybe needed to run more often now that the laptop is old. I'll try the MalwareBytes too and see how that goes. Thanks for tip. I'll also try doing a scan disk and defrag too. Want to make sure my backup hard drive is auto updating my hd. I think it is, just have to check. I'm still running the original OS, Windows Vista. Wonder if that needs updating. Shocked Thanks much.

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Jan 20, 2017 4:12PM PST

You know, whatever I did for Vista it never really took off and flew like other versions of Windows.

I finally have removed all Vista machines from office, home and lab. We don't test on Vista anymore.

I know this doesn't help but I found Vista unresponsive to upgrades and more that helped XP to 10.

-> Read below about CHKDSK. AFTER you backup your stuff, do that.

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That said Bob.
Jan 20, 2017 4:27PM PST

I completely ignored Vista after reading reviews.

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Its not as if folk didn't figure it out.
Jan 20, 2017 7:56PM PST
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There is still rope left.
Jan 20, 2017 3:34PM PST

WHY????????? Does every technical answer I see about slow computers ignore CHKDSK???
Being that you are describing your computer as SUPER slow, you probably do have a bad HDD, BUT...You may be able to revive it, though it may not be worth the effort.
FIRST, get your stuff backed up. This may be painfully slow at this point. If you already have a backup, kudos to you.
Then ask yourself it the laptop has had any abrupt stops recently - as in a fall. If so you can probably stop there and get a new HDD.
If not, once you are backed up, when the system is fully booted up, Open a CMD prompt and type this...
CHKDSK C: /f (enter)
then walk away for a LONG time. I mean, in the condition you describe, maybe for 24 hours. If it is still running after that, forget it.
If it completes, it should be running fairly well. Now run, in a CMD as admin window --
SFC /SCANNOW. This could take a while also and may complete without fixing some problems. You will then need to try to fix them using DISM. Find instructions here
After that look at the S.M.A.R.T. data - google it - and decide if the drive really does need replacing.

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Jan 21, 2017 2:40AM PST

First read through, I failed to notice where we switched from a Windows 8 Dell to a Vista Sony!

Getting back to the OP's Dell, it would look like the HDD might be the most likely culprit but equally, it could be some other component timing out or even a memory error that is constantly correcting.

You say that it won't now boot to safe mode, which eliminates most of the software issues, since safe mode is not trying to load a whole raft of drivers. Did you try debug mode in the boot type menu? Logically, that shouldn't work either but I did have a laptop one time where that was the ONLY mode that would boot - but it never flagged an error!

Clearly, though, the first thing you must do is try to get the files you need off the hard disk and so you need to boot something. In such cases where the primary system won't boot, I've used a couple of live CD tools - if you don't have a CD, you can use a USB stick instead.

One tool is Knoppix, a live CD version of Linux, specifically for diagnostic work. Don't worry, it comes up to a GUI and there should be an icon for your hard drive, which you can click on and work down the directory tree to the files you want and copy them to another external drive. A couple of cautions, my version is old, 10 years maybe version 3.4, newer versions may behave differently and Knoppix comes from Germany, so when it boots, you need to specify lang=us in the options. Yes, it can read NTFS files,

The other tool is the bootable CD version of Partition Wizard. It uses a Linux base but you never see it. Once booted, it will show you all the partitions on your hard disk. Two tools can be useful, one is a disk check utility from one of the top menu dropdowns (varies by release). That would confirm the condition of your disk, which may suggest an approach. It's other tool is a disk copy (i.e. clone) to another drive, so if you have multiple partitions, it may be able to copy some of them to an external HDD. Note that it will need as much space on the clone as the original and the space must be unallocated and unformatted. Be VERY careful with this program, it will attempt to do whatever you tell it, so be extremely careful not to specify your system disk as output!!!

if you can get your system to boot to Windows, you might want to try a small utility called Testdisk (Google it), which has a plethora of disk management software in it but I think it's only for Windows.

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Perform the following steps
Jan 21, 2017 9:31AM PST

First try to copy all your data to an external device.

Perform the following steps in the following order (assuming you are running with an HDD rather than an SSD). Reboot after each successfully completed step.

1. Perform chkdsk. To do this, boot to your C:/ prompt and type chkdsk c: /f. This could run for quite some time, but if it runs for more than about four hours or so then it is probably time for a new hard drive. I suggest an SSD.

2. Perform a system file check. To do this, again go to your C:/ prompt and type sfc /scannow. If your laptop was configured properly when you bought it, it should automatically fix any errors.

3. Boot it and scan it for malware using an up-to-date anti-malware application.

4. Run ccleaner.

5. Run a good anti-adware application, like Spybot Search & Destroy (bringing it up to date first). Sometimes this step can have the biggest impact

6. Clean the registry (ccleaner is good for this step). Note that I have never had any noticeable speedup from cleaning the registry, but do it anyway.

7. Defragment the hard drive.

If all this fails to speed you up, there are two more steps you can take:

1. Update the BIOS. You can obtain the most recent version and instructions from your laptop manufacturer's website. I once had a computer speed up very nicely after doing this.

2. Reinstall the operating system from the initial distribution. This will require you to reinstall all your applications.

If none of this works, it's time for a new laptop.

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Compressed Air
Jan 21, 2017 1:19PM PST

From your local computer or office supply store get a can of compressed air. Do NOT shake the can before use. Be sure to plug in the tiny tube/drinking straw that's taped to the can; it plugs into the can's nozzle. With the laptop powered off spray a couple of short bursts of compressed air into any ventilation holes or slots you can find on the rear, sides and bottom of the laptop. I repeat, do NOT shake the can! You may wish to do this task outdoors just in case a cloud of dust comes out of the exit vents.

Then, as others have said, use an anti-virus/anti-malware scanner loaded on a blank CD or DVD to boot up and run a full scan. You can run Linux from a CD or DVD and use it to copy wanted data from the laptop's drive onto an external drive or flashdrive. Or, remove the drive and connect it to a different computer to access data and copy it, but be sure to virus-scan it before doing that.

Run a memory test to see if you have a faulty stick of RAM memory which could be causing slowdowns/freezes.

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Time to reinstall
Jan 23, 2017 9:07AM PST

I suggest you reinstall Windows. Make a list of all your programs, so you can install them afterward. It's probable one of your programs (apps) is causing this slowdown. I'm betting after a clean install it will work much faster.

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Not Necessarily
Jan 23, 2017 9:55AM PST

It's true that doing a fresh install of Windows plus your programs often improves the responsiveness of the system in general, yet i would point out that it won't overcome slowdowns caused by excessive heat, malware infection or insufficient memory. That's why we suggest checking/fixing those things first if possible. A thorough virus and malware scan can be done while you drive to the nearest office supply or computer store to buy a $5 can of compressed air and, if you can afford it, some additional RAM memory. Really, these are basic steps - scan, blow the dust out, and boost performance with extra memory. If you find you NEED to go all the way by reinstalling Windows then at least you know the rest of the system is ready to make the most of it. Personally, if reinstalling is necessary, this would be the moment to replace a regular hard drive wih an SSD and make the system really fast and responsive!

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