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Suddenly slow performance

by Bill Osler / February 5, 2010 8:24 PM PST

I'm not quite sure how to describe this so I can't do an effective search. I have a fairly new laptop with Win 7 Pro, 3 GB RAM, I think I have all high priority updates installed. According to the Control Panel the last program I installed was Google Earth on 1/28 and the PC has been running fine since then. I have Windows Security Essentials for AV. I have not attached or removed any hardware.

Last night I tried moving some music files from C: to D: because the laptop has a relatively small HD. The system seemed sluggish but I assumed it was because of the background copying. The situation did not improve after the copying finished so I rebooted. Shutting down took over 20 minutes and seemed to hang at the "Windows is Shutting Down" screen. I finally forced a power down by holding the power key for several seconds. This morning when I turned the PC on it took about 20 minutes to boot (usually about 30-40 seconds) and ran very slowly. Firefox took about 15-20 minutes to load. Task Manager showed low system activity. I eventually decided to reboot. Shutdown took several minutes, but the restart was more-or-less normal and everything seems normal since then. System performance seems OK even though I'm running a backup to the server in the background.

I've never seen anything quite like this before. I don't have any reason to suspect malware (though I am running a scan). As best I can tell there were no new updates installed overnight. So far I have not found anything that looks 'off'.

Any thoughts or suggestions for testing? I'm not one to believe in spontaneous healing of computer problems, so this troubles me, but I don't know how much looking I should do if the system seems normal now.

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What is that D drive
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 5, 2010 9:07 PM PST

Hi Bill.

You said transferring from C to D. You said you have not attached any hardware, so what is D: ?

Usually of course it is a a CD/DVD drive. If so in this case, what were you using to transfer the files to a CD or DVD?

Many don't consider a USB hard drive to be hardware. But if this is a USB external hard drive, do you normally keep it connected and running when you shut down/start up? If so, try safely removing the hard drive before shutting down.

Server? Tell us more about that.

My initial thoughts: Copying files to CD/DVD using Windows drag and drop may have still been in progress. Or a USB hard drive may be failing.

Glad to see it appears to be working now, but obviously 'something' happened.


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D is a separate partition ...
by Bill Osler / February 6, 2010 12:24 AM PST
In reply to: What is that D drive

Thanks for working on this. You are correct, I was a bit too concise regarding technical details. I don't have an optical drive installed. I do have a flash memory card installed in the SD Memory slot for use as extra paging memory but I don't know if it makes a difference or if it's just filling up a memory slot. I put it in soon after buying the computer and I have not touched it since. There have been no hardware changes.

The hard drive is partitioned in 3 parts. There is a 'hidden' recovery partition. There is the boot partition c: and the 'Data' partition d: The PC came with these partitions pre-installed and I have not altered the partition scheme, though I have considered losing the D: partition and making everything one logical drive.

Anyway, that means I was copying files from one HD partition to another. Windows appeared to finish the copy well before I tried to shut the system down.

The server is my home LAN backup system (HP MediaSmart running WHS SP2). I have a workgroup LAN, not a domain. The server had been offline for several days when I encountered the problem, and was still offline both times I rebooted this AM. I took the server offline a couple of days ago when we started basement renovations (it lives in the basement) but after last night I decided it would be a good idea to get an up-to-date backup in case more problems developed; I did not boot the server until after the PC was working because there is no way I could have made a successful backup while the problem was going on. I'm told that some earlier versions of WHS could create problems with Win 7, but that the current version should not create problems and in any event the problem appeared and then disappeared during a time when the server was continuously offline.

I did discover one thing that MAY be relevant but I'm not sure. It appears that Windows Security Essentials updated its database yesterday evening but I'm not sure if the time matches up with the problems I saw and it does not make sense that a virus definition update would create that big a performance hit persisting into the next boot cycle. If I keep seeing problems when the AV updates I'll have to change AV.

Anyway, I hope this answers your questions?

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Yep, that answers my questions Bill, thanks.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 6, 2010 4:35 AM PST

I like Steven's idea of Indexing.

So, not a server or LAN issue as the server was offline. I have heard of anti-virus definition updates creating false-positives, but you usually get a virus warning when that happens.

A single platter hard drive partitioned into 3 partitions? My simple mind sees a certain logic in a laptop not being as speedy as a desktop in file copying, but that's discounted anyway as the file transfer had finished before you saw the slowdown.

I'm going with Steven's idea at the moment.

Just one thing though... Be prepared. If this is an early sign of imminent failure, you will need to do as much backing up as possible.


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A wild guess
by Steven Haninger / February 6, 2010 12:24 AM PST

Presuming you moved these files to an extended partition, maybe Windows was re-indexing. That process might take longer with files on the same physical drive then on separate ones. If you dare to, you could move a few back and see if the slowdown repeats.

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by TaraS_WinTeam / February 6, 2010 4:58 AM PST
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