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Win98: PC Stalls Out sporadically

We run a peer-to-peer network of 8 PC's, most using Windows 98SE.  One PC has recently developed the quirk of sporadically becoming extremely slow--a mouse click can take several minutes.  The hard drive light flickers during this time period.  This PC also acts as a server for an Access database and it serves this function fine while waiting for a mouse click to complete.  

I have done a DiskScan and Defrag to no avail. I have done a virus scan, not finding anything.  I have used MSCONFIG and PC StartUp Cop to see if anything unusual is running--everything seems normal.  I have done a port scan to detect open ports--none are open.

Any suggestions of how I should proceed now?
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cccgsmith
Asked:
cccgsmith
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1 Solution
 
SysExpertCommented:
1) How often is this PC rebooted ?

2) When did it start happening.

3) Have you updated all the hardware drivers ?

4) Have you done a Start- windowsupdate ?

5) Do you have the latest patches ?

6) Have you tried a different mouse ?

7) have you run a hardware diagnostics on everything ?

I hope this helps !
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ITsheresomewhereCommented:
Since it is acting as the Access database server and the problem seems to have been "recently", have there been any material changes to useage of the database? Such as large increase in number of records due to business changes or special projects, new queries that are extensive in nature, special or new reports.  Any material change that would require the database to work harder thus demanding more processor attention, does databse maintenance need to be done.  

Just something to consider

ITsy
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stevenlewisCommented:
try running system monitor, and monitor processor usage, and memory usage
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RickHulshofCommented:
Try also compacting the access database - This might help as well.

Regards,

Rick
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cccgsmithAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comments.  Here is some more information and comments that may help:
1) The system is rebooted several times a day with this problem.  It frequently locks up, due I believe, to people being impatient with its slowness and trying several things, developing internal conflicts that can't be resolved within the system.  

2)  The problem started a couple of weeks ago, the day after I left for vacation!  I was gone for ten days and have spent a good share of this week trying to resolve the problem.

3) I have not updated anything recently, except MS Critical Updates, since no changes were made to the system.  Up to this point, I have been going on the assumption that the problem was due to a virus tying up resources.

4)  I have not tried another mouse.  I am currently using a MS Optical Mouse, which I have really liked.

5)  What do you suggest for hardware diagnostics?

6)  No major changes have been made to the database, so I really do not believe that it is the problem.  It seems to run fine.  I am the only one that makes changes to it other than the addition/maintenance of records by the office staff.

7)  I will try the system monitor--had not thought of it.  

I am not currently at the site and am there only a few hours each day, but will let you know what is happening.

Thanks again.
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jpandersonCommented:
Do you have a wireless mouse, if so change the batteries.
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SysExpertCommented:
Have you done a good virus check ?

Also - A hardware DIag is in order since it could be a RAM/ IDE controller/ motherboard or hard drive problem.

I hope this helps !
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borleymsgsCommented:
By using System Monitor, I narrowed the problem down to my ArGoSoft Mail Server program.  When running with the bare minimum of programs (Explorer, ZoneAlarm firewall, and Norton Anti-Virus), my Kernel Processor % hovers around 7%.  However, whenever I start the Mail Server program, it sky rockets to a consistent 100%!

Another discovery I made, by looking at files contained in the outbox folder of my mail server folder, is that the same afternoon that I left starting at 4:00 PM and ending at 3:00 AM the next morning, the PC sent over 21,000  messages, each with 5 addresses they were sent to, none of which were our messages.  So, I've obviously been hacked.

Now my current questions:
1) How should I proceed?  Any suggestions appreciated.
2) How do I prevent it from happening again?  
3) Even though it does not seem to be a hardware failure, what are your recommendations for hardware diagnostic software?

Thanks.
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RickHulshofCommented:
OK - My humble advice - To start someone may have gotten a Trojan onto your System. I would download the free trial of Trojan Remover from http://www.simplysup.com and run it first. Also one more Virus check - do an online scan as alot of these viruses / trojans get hold of your system they can hide from the AV program. Goto http://www.housecall.antivirus.com and do an online virus scan (I usually do without registering to save the spam mailbox account) Also do both these on all other 8 network machines as one of them may be using yours to do this.

Good Luck,

Rick
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stevenlewisCommented:
Even though it does not seem to be a hardware failure, what are your recommendations for hardware
diagnostic software
Sisoft SANDRA
How should I proceed?  Any suggestions appreciated.
2) How do I prevent it from happening again?  
Set up rules only allowing mail from your domain to be sent (no forwarding allowed, my isp won't allow me to use another mail server to send mail)
check for trojans as advised above
The isp I worked for had a similar problem with post office, and ended up having to uninstall and reinstall :~(
We also had one subdomain that was flooding the server with out going messages, and we had to add them back one at a time until we found the culprit.Turned out someone was using that sub as a forwarder.
check the headers of the offending messages to see if one of your users is using your system as a mass mailer
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jatcanCommented:
watching
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cccgsmithAuthor Commented:
stevenlewis led me to the source of the problem by suggesting System Monitor plus answered some associated questions.  I appreciated the virus and trojan checking suggestions of Rickhuldorf and utilized them, too, but they found nothing.  But, I was glad they found nothing!

The root of my problem was that SMTP Authentication was not being utilized, thus I was wide open to spamming.  Plus all of the files were in my server outbox, so my resources were being used up trying to send all of these files.  Once I deleted these files, things got back to normal.

Thanks for the guidance.
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stevenlewisCommented:
cccgsmith Glad we could help
Steve
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jatcanCommented:
Just curious as to WHAT you used to do the port scan...?And did sci-soft sandra(I like that software too!)report a problem device?
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cccgsmithAuthor Commented:
I used Probe My Ports available from Gibson Research Corporation at www.grc.com.  I have not used sandra, although I'd like to sometime in the future--since my problem seems to be have subsided, I put it on the back burner.
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