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Performance bottleneck due to disk activity XP Pro

Posted on 2009-05-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I have been experiencing a serious performance problem on my PC for over a year now. I only use the PC for light work and yet sometimes if I click from one email to another in outlook I will get about 30 seconds of HDD activity before it opens the next email. I get the same if I try and open firefox.
I just tried to go into System properties>Advanced>under visual effects selected best performance. I do this a lot for third party machines and it takes 15-20 seconds to take effect. My PC waited over 2 minutes.. I just cant figure out what it is. Its like ther is some disc cache that has no purpose. This is a 3.6GHz P4 with 2G of Ram. I look in task manager when it is thrashing and CPU idle is 99%. Are there any system tools that can tell me what this machine is doing?
Thanks
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Question by:Fubschuk
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18 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ddanonimity
ID: 24406752
you could looka at sisoft sandra lite. It has benchmarking tools on it
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:arixsin
ID: 24406767
How old is your OS install?  It seriously sounds like a reinstall is in order.  
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:skywalker39
ID: 24406825
Have you checked your system for any types of virus/malware/spyware? Here's some good links.

http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
http://www.superantispyware.com/
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix
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LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24406869
For me that sounds like a hardware problem. Either your disk is giving up very soon, or some other hardware is blocking internal busses like PCI. I would start a SMART tool,l if you can get one, to see whether the former is the case. SMART tools are available from most harddisk manufactors, and part of good diagnostic software; even SpeedFan has one built-in.
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Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24407040
Wow thanks for the quick response.
The OS is very old since release zero.
I am loathed to do a re instal as I have so many apps. Surely you can get back to virgin speed without having to reinstal.?

Yes Malaware and AVg says I am clean, I also use HJT
I did think this was a HW problem but its just been too long. Also I am now noticing with the Outlook client off then it is much faster. This is certainly an Outlook issue I think. My mail box did have 4000 emails in it. I have just reduced that to 1800. There is stilla lot of thrashing. I am going to now do a defrag to see if this speeds up the loaclly cached box.
Will take a look at the sisoft sandra lite now.
Thanks for your help so far.
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LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24407059
No, you "can't get back to virgin speed without having to reinstall". It's the most effective way (measured in performance gain). Of course the installation of all needed programs is not summed up in that calculation ;-)

Should you be able to drill the problem down to Outlook, I recommend to create an additional PST file, putting everything not really needed at hand therein. That's the way I use it - normal PST for all stuff I'm working on or have to work on later, or await answer, and one big PST for the "archive" of yet current and important correspondance.
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Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24407073
I am interested that you cant get back to a new instal speed. What exectly are the cumulative issues that slow down an OS and I wonder why has someone not developed a tool to fix it? I would certainly purchase one.

Are you saying that my folders will also impact on the speed of Outlook as i have a massive archive of stuff. I am loathed to do any dual PST trickery as I have more than one pc that I work from.
Thanks again Qlemo. Your fast.....
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LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:skywalker39
ID: 24407119
There really isn't a tool to fix it. OS's slow down over time from installing, uninstalling, moving files around ect. If you want your OS to fast from the beginning, your best bet would be to format and do a reinstall.
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LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24407144
Ohhh yes, definitely will much too many of much folders and mails slow down Outlook. Remember, it is a single, big file, which has to be maintained all the time. Worse it gets if you have Windows Search running on Outlook, then it will try to read big parts of PST files from time to time ...

Well, why hasn't somebody written tools to make things faster? They have tried, and it is all for nothing. Defragmentation, deinstallation, registry defrag (which is indeed a re-creation at boot time), all are improving performance in a one-digit-percentage each. The OS is collecting so much of inventory information, installers (MSI), temporary data, ..., that the big trick is really and only re-install. A famous German computer magazine for professionals, c't, has tested this to its extremes, and I trust their results ;-) It's the same from my experience with all Windows OS since NT3 (I know, it's prehistoric).

0
 

Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24710797
Damn.. Before I have to agree on an install and award you all the points I am going to ask a question that I already know the answer to..
What about the very old versions of software installed that I no longer have the instal disks or even licence keys for.. I guess they die when I reinstall the OS. ?
Is there any way of transplanting the registry for that software so it will run on the new PC or will this vary according to vendors?

I think a new PC for day to day use and a KVM to the old machine. I gues once I uninstall everything that I can transfer then the old PC may be a bit more bearable.
Tks
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LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24711805
You could convert the machine into a VM (VMWare Converter is free and works), so you won't need a KVM and second computer. (ok, you will need another PC for the convertion procedure; on the other hand can convert on the old machine to an external harddisk instead).

The usual registry keys are HKLM\Software\<company>\<product>, similar to the Program Files folder. The same key will exist under HKCU for personal settings.

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Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24711853
Qlemo, THis sounds interesting.
So I get a new machine.. Then convert all of my old machine to a VM on the new machine.
I can then use my legacy installations on the VM.
Is that correct ?
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LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24711927
Yes. That's one of many common reasons for using VMs - to have legacy applications running on new hardware.
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Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24712140
That seems like the perfect solution.
Where do I get this VM product and how can I convert my entire machine?

Tks
0
 
LVL 71

Accepted Solution

by:
Qlemo earned 2000 total points
ID: 24712375
Look at VMWare.com for "VMWare Server" (http://www.vmware.com/download/server/) and "VMWare Converter" (http://www.vmware.com/download/converter/).

The latter is to be installed on one machine you want to control the converting process with. It can be the machine you want to convert, but I do not recommend this. Start it, press "convert machine", and follow the step-by-step instruction.

To run the VM, you can use VMware Player (and not change VM settings), or install the VMware Server and have full control.
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Author Comment

by:Fubschuk
ID: 24713035
So just to be clear.
I should get a virgin machine.
Instal the VMware convertor on that. (Not the old machine)
I then convert my old machine (How do I connect to it to do the conversion or do I remount the HDD locally)

I can then run this VM on my new PC using VM player (Where do I get this?)
Or by installing VMserver to have full control of the VM Machine.

Do I understand this correctly?
0
 
LVL 71

Expert Comment

by:Qlemo
ID: 24713064
For convertion, you need either network access, and a share reachable from both PCs (preferred not on the old machine), or install the converter locally and convert to external HD.
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