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Slow "Network"

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Last Modified: 2013-12-08
HP Compaq Proliant ML110 w/ Server 2000
1GB RAM

- hosts Quickbooks company files (usually has 1 remote user .. rarely 2 .. sometimes 1 local user)
- hosts Service 2000 "S2K" networked automotive application
- is used as workstation for S2K and various web-based app's
- file server for the office

5 Windows XP workstations:
- use the S2K app on the server
- some workstations access files on the server
- 2 are Quickbooks workstations .. usually just 1
- workstations open Word and Excel on files resident on the Server

Trend Micro Worry Free Business Security Service is used on all the computers.
cpu use for the core process is sometimes on the high side but not surprising or alarming as these things go.

The computers and network appear to be free of "parasites"; viruses, etc.

Problems:

The problems aren't new but seem to vary.  In general "the network is too slow" is the complaint.  
In fact, it's probably an app(s) that are being too slow or maybe a web site but I'm working on this because it seems actually much worse than that.

The network is a star topology centered around a new managed switch.  (This was installed to better monitor the network).
I've fairly well surveyed the network, looked for errors and high bandwidth, etc.  I installed a managed switch to help with this.
At one point I found a bad ADSL modem and replaced it.  That helped but now there are more troubles.

****

Sometimes Internet Explorer freezes up.  This can be on the Server or on the Workstations.
Because there are  multiple websites critical to the business, this is a real problem.

I have seen some instances of IE use over 200M of memory .. that seems odd.
I believe that one workstation had 4 or 5 instances of IE running and stopping those processes didn't reduce the number of instances right away.

****

I'm launching off on a quest to fix the problems here so that the business can operate with common performance.  It doesn't have to be *great*, it just has to work.  I have no reason to believe that there are performance problems at the hardware level .. well, there are a couple of computers that could use a bit more RAM but not enough to cause what we're seeing here I don't believe.  For example, there is an XP workstation that has 1GB RAM (my current notion of "minimum" for XP) and that one is showing not enough memory at times.  

I'm looking for high-leverage hypotheses to test.  This one has me stumped.  For one thing, they don't always tell me when there's a problem so I come into these things without as much history as I'd like.  And then, it's sometimes hard to capture a "failed" system.  But yesterday I saw the problems described above.  So I'm feeling that this is a good time to investigate .. and hopefully fix once and for all!!

I'm going to post another related question about how to re-architect the system.  I have my own ideas about doing that.  But THIS is not that question please.
What should I be looking for?
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