Solving the common issues with a slow PC/Laptop.

kp7
kp7 used Ask the Experts™
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More and more we see clients PC's/Laptop's with the same problem.  Running slow.

We all know that a slow PC/Laptop can be caused by many things i.e Low Ram, Bad Sectors and iconsistencies on the hard disk, malware and so on.

However lets say that the PC has plenty of RAM, Hard Disk is healthy (after running manufacturers diagnostics & chkdsk), no Malware, system resources healthy, defrag complete.

But start up is slow & windows can be slow.  Everything points to a issue with the Hard Disk.

Is there anything i'm missing or any tools out there that can diagnose problems like this.

Sorry for this being more a general question than a specific PC issue.  But I feel we are missing something out of our general diagnostic checks.

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.
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Darren SharplesSystems Specialist

Commented:
Are all your windows updates done? do you have a specific laptop/pc you are struggling with? if so can you give details of the make/model/os/spec etc?
One thing worth looking into is the power settings for the laptop.

I've had a computer where the power setting was set very aggressively and the CPU would be throttled down to a crawl even on AC power.
Darren SharplesSystems Specialist

Commented:
Check things like drivers and ensure they are up to date, chipset and graphics are the more important ones when looking at performance
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Commented:
Try Soluto http://download.cnet.com/Soluto/3000-18512_4-75446583.html for slow startups.  It may find the problems.

Also look at your anti-virus.  That may be doing a boot scan and thus slowing everything down.
If drive is IDE, see it has gone into PIO mode; this is an incredibly common problem:  Control Panel/System/Device Manager/IDE/ATA/ATAPI controllers/, then check each IDE channel.

Check for rootkits as well as viruses.

Check CPU temperature; CPU will go into slowdown/crippled mode if it gets too hot due to fan not running, or caked with dust.
Commented:
Make sure it is not just congestion.

Download, install, and run cCleaner: http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

Also click start > type msconfig and uncheck any programs under the startup tab that do not need to always be running.
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
i assume you are missing the fact that the disk can run in PIO mode, instead of DMA; and then it gets REALLY slow :  http://winhlp.com/node/10      

otherwise, a fresh install cleans out all accumulated "software dust", which i suggest to do every year or 2

Commented:
Is there any common software/app installed on all your slow pc? Let focus on 1 pc and check if there is any resources contention.
kp7

Author

Commented:
Firstly thanks for all the responses everyone.  I am going to work through the suggestions over the next day or so on a couple of Clients systems.

With this being more a general issue.  The systems we come across are all so different, and the weird thing is it's not something that we come across on all systems.  

As mentioned in the opening post the system resources are always good and we make sure the system has plenty of RAM, the Hard Disk comes through the mentioned diagnostic checks and the latest Updates including Service Packs and Plug-ins are installed.  We also assess there antivirus product and we usually recommend either Kaspersky or eset but still have the issues when the Antivirus is disabled/removed.

But the common symptom with these types of systems seems to be excessive Hard Disk activity especially on start up and sometimes you can audibly here the Hard Disk really active as if its struggling to find what it want's right away.

We have introduced Registry Cleaners & Third-Party Defrag programs.  But although they improve some systems not all of the troublesome ones improve.

We do opt allot of the time for a full system reload if we feel we have tried everything and often perform a zero filling/low level format first.  Off course this always solves the problem but I was just thinking am i missing something out?

I'm sorry the question is a bit vague and not for a specific system.  But we seem to come across this issue more and more often.  As if the hard disk is either badly fragmented or has lots of iconsistancies.  But all of the normal Manufactures Hard Disk tests and chkdsk's come back successful.  

Thanks again everyone and I will run through the suggestions.

Thank you.
I always find a clean install of the OS an fix the speed issue, especially if lots of programs are installed and removed over the years.

of course it can be OS related, i have noticed a speed increase with win 7 versus vista before.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
did you check the PIO/DMA setting, as per my post ? i saw nothing referring to it
kp7

Author

Commented:
Thanks everyone again for the suggestions.

After going through several systems varying in spec and condition.  I guess as previously mentioned there isn't one guaranteed procedure that will solve every problem regarding slow performance.

It seems in the end the only answer with some systems seems to be a Full System Reload.

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions and I have added new steps to my future fault finding procedure.

Thank you everyone for your time and suggestions.

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