Stef’s Computer Slowly Limping Along

The computer is definitely not well. I poked and prodded. There are no simple signs it’s got a virus, but that’s probably what’s gone on, or possibly some out-of-control Facebook applet.

Oy! Stef was on the phone yesterday afternoon. Her laptop is running at stone age speed. She’s an hour and a half from here so I used for some remote access.

I’ve written about Logmein here and on I used the remote access package they gave me for my AppScout story, but the free product would have worked–albeit, it’s tough to explain how to install it to my non-tech daughter.

The computer is definitely not well. I poked and prodded. There are no simple signs it’s got a virus, but that’s probably what’s happened… or possibly some out-of-control Facebook applet. The CPU was running at 100% but all the cycles looked to be assigned to programs that were supposed to be running. Maybe something is leeching onto already running programs?

I ran CCleaner (it was originally called Crap Cleaner) purged the caches and trash, checked the registry and rebooted. It came back close to it’s real self. I left a note for Stef and shut it down.

Unfortunately after five minutes of use today the problems were back. She’d started AOL IM and Facebook–nothing else.

Tonight around 7:00 I’ll jump back into her machine. Maybe there’s something I missed I can try? If not we swap.

I’ve got an older laptop which I’ll bring to Stef tonight (actually, we’ll meet halfway). As I type it’s running through some disk maintenance routines. It is much slower than her Dell–when her Dell isn’t slow itself.

It is frustrating I can’t find this problem. That’s something I normally do without much trouble.

7 thoughts on “Stef’s Computer Slowly Limping Along”

  1. “She’d started AOL IM and Facebook–nothing else.”

    First off, ditch AIM. Use Pidgin on the machine. Much smaller footprint than the official AIM client.

    Second, what OS? And what service pack of the OS?

    In addition to the aforementioned CC Cleaner, I’d also recommend running something like Process Controller (it’s made by k23productions) to see what’s mucking around in there. Plus the usual AV and Spyware scans. (Here’s a plug for Spybot S&D, which is still my favorite.)

  2. Couldn’t agree more about AOL IM. What a leech. My daughter uses it and then complains that system locks up and runs slow. She doesn’t want to hear that that is the problem. We have to figure out tech support on our daughter’s main processor!!!

  3. Geoff,

    I’ve seen similar problems before. It could be some kind of spyware type app that is bogging the computer down. Sometimes these things get so embedded that they are nearly impossible to find and worse, impossible to get rid of. My suggestion…swap laptops, backup her data, and run the Dell restore CD.

  4. I worked on this again overnight. Her school requires McAfee, which I ran twice. It found nothing but cookies. I re-cleaned the histories, caches and recycle bin. After a reboot the computer was running normally. The second McAfee took an hour versus almost five the first time. I then installed XP Service Pack 3. I updated anything I could find (including AIM IM–which upset her). I asked Stef to run Firefox instead of IE.

    Is it fixed? I’m not sure. I never found a single smoking gun. However, I just checked on it after 6-7 hours of idling and the CPUs usage numbers are still low.

  5. Geoff,

    Have you tried using Process Explorer? It’s a great troubleshooting tool that can breakout each process thread by thread and tell you how much CPU and memory is being used or abused.

  6. Mike –

    I looked last night. I am not familiar with this, so I was a little unsure how to interpret. However, all the cycles were being taken by ‘main’ processes that you’d expect to see running–just at less ‘needy’ levels.

    I’ll have another chance to look tonight. It’s home.

  7. Geoff-

    I assume you have already tried:



    msconfig (enter)

    The resulting Startup Tab may reveal the problem program (esp look for any app that does have an obvious name). The Tool tab may also lead to some insight into the problem.

    branford dave

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