I've got a 4 year old Windows desktop that I use for very few things: Metafilter (using either Chrome or Firefox), email (Thunderbird), Word, and NVivo (a qualitative analysis software). I also play Steam games on the machine occasionally. I went on vacation, and when I came back, the computer was - for lack of a better term - completely messed up.
The machine, which is an ASUS desktop running Windows 7, has performed well until now. It even has two video cards so that I can use two monitors simultaneously. I like the computer and don't want to have to get a new one - especially since I am really crushingly broke right now.
There are three problems with the machine. I have followed all of deezil's profile instructions
on removing spyware/malware as best as I could. Nothing was turned up by any of these programs.
(1) When I turn it on, two command prompts show up after I've logged in to Windows. Closing either of the windows spawns a new window. This seems to have gone away since I went through the spyware/malware instructions I linked above. This was the first indicator that I had something wrong with the machine.
(2) It's incredibly slow. I'm using about 16% of my CPU when resting. It jumps up a lot whenever I open anything. Opening new tabs for web browsing in Chrome takes forever. This is not normal behavior for my machine. The fan sounds like it is running in overtime.
(3) When I can get it to run in Safe Mode (which is a trial itself - lots of times it just boots into Windows normally anyhow) it will shut itself off randomly. Because of this, I wasn't completely able to run all of the programs from deezil's profile in Safe Mode with Networking. I'm running them in Normal mode with my internet connection turned off. (That's another problem with the machine - when it turns on, I have to manually connect to my wifi now, as opposed to it just recognizing the Internet like it used to.)
My question is this:
What is wrong here? Do these behaviors sound familiar to anyone else? And is there anything that I should try that I have not yet tried already? I really, really need this computer to complete my dissertation (yes, everything is backed up, and I do not care if I lose all of my files to get this computer going again).
If I have to wipe off the machine and start anew, does anyone have any good solid instructions for how to go about this process? I'm afraid of doing this unless it's absolutely necessary.
If you think the machine can't be salvaged, can you recommend an incredibly inexpensive yet reliable desktop that will run Windows 7 (my qualitative analysis software does not appear to play nicely with Windows 8) that I can use two monitors with?