Computer locks up at nine every night?
August 7, 2013 7:54 PM   Subscribe

My computer locks up at nine every night. Well, sometimes as early as 8:30. The mouse acts as though it's very nearly out of batteries, (i.e. sits still for minutes on end, doesn't register clicks) and the keyboard doesn't record any keystrokes for long stretches, then types out doubles of every letter. However, if a video is playing, it continues flawlessly, and no processes show 100% utilization. Nor do the performance tab or network tab on the Task Manager show any spikes.

I've been blaming it on Adobe ARM running amok, or Flash wanting to update, but even killing those, while they seemed to help, didn't do anything more long-term than a minute or two.

However, unplugging the phone line coming into the modem makes the problem stop instantly. I have a Motorola modem and a D-link wireless router. While this is happening, my wife can be streaming into her old net book or the home theater PC with ease (well, until I unplug the phone line!)

As soon as I plug back in, the problem starts back up - a little at first, then utter un-useability within minutes.

What the eff is going on?
posted by notsnot to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you have something scheduled to run each day at that time.

The first culplrits that come to mind are your antivirus, any online backup tools, and automatic updates for some program that have yet to successfully complete.

Some more details would be helpful: what operating system?

Have you updated your OS recently and updated any drivers for your motherboard/mouse/keyboard from their respective vendors?

If you have an antivirus, what is it, what version, and have you manually updated it recently? Same question for online backup tools?

Also, are both the mouse and the keyboard wireless, or is one of them wired?
posted by Ashlyth at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2013

Response by poster: Oh dayum, what I'll forget when I'm trying to type around the lagging episodes.
It's Win 7 ultimate. I haven't updated anything recently. The problem has been going on for a month or two; i had been using the slowdown as a cue to step away from the computer, but I'm trying to get actual work done now and can't jsut walk away. I updated firefox to no avail.

I'm using Microsoft Security Essentials.
I checked my Windows System Task Scheduler and it shows no tasks having started in the past 24 (!) hours.
posted by notsnot at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2013

My suspicion is that you are unwittingly part of a botnet, and when you're connected to the internet you're participating in spam or something equally unsavory.

This is your place to start.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:51 PM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Programs do not have to use the windows system task scheduler - it doesn't mean there isn't something running.

Mouse/keyboard wired or wireless?

*Given the nature of what you're noticing, it doesn't sound like a botnet. If you were, you would see more network activity, and it would be far less detectable. Botnets are designed to not make themselves noticed, not cause your mouse to freeze.
posted by Ashlyth at 8:55 PM on August 7, 2013

Another way to help diagnose the problem:

Exit every program that you can (right click > close things in the system tray, for example.)

Then go to the task manager, open the 'Processes' tab, and see what's running. Let us know what you see. It's probably not anything related to hardware (e.g. printer status monitor) or something labelled 'Windows'.
posted by Ashlyth at 9:10 PM on August 7, 2013

Response by poster: It's a wireless keyboard/mouse. I've had them for three or more years, and had a similar setup at work with no problem (of course I wasn't there at nine pm either).

Ashlyth, I'll have to try shutting everything down and see what's left tomorrow - the machine, as it does about 9:20 or so, has gone back up to regular speed.
posted by notsnot at 9:38 PM on August 7, 2013


If both your mouse and keyboard are wireless, they're a likely culprit. If you've got any wired equivalent around to try tomorrow, do so.

Things you should do before then: manually run windows update, reinstall driver for the keyboard and mouse.
posted by Ashlyth at 10:03 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you have a wired keyboard/mouse you could try the next time it happens? It's unclear whether your computer is slow receiving input from the keyboard or whether the keyboard is slow in sending the input. It kind of sounds like you have an RF interference issue with whatever wireless technology your keyboard and mouse are using rather than a problem with the computer itself.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:05 PM on August 7, 2013

Do you know how to check the Windows Event Log? You can just choose Start, and search for 'Event Log' and it should come up. Look for events in the Application and System Logs that have a red icon. The rest can be ignored, for the most part.
posted by theora55 at 11:04 PM on August 7, 2013

If you're not running as administrator, you should also make sure that you hit the "Show processes from all users" button in Task Manager (and go through UAC). Sometimes those automated processes from antivirus etc will be running as System instead of as your regular user.
posted by col_pogo at 3:16 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

First, look through this. That discusses USB suspend mode. Using google to search for "windows 7 keyboard mouse lockup" throws up lots of stuff.

If that is no use, definitely check all event logs for ALL activity in that time period (not just errors, this might be normal expected stuff). You can eliminate the possibility of wireless interference issues by trying corded devices. Ahead of the next incident: close all windows (not minimise, close) except for notepad (so you can test mouse and keyboard), have the activity monitor, event log and task manager running.
posted by epo at 3:49 AM on August 8, 2013

That sounds to me more like a problem with the wireless devices. I doubt a process that could lock up input on the computer would allow video to play flawlessly.

There is probably some device near you that does something at that time that causes interference with the wireless keyboard/mouse.
posted by gjc at 5:34 AM on August 8, 2013

It could be something like a neighbor using his/her microwave or cordless phone around the same time daily.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:03 AM on August 8, 2013

Uhh then I read the bottom half of your post and now i'm not so sure. If cutting the ethernet connection stops the madness then I can't imagine it being related to your mouse or keyboard.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:05 AM on August 8, 2013

Have you ever installed an online file backup program (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)? Those are usually scheduled to run once a day and if poorly programmed, could lock up your computer as you describe while being smart enough to not run while you are actively using the system (watching videos) and would quit without an internet connection.
posted by ghostmanonsecond at 9:36 AM on August 8, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, a little clarification: when the mouse and keyboard lock up, it's progressive - a little here, a little there, then gets worse and worse. At first, ctrl-shift-esc and kill Adobe ARM and Flash made things better. But it regressed. A few times, while I'm in the task manager, I'm able to tab over to the performance and networking tabs, and I can see no increase in activity, all the while the mouse and keyboard are barely there. When I say videos still work, I clicked on a tab that had a video and it was playing happily away while the mouse and keyboard were choking.

I'll rustle up a wired keyboard and mouse tonight, see if that helps.
posted by notsnot at 9:52 AM on August 8, 2013

This sounds very much like interference to me. I think the reason it goes away when you disconnect your modem is that the phone line no longer acts as an antenna at that point. In my view, seeing video playing smoothly while this is going on goes a long way towards ruling out a problem at the software level, but it doesn't rule that out entirely.

That Adobe ARM process is not important and you can kill it and remove it from your start up items if you like. It may be an annoyance but unless it turns out that there is an issue at the software level, that's probably all it is. One good way to prune your startup apps is to press WIN-R, type 'msconfig' and hit enter. There is a startup items tab.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:53 AM on August 8, 2013

I used to have a similar problem. Turned out to be Google Chrome phoning home for updates.
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:34 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well it's not interference. I re-routed the mouse/ keyboard USB sending unit away from the phone wire to the front of the desk and nothing changed. However Windows is trying to reinstall the mouse, and while it's waiting for my response, things are normal (not slowed).
posted by notsnot at 7:11 PM on August 8, 2013

Response by poster: Also in response to Wild_Eep's answer, I killed the phone-home-like settings in Chrome (which I don't even really use much).
posted by notsnot at 7:29 PM on August 8, 2013

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