My computer acts like it's high all the time. Help me hold and intervention/make it react quicker/eliminate latency!
February 18, 2007 10:15 PM   Subscribe

My laptop computer is reacting slower and slower to commands. I'm not sure what to call it, but I believe 'latency' is something I heard. Most commands--typing, clicking on links, etc.. takes much longer that it should. Rather than being able to instantly click/type, my computer takes about 3-10 seconds to react... like it's fubar on the Humboldt County chronic. The stickiest of the icky. I need it to sober up. Please help!

It's become so bad, I can't use the computer for normal web surfing because it takes so much longer (3-10 seconds may not sound like not much but for a power user that visits a few hundred sites a day, that has lots of rss feeds, lots of email to reply to, that types over 100 wpm--it exponentially increases time spent working). Lately, I've end up staying late at work to do all my personal stuff on their computers because it's intolerably bad.

Here's a few scenarios to explain what happens:
- I'll roll my mouse over a link to click on it and click, but nothing will happen. I end up having to roll a mouse over a link, then wait about 5 seconds for the computer to recognize, "Oh narly dude, that's a link. Lets make it clickable. Far out man." The little pointer hand appears, and I click the link.

- Or I'll start typing in a website address in and about 3-5 letters will show up and then it pauses for 5-7 seconds says to itself, "Whoa bra, you just can't come in here and do that. Mellow, man. Mellow. Meeeeeeellow. I like how that sounds...He he. Melllllllllooow. Luke, I am your faaaaather." ... before I can type more.

- Or I'll click on a program in the start bar (at the bottom of the screen) and and it'll load another program already open in the toolbar, I'll click it again and it will pop the right program open.

More fun facts and testing I've done:
- I've ran a virus scan (and have active protection) and it picked up nothing.
- I've ran a couple different spyware programs and come up with nothing.
- I've increased the cache, and decreased it in the browsers and it does nothing.
- It started about 3-5 months ago I think
- I have an external mouse and keyboard, but it does it on both that and the laptop mouse and keyboard
- It's not as bad outside of browsing the web, but the computer still lags in other programs, not at bad though.
- Using Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer
- AMD64 3400 cpu
- 1.25 gb of RAM
- 80 gigs of hard drive (only 30 gigs full)
- I have pretty fast broadband (4mb down 400 k upstream)
- Windows XP

I'm at a loss for ideas mainly because it seems my entire computer is in a fog. And it's not running at the same time I'm encoding video or exploding aliens in a video game. It's just high as hell and not responding quickly. I don't even know what to call this to search the internet for solutions!

PLEASE! Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!
posted by jkl345 to Technology (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
press ctrl-alt-del, go to task manager.
in task manager click the 'processes' tab.
click the 'cpu' or 'memory' columns to sort by cpu use or memory use. see if there's anything there that's hogging up your resources.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:29 PM on February 18, 2007

Do you, by any chance, have Norton Internet Security 2005 installed, and has its update subscription, by any chance, expired?
posted by flabdablet at 10:36 PM on February 18, 2007

My PC had been doing this lately. So i backed up what I needed. Formatted the harddrive and started again. Since my new install I've noticed Itunes really makes my pc run slow. Anyone else notice this ?
posted by Burgatron at 11:27 PM on February 18, 2007

Thanks for all the help so far!
Sergeant -- I've checked that, there's a lot of programs that I don't know what they are svchost.exe's how can I clean those up/getting them to stop load into memory? The biggest files is always Firefox.

I also ran a registry cleaning program (which I thought would help speed things up but it hasn't really made a difference).

Flabdab -- I used to have it, but I've uninstalled it. Good catch. :)

Burg -- Yea, that's my last resort. But I have a lot of multimedia editing/creation software that will take forever to reload and reconfigure. So it's REALLY my last resort.
posted by jkl345 at 11:34 PM on February 18, 2007

Is there anything that is constantly sucking up CPU time? if you sort by "CPU Time" in task manager, is there anything that is much higher than the rest?

It could also be a case of overheating. An overheating CPU will "underclock" itself, making it noticably slower. Laptop CPU's also lower their clock rate to preserve battery.

I would try running task manager side by side with another window where you are trying to do one of the above listed activities, such as typing. See what happens when you type. If the cpu usage isn't hitting above 90% ( and it should be well under 5%) ...then that means it's not likely to be a software issue.

IRQ's are another thing you may need to look at. Have you installed new hardware?
posted by Sonic_Molson at 11:53 PM on February 18, 2007

When you uninstalled Norton 2005, how exactly did you do that, and what did you replace it with?
posted by flabdablet at 12:00 AM on February 19, 2007

"svchost.exe" is part of the OS. It won't run without them.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:30 AM on February 19, 2007

Boot into something like Knoppix and see how it behaves. If it's still slow you'll know it's hardware-related (possibly broken processor fan?).
posted by malevolent at 1:57 AM on February 19, 2007

I've had a problem like this before with cvshost.exe making my computer lagged terribly.

The problem with svchost.exe is that it is a legitimate Windows process that has lots of "child processes" that are not listed in task manager.

It is likely that only of these "child processes", which is an EXE or a DLL file, is sucking up your CPU resources while the rest are fine.

If you press ctrl-alt-delete Windows, it won't list all the processes loaded by svchost, so you won't be able to tell which one is eating up all of your memory.

To be able to view the child processes of svchost, you should download the "Process Explorer" program .
Once you open it, look at all the table of all the processes on your system. Some svchost.exe processes will show a child-process underneath them. The CPU heading of the table shows the percentage of computer power each one of these SVCHOST child processes take up. If one of them has 80 or 90 or even 65 listed next to them, you will know that's the one overloading your system.

This "child process" of cvshost.exe will most likely be a DLL or an EXE file. You could find out exactly where it is on the computer (by right clicking on its name within Process Explorer and choosing properties on the pop up menu) and go to the folder to figure out what it is and potentially delete it.

The deletion would only be necessary if it's a virus. If it's a legitimate program that's slowing down your computer, you can uninstall it from the control panel "Add/Remove Software Function."

If you aren't sure that the file is part of a normal program, google the name of the file to find it out if it belongs to a virus. For your sake, I hope that it isn't a virus. If it is, it might be tricky because when I had this problem, none of the virus programs were able to detect any problems within a legitimate Windows Process and only Panda's Security Suite (it's free for a 30 day trial period but you have to buy it afterwards) could only track it down.

See, message nine in the thread for more information.
posted by gregb1007 at 2:10 AM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding flabdablet on the Norton side of things... I've seen it do horrid things to machines even when "uninstalled". If you haven't already, try the Norton Removal Tool.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 4:27 AM on February 19, 2007

I would start by downloading a free utility called Autoruns for Windows and then examining the Logon tab after you run it.

It's going to show you every program that starts up with your computer. Then Google each of them to see what it does and if it's necessary or not.

It won't be that hard because there are web sites dedicated to that type of information. In the process you may find some programs that indicate that you may have a virus or trojan that you're going to have to get rid of. More likely you're going to find a bunch useless or almost useless programs and utilities that are slowing down your computer.

Autoruns will let uncheck each program that you don't want to start up automatically anymore. If you make a mistake or change your mind then you can just reselect it again.

I'm also a big fan of another freeware utility called CCleaner that can scan your computer for unnecessary files and fix registry issues. It will also allow you to disable startup programs, but unfortunately it does it permanently.

BTW, CCleaner has an option to install the Yahoo toolbar and you may not want to do that.

Finally, I agree that it could be Norton or some other anti-virus program slowing down your computer. If so, then get rid of them and try the AVG free edition.
posted by 14580 at 5:45 AM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know about IE, but on my computer Firefox starts eating CPU like crazy if it's been open for a while and especially if I have had a whole slew of tabs open. Restarting Firefox fixes that problem, but it's a pain to check all the tabs to be sure I'm not losing information I need.
posted by sLevi at 7:02 AM on February 19, 2007

Re: Firefox 2.x on Windows:

Just before Xmas, I messed up some file permissions in the Application Data folder. As a result, Firefox could read existing files and create new ones, but couldn't update an existing file.

Two months later, I had over 4,000 backed-up copies of cookies.txt, numbered sequentially. Almost 1,500 bookmarks.html backups, just over 100 each for extensions.cache and prefs.js, and a stunning 10,000 backups of sessionstore.js. It ran to 16k files and the profile wouldn't have fit on a cd-rom w/o compression. Eventually, FF would just die on start rather than try to load a profile that large. Before that, it displayed that lag you mention - go to click a link and wait 10-30 seconds before the mouse responds to what you've done, etc.

So do a Start > Run > explorer, and go to the folder that FF keeps the profile in. If you have to scroll like crazy to get to the bottom, that may be your problem.
posted by trondant at 8:18 AM on February 19, 2007

There is a small possibility that you could have a hardware problem. For example, I saw a computer with similar problems that were caused by a hard drive cable that was going bad. You could also have a heat problem caused by dust bunnies inside your case.

You can determine if it's a hardware or software problem by temporarily booting the PC from a live CD like Ubuntu or Damn Small Linux, or the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

They're all going to allow you to boot your laptop with an alternative operating system that will work entirely off your CD drive, without installing anything on your hard drive. They all come with Firefox so you'll be able to surf the net and see if you still have a problem. If so, then it's a hardware problem. If not, then you've got a problem related to your Windows installation.

BTW, could you have accidentally changed your power settings so you laptop is running at its slowest CPU speed? Have you defragged your hard drive(s) lately?
posted by 14580 at 9:39 AM on February 19, 2007

You might also want to check the WINDOWS prefetch cache. I've gone through and selectively deleted some of the items and it seems to help, but be forewarned that some people have have had problems.
posted by nnk at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2007

Scratch that suggestion. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing (on my part, in this instance) and it sounds like clearing the prefetch cache is the equivalent of certain bad chain mail/Snopes rumors.
posted by nnk at 1:32 PM on February 19, 2007

Start --> run --> cmd -->netstat -an in the resulting command prompt. Anything that resembles a huge list of open ports to random IP addresses means you may have a nasty IRQ bot on your system. Difficult to detect, often tricky enough to hide from antivirus and spyware scans. Hopefully this is not your problem, but I've been on the clean-up end of a mess like this, and it sucked big time.

Also, how are your hard drives? Any of them in "compatability mode", which will suck the almighty hell out of system performance?
posted by caution live frogs at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2007

You guys are awesome!

I think I found the problem syntpenh.exe was using 99 percent of the system resources.

It's allegedly the program that runs the mouse pointer on my laptop according to this:

But strangely, I can still use my laptop pointer even after killing the application.

I don't think I can delete it totally, but I'm not sure why it was running at 99 percent. As soon as I killed it in the Windows Task Manager, everything got quiet! (My fan turned off blowing on high)

Since I killed it there isn't really any lag, and my CPU is running at 4-7 percent (peaking at 30 percent rarely).

I'm not sure why this problem resulted recently, maybe it's having a conflict with my USB mouse? I'm going to try disabling that exe in the registry and see the touchpad still works (like it does now).

I'm still going to try a bunch of the suggestions here to see if theres any other possible things slowing the computer. Thanks for all your help!!!!!!!!
posted by jkl345 at 8:12 PM on February 19, 2007

You'll probably find that syntpenh is necessary to make the touch-pad's scrollbar functions work properly, and perhaps its two-fingered-tap-means-right-click feature as well. If you can live without those, you don't need syntpenh.
posted by flabdablet at 2:17 AM on February 20, 2007

Crap, my Asus laptop just started doing this too! Thanks for asking the question: I'm going to have to go read all the answers more thoroughly now. (Very irritating! It took me like ten minutes to make this comment!)
posted by trip and a half at 2:43 AM on February 20, 2007

AnswersThatWork doesn't like syntpenh much, and I've generally found their opinions reliable.
posted by flabdablet at 8:32 AM on February 20, 2007

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