computer can't load executables smoothly
September 26, 2007 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Laptop acting strangely. Could it be caused by overheating?

I know a little bit about computers - I keep my laptop pretty damn clean, use CCleaner and various other programs to eliminate clutter, I defrag regularly and use spybot searchanddestroy amongst others. The problem seems strange to me. Dell Inspiron 600m, stock components, Windows XP Pro. It's not running slowly all the time - rather, when I try to launch a program it chokes. Firefox takes several minutes to boot up, but once it's running everything goes smoothly. Regular XP utilities seem to work just fine once the program loads. Some programs refuse to launch at all - I can't get the taskmanager to load. I get the hourglass then nothing happens. The computer won't shut down on its own. OpenOffice is the same - takes a full minute and a half to launch and then runs fine.
All the diagnostic stuff (once it launches) isn't turning up anything.
Is it possible that by leaving my laptop on in a hot room for several days without using the powersaver feature cooked something? I thought possibly that a ram module or something got fried - maybe the computer is having a hard time putting together enough ram to load the program but once it does everything is ok.
Is there some kind of (small!) utility that I could run? Most registry cleaners are big, klunky things that I can't get to load... the computers just chokes.
Also, I can't load the "uninstall software" utility, either. The fact that the taskmanager won't load means that I can't see if there's some kind of rogue process going on, eating up my available memory - but if that were the case, wouldn't firefox run slowly after launch? How can I use the system prompt to determine which processes are running?
Is this kind of thing symptomatic of faulty or broken RAM?
I have the same problem running in safe-mode and after using system restore to go back to the earliest available date.

Please forgive my 10th grade understanding of computers.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can test the ram with Memtest86. I've only ever used the ISO; download it, burn it to a CD, then boot from it. You also might try Process Explorer to see what's going on instead of Task manager. tasklist is the command-line program you're looking for, I think.
posted by dreadpiratesully at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sounds like a software problem, possibly a virus. Perhaps Process Explorer will help you.
posted by shinybeast at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: Holy crap it's quicktime. I'm right in assuming the numeric value listed under "CPU" is the usage percentage, right? Quicktime Task is floating around 97 to 98. How do I nuke it from space? Uninstaller won't load.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:21 PM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: erm yeah I got that using Process Explorer, btw.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:21 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, it won't let me kill the process - when I hit the button that says "Kill Process" it asks if I'm sure, I say yes, and then nothing happens. Then I tried to go into the directory and delete it, and I get an access denied error.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:30 PM on September 26, 2007

Try booting into safe mode and uninstalling it from there.
posted by demiurge at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2007

Quicktime sucks on a PC (memory hog!) but even so it shouldn't be at 98%. Occasionally a thread will implode, and an unrelated thread will then be flooded. Happens to me on occasion; Firefox might crash, because I killed something else that was hogging 90+% memory, and the resulting instability then crashes FF... best to reboot at this point, and uninstall the program if it continually gives you issues.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: "Try booting into safe mode and uninstalling it from there."
Did it! It worked! I killed it with fire. Computer's running great. Thanks metafilter and Process Explorer. Best answers for all!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2007

Quicktime Alternative might help. 'Course iTunes won't run without Quicktime, so...
posted by caution live frogs at 2:51 PM on September 26, 2007

Glad to hear you're back in business. If the offending process was "qttask.exe" then you could have disabled it by starting QuickTime and then selecting "Edit" "Preferences" and snooping around until you found the option to turn off the "QuickTime system tray icon."
posted by shinybeast at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2007

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