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Diagnosing/fixing computer performance problems--Reliable software for this?
Old 12-12-2015, 01:04 PM   #1
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Diagnosing/fixing computer performance problems--Reliable software for this?

DW's computer is getting slower and slower as time goes by--considerable lags in opening software, sluggish when doing Photoshop editing, etc. It worked better when she first got it, and it is still well above the min specs Adobe recommends for Photoshop. We're a Windows household.

She's taken it in to a local computer shop about 18 months ago, and it ran better after they cleaned off some things and made some adjustments, but it's slow again. I don't think buying a new machine is the answer.

I >suspect< her computer has all kinds of processes running from who-knows-what type of seldom-used software, things installed while she surfed the web, etc, etc that don't need to be going while she's doing her main tasks. It's darn-near impossible to use "Task Manager" to discern what all the activity is, and which operations are truly important.

Has anyone got recommendations / ideas for software that functions as an "expert system" to monitor your computer in use, see where the bottlenecks are, and make recommendations/fixes? We've got the normal AVG antivirus software, but I'd think there's got to be something out there that goes a step beyond--optimizing cache sizes and memory allocation, suggesting improvements to configurations/hardware that would speed things up, asking questions about which software is really important to the user and which can be put into standby/lower priority, etc.
While I wouldn't mind paying someone to do this, I don't know who will really do it right and I'd prefer the fix to be more permanent than what we experienced before.

Ideas appreciated . . .
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:32 PM   #2
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I haven't used a PC for about three years now, but when I did, I used Uniblue Power Suite. It was a godsend and kept my Toshiba laptop functioning for a decade. I see that it was the lowest ranked of 10 disk optimizer programs in the review below!

Compare Top 10 PC System Optimizer Utilities 2015
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:37 PM   #3
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By normal AVG antivirus, you mean the most recent? AVG used to be one of my favorites, but then would do long scans and tie up my system. I think the most recent AVG is now via the cloud which should help. I don't use AVG.

Also, do a malware scan (such as with Malwarebytes) as your DW might have a bunch stuff to clean up which is slowing down the system.

Oh, probably should ask too, which Win OS?

One more thing, my previous PC had a time of terrible lag (several minutes) when trying to launch a program. I put up with that for about a year til I just couldn't wait and wait anymore. Found out the hard drive was bad.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:43 PM   #4
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Clone the drive and put in a SSD. Better yet, clean reinstall to a SSD.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:47 PM   #5
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Any automated tune up software requires updates, and sometimes non-automatic decisions on what to disable.Just drop it off at a trusted local computer shop , shouldn't cost more than $75- $100 , and do so once a year , or whenever things get slow. Like you did before. Money well spent IMO.
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Old 12-12-2015, 01:57 PM   #6
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Sometimes it can be the hardware just not playing nice with the OS, DWs Dell is like that. Not sure what OS version you are using, when I was running Win 7 my PCs had similar issues, googling it I ran across some chatter about the Windows update logs becoming so large that they could affect overall system performance, but especially when attempting updates. Searching a bit further I found a method for purging that (which was much more elaborate than simply purging browser cache), it did seem to help somewhat. For software to help cleanup the system, I've always like Piriform's CCleaner. Fairly unobtrusive and efficient for cleaning up remnants of deleted software cache and registry entries that standard removal doesn't do. I'd do a malware check too, just to be on the safe side. Malwarebytes freebie would work for that, but only for a few days as I recall - and I found it to not uninstall completely, causing it to be tagged as... malware.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:04 PM   #7
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I don't know of any software that does that online, automatically , on the fly. Failing HD, disk fragmentation, corrupted driver, corrupted user profile, a windows update that broke something... long list of stuff without seeing all the symptoms. The best diagnostic tools run from DOS not windows.

Hirens boot CD, Hiren's BootCD 15.2 - All in one Bootable CD » www.hiren.info, is one I have used for years to diagnose and repair. SIW is a windows base tool , https://www.gtopala.com/

First thing I do is open up taskmanger and look at the CPU and memory usage, see if any programs have gone wild consuming CPU/memory.

Sometimes it is best with windows to backup your data, reformat the HD, reinstall windows and then your programs. Starting clean can work wonders and it is quicker than trying to track down and diagnose a needle in a hastack.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:11 PM   #8
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I'd start with a fresh install of the OS. Save your files (music, pics, vids, programs, etc) to a backup and then put them back on the disk after the install.

If you have router, don't use any anti-virus software and simply use Microsofts Security Essentials. Also, turn off Microsoft updates. A stable, fast system beats an updated system anytime. Microsoft updates are noxious ridiculousness.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:42 PM   #9
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When I first buy a new PC, I make two full backups to an external HD. The first is a image copy of the brand new PC load that came from the factory. The second is a full image copy after I have loaded and configured all my applications. After that I backup my personal files routinely. If the PC starts slowing down or develops problems that I can't seem to fix, I'll first try using the system restore utility with the current OS. That works sometimes and it's pretty quick. If that doesn't fix it, I'll backup my personal files again from the ailing PC, format the HD and then reinstall the image copy w/apps, that I made when I first got the PC. I then pull down the latest OS updates and then reload my personal files. PIA and takes some time but it works for me.
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Old 12-12-2015, 03:59 PM   #10
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Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.


Boot to Safe Mode and see how PS performs. If it's ok, then you have virus and malware. Next suggestions:

1. APS uses disk cache. If you have one partition, then the disk may be seriously fragmented given a few years' use. You have to clean out files and defrag. Check the APS scratch disk settings.

2. Look into second disk so you can move Windows VM there, as well as Photoshop swap.

You could spend a week or more fixing a system. Maybe get lucky and hit it in the first hour. That's why redoing the system with SSD sounds good. you have to put in time to make that work, but your performance result will be spectacular.
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Ideas appreciated . . .
OK, I'm taking you at your word. My idea really isn't very easy to like at all, and it's probably the most expensive idea so far.

Honestly, what I would do in that situation is to buy her a brand new computer and re-install her software there. Quick and easy. Buy her a high end one made by a reliable company, with a fast processor and lots of RAM.

The logic to this (in my mind), is that this is the kind of thing that can be solved most easily by throwing money at it. Besides, "Happy wife, happy life".

See? I said my idea isn't very easy to like....
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:12 PM   #12
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If the PC is more than 5 years old, it could be a permanent problem...

Look at the Task manager and see if it's a memory issue, or a hardware issue.

Clean up any browser cache.
Uninstall un-used programs.
Delete unnecessary files, via Disk Cleanup
Buy more memory
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Old 12-12-2015, 06:50 PM   #13
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If she doesn't use many apps then I would wipe the drive back to how you got it from the factory and then reinstall her apps an file. I've done with when we have had PC issues and it usually works.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
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D
I >suspect< her computer has all kinds of processes running from who-knows-what type of seldom-used software, things installed while she surfed the web, etc, etc that don't need to be going while she's doing her main tasks. It's darn-near impossible to use "Task Manager" to discern what all the activity is, and which operations are truly important.
Try Task Manager immediately after you reboot. Background processes should consume almost no processor time. On my machine Task Manager lists the processor as idle 98%. Any process continuously consuming more than 1% is suspect and should be accounted for via further study.
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Old 12-12-2015, 10:11 PM   #15
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Get rid of all anti virus programs. They are viruses in and of themselves. Install Windows 10. It keeps things simple and fast and has built in security for viruses and such.
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Old 12-12-2015, 10:56 PM   #16
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This is a process and should be performed like a mystery. Don’t jump too soon or you and the DW could be at odds for a long time.


Begin by typing into the run search box found on the start type (without “”) “MRT” and press enter. You may need to type MRT.exe. This is the malicious software removal tool updated by Microsoft once a month. (You do have updates turned on!!) This can be a long process so let it run to locate any viruses, malware, ect on the machine. It can take as long as overnight. The last time I used this it also isolated the culprit so it could be deleted. Next download Malwarebytes. Don’t download from anywhere but the Malwarebytes site. Downloading sites can dump malware, adware crap onto your machine along with the program you want.



If “MRT” and/or Malwarebytes don’t locate anything your next move is a complete reformat of the hard drive. Reformatting is not difficult but it is time consuming. Begin by copying any files (letters,spreadsheets, photos,music) that are important to DW. Copying files to a large USB (8-32 GB) is easy to. You can back up your entire hard drive to this USB BUT DON’T, because if you have a virus or malware undetected by the previous sweeps you will just carry it to the reformatted HD
Then locate the programs she uses and find the original discs or cd’s or dvd’s that were used to install the program. This is very important don’t take the next step until you have located these or have repurchased them.
Reformatting really depends on the brand of computer. Some make it very easy (Lenovo, Dell) other brands will require you to locate the drivers from their sites. This can be tricky because choosing the wrong driver will result in problems with sound, viewing ect. If you have a Windows operating system most of this can be done from the control panel. Check the web for reformat of a hard drive for specific suggestions also check your computer manufacturers site for additional support on reformatting
Good Luck
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:11 PM   #17
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Clone the drive and put in a SSD. Better yet, clean reinstall to a SSD.
Yes, an SSD is the way to go to speed things up but should probably also use a second regular hard drive for data storage.
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Old 12-13-2015, 06:57 AM   #18
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Clone the drive and put in a SSD. Better yet, clean reinstall to a SSD.
This. The extra work involved in starting from scratch is overemphasized, as long as you have an empty bay in the computer or some other means (perhaps that you can borrow) to mount the old drive to support copying over the old data. And the difference in performance between a clean install onto an hybrid SSHD SATA and an upgrade on a SATA cannot be overstated. My "slow" desktop went from zero to hero, while my laptop (which has always had an SSHD) is now my lesser performing computer, even though they're both on the same operating system.

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Yes, an SSD is the way to go to speed things up but should probably also use a second regular hard drive for data storage.
I chose a single drive, Seagate 1TB Desktop SSHD SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000DX001). It isn't a pure SSD, but the it is a great compromise between storage, performance and price.
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:23 AM   #19
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I'm patiently waiting for prices of a 1TB SSD to drop to $99 before making a move.

As for the OP, even with a SSD, first and foremost, figure out what is slowing the performance down. For example, malware of a SSD is still malware that should be removed.
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Old 12-13-2015, 07:30 AM   #20
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If you need to copy a disk to another disk Clonezilla - About.
The Free and Open Source Software for Disk Imaging and Cloning

What is Clonezilla?
Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image® or Norton Ghost®.
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