By Fred Langa/Windows Secrets Newsletter
Fixing a Sluggish PC
It was a typical winter day in Seattle — gray, rainy, and raw — when I visited Windows Secrets reader Gary Nobel.
Gary’s system would occasionally slow “to a crawl.” I was there to find out why.
This was the first in a new series of House Calls, an occasional project where I visit a reader’s home or business and attempt to diagnose and cure real-life PC problems. The idea behind House Calls is simple: selected Windows Secrets readers and I collaborate to learn new techniques for analyzing, maintaining, and improving personal computers — which we then share with all Windows Secrets readers.
It works like this. Some months ago, I issued a call for volunteers for a personal, onsite, PC troubleshooting session. From time to time, I select one of the more interesting problems plaguing a reader — a problem that might apply to a wider audience. And rather than diagnose the problem remotely, I pay the reader a personal visit to his or her home or place of business — at my own expense. I do whatever I can in one day to solve the problem (or problems) and make the hardware and software run as well as it can.
Each House Call article, like this one, will explain what we found and how we fixed it. I hope that will give you the information you need to perform similar diagnoses and repairs on your system — or on systems you maintain for others.
The problem: Slowdowns with no clear pattern
When I asked for House Call participants, Gary Nobel sent this:
“I have a desktop computer with a 2.5GHz Pentium Dual Core CPU and 2GB of system memory. I’m running Windows 7 Home Premium.
“The computer occasionally slows down to a crawl. I think Outlook 2007 or IE — or both — might be involved. Rebooting solves the problem, but I have to reboot every few days. Sometimes I get the rotating ring with IE. Clicking the red X doesn’t close the window, and I resort to a forced close using Task Manager.
“I run Microsoft Security Essentials and occasionally things like Malwarebytes and Ad-Aware. But they rarely find anything except cookies.”
Gary’s note caught my eye because it’s a nearly universal problem — almost everyone experiences unexplained PC slowdowns from time to time.
When a slowdown follows a clear pattern, it’s usually not too difficult to figure out cause and effect. But slowdowns that occur only occasionally — or have no clear pattern — are much tougher to track down. Finding the culprit in Gary’s PC would be interesting!
This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.