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  1. #1
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    After sitting unattended, XP slows

    I am using XP SP3 on two PC's, a laptop and a desktop.

    I leave both machines running and have disabled hibernation/sleep.

    If I go away from the keyboard for a couple of hours, when I return XP is extremely slow to respond and the hard disk activity skyrockets for some time before finally settling down. When the disk activity subsides, normal operation returns.

    This says to me that XP is caching to disk and recovering when I return. What I don't understand is why it should be caching when I have disabled hibernation. How can I defeat this caching so that the machines will be ready to go the moment I return to the keyboard, regardless of how long I am away?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hello clif9710, and welcome to the Lounge!

    Check Task Scheduler to see if there are any programs or processes set to execute during computer idle time.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the welcome, Deadeye. There are several tasks listed in the manager, a couple are weekly, there are four Google updaters and four HP printer processes. I am tempted to dump them all.

  4. #4
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    hummmmm, they are weekly or monthly - so they shouldn't be causing daily problems

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    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Try downloading and installing WhatsInStartup for a detailed listing of all apps that start when you boot Windows. Some of these may be behaving badly. You can selectively disable one at a time to evaluate the situation.

    Another good one to use is Autoruns, but you should focus on the Logon tab as Autoruns can overwhelm you with information.

    It might be a good idea to download and install Malwarebytes Anti-malware Free edition to run a full scan of your hard disk just to check for the possibility of malware phoning home for instructions. Malwarebytes makes a good supplement to your active protection antimalware software you already have running at all times.

  6. #6
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    Ok, did as you suggested. Nothing was found by Malwarebytes program.

    Here is another hint on what may be wrong. The longer the machine has been going since a reboot, the worse the problem of disk activity becomes. This morning I rebooted and everything was fine no matter how long I was away from the machine. There was some disk activity when I would return to the keyboard but nothing like the constantly on disk LED and the slow slow paint one bit of an app screen at a time that it gets to be over several days.

    But as long as I have been using Windows in any variation from the days of 3.1, it seems like it gets more and more bogged down the longer it goes from a reboot, I suspect from the OS eating up more and more of available RAM. So maybe I just need to cycle it daily.

  7. #7
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    Rather than disk caching while idle then recovering from cache when you return, it sounds like the reverse. As Deadeye has suggested, it appears something is running when the machine is idle and this is then suspended and cached to disk when you return.

    There could be quite a few things that might do that, from malware through OS processes, to user installed software such as distributed computing, graphics processing, screen savers or antivirus tools.

    If MalwareBytes shows clean, it's unlikely to be malware, so for now you should consider what might be running when the machine is idle. You could use Process Monitor to watch the processes running on the machine and investigate those using large amounts of memory. If you are lucky it may show the rogue process when the cache to disk is active, otherwise I would investigate the highest memory use first. My guess is a process with memory leak.

    As an example, on a legacy XP box here, I have a process running 24/7. Unfortunately, it has a memory leak but the software vendor can't/won't support it, so I have to live with it and re-boot the box once a week. If I forget to re-boot, the box exhibits similar behaviour to what you describe.

  8. #8
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    Tinto, what you say makes sense since the trouble seems to get worse the longer the time from reboot. I'm finding out about some resources here that I was unaware of, like Process Monitor - many thanks. I will run it and see if I can nail the villain.

    On occasion on the laptop I have received a prompt (I can't recall the exact wording) about virtual memory getting low and that Windows will adjust the size.

  9. #9
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    At the risk of making myself a real pest - I have Process Monitor running but when I attempt to open the help file I get a table of contents but nothing displays in the page - just "Navigation to the webpage was canceled"

    The help file is called procmon.chm.

    I also have a program called Process Explorer which has a procex.chm help file and that works like a champ. Does anyone here have a functioning copy of procmon.chm and, if so, might I get a copy of it?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by clif9710 View Post
    At the risk of making myself a real pest - I have Process Monitor running but when I attempt to open the help file I get a table of contents but nothing displays in the page - just "Navigation to the webpage was canceled"

    The help file is called procmon.chm.

    I also have a program called Process Explorer which has a procex.chm help file and that works like a champ. Does anyone here have a functioning copy of procmon.chm and, if so, might I get a copy of it?
    Use Windows Explorer, find the .chm file, right click, select Properties, click "Unblock", OK your way out.

    Joe

  11. #11
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    That did it, thanks Joe

  12. #12
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    I found the culprit! It is plugin-container.exe and is part of Firefox V4. It grows and grows and had reached a size of 1.7gig when XP flagged me that virtual memory was being re-sized.

    Since I have been getting notices to upgrade to FF V6, I did so and no longer do I see plugin-container.exe so I hope they got rid of it.

    I found the trouble by opening Task Manager and adding the virtual memory tab to the process view. It stood out like a sore thumb.

  13. #13
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    Glad you got it resolved. Thanks for posting your findings.

    Joe

  14. #14
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clif9710 View Post
    I found the culprit! It is plugin-container.exe and is part of Firefox V4. It grows and grows and had reached a size of 1.7gig when XP flagged me that virtual memory was being re-sized.

    Since I have been getting notices to upgrade to FF V6, I did so and no longer do I see plugin-container.exe so I hope they got rid of it.

    I found the trouble by opening Task Manager and adding the virtual memory tab to the process view. It stood out like a sore thumb.
    Oh, you left Firefox running. That is the key. Firefox in all versions has a known issue with memory leakage. It is not a resolvable issue. Just shutting down Firefox and doing a CCleaner system cleanup before walking away from the computer usually does the trick for me.

    Also, my Intel ProSet Wireless Driver is badly written, and it fills up the Page Files and Prefetch Directory if left running for too long. In this case, CCleaner has to be set to clean the Windows Prefetch Directory when it cleans. Logitech Mouseware is another driver which causes me issues like this.

    So, it could be Firefox itself (most likely), or it could be a background process (also common), or you could have a driver which chews up Windows resources. In each case, the solution is to find the culprit, shut it down, and clean up whatever it has put onto your Hard Drive. This usually frees up the Windows resources and (temporarily) improves system performance.

    But you will still have to keep at it -- these drivers and processes will start up again sometime. And Firefox is essential if you don't like using IE on the Web.

    Perhaps Chrome would not be so taxing? But I've heard reports that Chrome also gets resource-hungry when multiple tabs are opened.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2011-08-04 at 13:08.
    -- Bob Primak --

  15. #15
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    After continuing to fool with the plug-in container process of FF and finding that the newer versions still have it, I discovered a way to disable it completely, tried it and it works. Here is the procedure...

    Here is how to get rid of plug-in container on FF

    In the address window, type

    about:config

    then type
    dom.ipc

    then change anything that is TRUE to FALSE and anything that is FALSE to TRUE - i.e. toggle the true or false settings you find.

    Exit FF

    Restart

    no more plug-in container!

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