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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    What Could Be The Problem?

    About a month ago my main PC suddenly slowed to a crawl. It's a homebuilt, an MSI motherboard with an Athlon processor and WinXP Pro. If I open Task Manager, the Processes tab shows 100% CPU utilization, with an "Image Name" called System showing 98-99% of that usage. I figured I'd picked up some kind of virus, trojan or the like, but none of the programs I tried (and I tried a ton of them) even found anything. Then I paid the shop that I get most of my parts from to check the PC, and they didn't find anything either.

    I had tried reinstalling XP to no avail, so yesterday I used Seagate's DiscWizard program (the HDD is a Seagate SATA) to Zero Fill the drive and reformat it. Then I installed XP again. Problem is still there. Is there some kind of hardware problem that could be causing this behavior? I'm totally stumped on this.

  2. #2
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: What Could Be The Problem?

    Even though you just reformatted, I recommend you still run through a complete cleaning process just to ensure there is no malware. Note that rootkits have been known to survive a format as some are sneaky enough to hide themselves in sectors marked as bad in the drive's allocation tables. Note the section on RootkitRevealer below. Other things that have caused PCs to slow down include bad RAM - I recommend testing it with Memtest86+ - You should have zero errors. Also, non-existent mapped drives and finally a bad network connection caused by a failing network card or even the cable.
    ***
    Here is my canned text for cleaning your system and keeping it clean. I recommend running through it at least once a week: (Alternatively, the CastleCops Malware Removal and Prevention guide is excellent.)

    Important Note: Use each application
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: What Could Be The Problem?

    Bill,

    >> Even though you just reformatted, I recommend you still run through a complete cleaning process just to ensure there is no malware. <<

    OK, I'll try the things on your list that I haven't already. Many of the software products I was using at the time of the slowdown, and I was keeping them up-to-date and running regular scans. This "Image Name" called System that I see in Task Manager doesn't ring any bells with you, I take it?

  4. #4
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: What Could Be The Problem?

    <hr>This "Image Name" called System that I see in Task Manager doesn't ring any bells with you, I take it?
    <hr>
    Yes, it is supposed to be there. But it typically runs under 5% CPU utilization.

    You might also try Process Explorer. This is basically a very enhanced Task Manager that may show you what is eating up your CPU's clock cycles.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

  5. #5
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: What Could Be The Problem?

    What you're describing sure sounds like a hardware problem. Check the obvious - no failed fans, adequate ventilation.... I also think you could get to the root of the problem a little faster if you were to "bare bones" your rig: remove everything in the case except for the video card, the boot drive, and a stick of RAM. See if the problem persists with this extremely minimal configuration. If it does, try swapping out the RAM first (provided you have another stick available), then the video card, and finally, the hard drive.

    If you have another working system, you can also swap components in and out of it as well to see if the problem resides in one of the attached components or within the motherboard itself.

    You may also want to consider a Linux distro that boots and runs from CD, such as Knoppix. By completely circumventing the boot sector on the drive, you can easily rule out root kits, which are frankly not that common to begin with.
    -Mark

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