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  1. #1
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    Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Hi All,
    My system is a Micron Millenia piii 733 mhz with 384mb ram, WIndowsXP Home SP2 with all the updates. My hard drive crashed about 5 months ago. I was able to recover a lot of data, but a lot was destroyed too. I replaced the hard drive with a new 120 gb Seagate. Since the crash, my system acts real flaky. If I try to run more than one or two applications - or as I say "when I push the system resources", the system seems to lockup for quite a while. Usually because of my impatience, I restart the system and start over, and handle the machine delicately.

    Could it be the new hard drive? It's the same type (eide I think) as the old one. It sort of acts like it has memory issues, but when I run tests on my ram, the tests come out fine (100%). Any ideas before I toss it?

    Thanks,

    --Jim

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    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Jim,
    I would first consider adding more memory to your system. 384 is kind of light for XP SP2, so go to at least 512 or more if possible.
    I certainly wouldn't toss the new HD.
    You might also check your system resources with task Manager to see what is choking your system.
    BOB
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  3. #3
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for your reply. Normally I would agree with adding more memory, but before the hard drive failure, I could push that system all day long and not have it hangup. It's only since the hd changeout. Having started from scratch on the new hard drive, there is a lot less running now than before. I will go down and review the task manager and see if I missed something.

    --Jim

    ps I didn't mean I'd toss the hard drive, I meant toss the system!

  4. #4
    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Jim,
    Try going to the PCPitstop site and running the full system test. It will really exercise your system, Processor, HDs, Video and the various caches. If it finds something not quite up to par, it will offer suggestions as to what to do to improve performance.

    Go to: PITSTOP
    You will have to register but that's all.
    BOB
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Thanks for your advice. Upon running pcpitstop, I learned the hard drive had a lot of fragmentation. Upon cleaning up and defragging, it seems to be running much better. (I'm not sure why I didn't check that sooner ... )

    Thanks again,

    --Jim

  6. #6
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Anytime you install a new hard drive you should run a defrag after cpompleting the installation. The install process scatters the data all over the drive and we all know what that does to system performance. It's generally good practice to cleanup and defrag your hard drive at least once a month. I generally run the Disk Cleanup utility every day or after a particularly heavy surfing session on the net. I also defrag my drive at least once a week. A clean defragged system just runs better. <img src=/S/yep.gif border=0 alt=yep width=15 height=15>
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  7. #7
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Who am I to argue with a WMVP(grin!) but I'd like to state my thoughts on defrag.

    I too used to defrag daily/weekly/monthly, and now I defrag hardly at all.

    I understand the business of fragmented memory, and I believe it was a significant factor when hard drives first loomed on the horizon, especially the slow ones of yesteryear.
    I understand that even a virgin-install (Windows to a formatted hard drive) can result in fragmentation as files are deleted during the process, and installation of other application software after the operating system can be fragmented.

    It seems to me that a defragmentation run after the initial installation is complete should see every DLL and WinWord.exe defragmented, and I can't dream up a good reason for thinking that any one of those files might become fragmented. Excepting for a re-installation of an application, the related EXE and DLL ought not to fragment.

    That means that defragmenting a hard drive can't have any impact on those read-only fiels.

    Which leaves our user's data files (DOC, XLS and the rest) and other dynamic files (INI, LOG etc.) With the relatively smal size of these files and today's hard drive speeds I can not see a huge economic impact on regular dergamentation.

    I have, still, an emotional attachment to watching defrag do its thing; I miss the old blue lozenges with the green and yellow (?) lozenges as bit-players, so to speak, in the game.
    I have a growing feeling that mindless defrags are likely to contribute to disk failures as the MBTF is approached more quickly, and that's a statistical crap-shoot anyway.

    After watching a WinXP/SP2 defrag, I have a growing feeling that perhaps not all files are moved for the sake of movement; gaps are apparent in a defrgamented disk. Perhaps these gaps represent WinXPs acknowledgement that there is little purpose in shifting a solid block of DLL/EXE or other read-only type of file.

    I sincerely acknowledge that defragmentation can be followed by fewer system crashes or a faster running system

    I can't see why it should be so. Logic prevails against such a statement.

    Again, it is probably worth the emotional kick to feel that one's filing cabinet/desk is "tidy". I care. I'm not sure that the computer cares at all.

  8. #8
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Where to start. Oh, where to start.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    I understand that even a virgin-install (Windows to a formatted hard drive) can result in fragmentation as files are deleted during the process, and installation of other application software after the operating system can be fragmented.

    It seems to me that a defragmentation run after the initial installation is complete should see every DLL and WinWord.exe defragmented, and I can't dream up a good reason for thinking that any one of those files might become fragmented.
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Is this not contradictory? If you understand how fragmentation could occur during a virgin install how can it be that there should not be fragmentation after it is complete?

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Excepting for a re-installation of an application, the related EXE and DLL ought not to fragment.
    -------------------------------------------------------
    Do patches and service packs count as a reinstallation? The size of EXEs & DLLs almost always change when code is modified. Plus, that does not take into account installation of software that installs a different version of the same DLL. Note: This has led to what is commonly known as "DLL hell" and why Microsoft has developed the WinSXS (or side-by-side) approach.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Which leaves our user's data files (DOC, XLS and the rest) and other dynamic files (INI, LOG etc.) With the relatively smal size of these files and today's hard drive speeds I can not see a huge economic impact on regular dergamentation.
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    What about graphics and sound files? Thoses files are often quite large. It is relatively easy to have a large Word or Excel file. The point is not the size of the file vs. the speed of the disk. The point is the cluster size of the disk and the size of the files stored that are then modified to a larger size. Most users tend to modify a relatively small subset of their data files fairly regularly. And files tend to grow in size over time not shrink. That means that the more fragmented a disk is the harder it has to work to read & write the most frequently referenced files. Thus, making fragmentation contribute to disk failure more rapidly through excessive use than running defragmentation software.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    After watching a WinXP/SP2 defrag, I have a growing feeling that perhaps not all files are moved for the sake of movement; gaps are apparent in a defrgamented disk. Perhaps these gaps represent WinXPs acknowledgement that there is little purpose in shifting a solid block of DLL/EXE or other read-only type of file.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    The WinXP deframenter is, I believe, a very basic (i.e., dumbed down) version of Diskeeper. Some argue that optimizing free space during defragmentation is the optimal situation. I suppose that may be true as fewer small gaps should result in fewer new files being fragmented upon initial creation.

    HTH,
    Joe
    Joe

  9. #9
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    I don't know Chris. I tend to keep things simple (KISS Principle), and look at disk fragmentation like this. Say you have a handful of confetti (your data), to apply this data to your hard drive, you throw it into the air and it comes down on the ground (your hard drive) scattered all over hell and gone. Right ??? Defragging is the process of sweeping up all the pieces and putting them back together again so that they fit in an orderly way on your disk for faster reading. Over time, these "pieces" get moved around when they are accessed, new data is added, new programs are installed, data and programs are deleted, etc.. And after a while, need to be put back in place again.

    I think you are over-thinking the problem. IMHO <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    Anyway, everything works better after a defrag. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
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  10. #10
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    > Is this not contradictory?
    I don't see it that way.
    I think in terms of any one of the EXE or DLL being installed; it might be fragmented during installation. A defrag after installation ought to see the EXE/DLL in one piece. From that time on I can think of no reason why it might become defragmented.
    I think (in this case) of an upgrade to the EXE/DLL as being a re-installation of that file. At that time the new version may well be installed in defragmented form, but again, up until that time the original EXE/DLL ought not to have become mysteriously fragmented. It doesn't get written; how could it become fragmented?
    A reinstallation/upgrade/update etc counts as a likely event for fragmentation, so a defragmentation is valid then.

    With today's upgrade-by-stealth mechanisms, even my nieces's computer could be receiving upgrades every night.
    However, if updates/upgrades are not being applied willy-nilly, the EXE/DLLs ought not to change. The data files will change, that's for sure, but the basic application software ought not to become fragmented at all. At least, I'm saying that I can't think why it would.

    I think too of people who claim that "Word will load faster if you defrag once a week". I am possibly in the top 0.01% of people with a zillion DOT in my Startup folder, and yet I don't notice any difference in speed. I'm not convinced that using Rob Bovey's code cleaner to strip my Utils.Dot from 2,000KB to 800 KB makes much difference either on a 2GB Ram machine with a 100GB hard drive. I suspect that the physical blocks being read are so much larger than my DOT that there's little to be gained by defragmenting.

    I agree that defragmenting might reduce the physical wear and tear on a drive by reducing the shopping around for fragments during regular reads.

    I attended a talk given by Sun Microsystems, a guy from what was Intelligent Systems (http://www.cartagena.com/naspa/) and the "View presentations" link suggests that after 30 days on a storage device the probability of re-reference is 2%. That too suggests that most of the stuff on my hard drive isn't worth bothering about in terms of time-spent-to-access.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    > Anyway, everything works better after a defrag.
    This is what disturbs me (but only ever-so slightly). There are enough reports by qualified people confirming that a defrag works wonders.
    I can't really see why, and I can't think in terms of stable files (DLL/EXE don't get augmented) being fragmented.
    OTOH my mother was very strong on Stewed Prunes. And she was always right!

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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    >I can't really see why,

    "Ours is not to question why,...."

    >OTOH my mother was very strong on Stewed Prunes. And she was always right!

    If she wasn't always right, I'll bet she was always regular. <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>
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  13. #13
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Chris,
    I have to jump in here to say I agree with both Joe and Doc.
    Fragmentation does occur and DEfragmentation improves system performance.

    Jim's endorsement in his last post above certainly seems to be in agreement with this idea.

    I remember a demonstration at an IEEE show, where a hard drive was shown operating with it's platter cover off. Once with a badly fragged drive and once with a defragged drive. To watch the fragged drive spindles jump around all over the platters, trying to read information was enough to convince me of the worthiness of defragging a drive.
    BOB
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    Programs and supporting software such as DLLs should not be fragmented mysteriously. Have you observed this happening? Have you examined log files produced by every defrag program? In my experience, seldom are EXE or DLL files in the logs.

    Word will not load faster unless it or one of the support components is fragmented. Even then you'll likely not notice the difference in times. What happens though is that the accumulation of small amounts adds up to something that is significant. The amount of RAM and disk size are not significant to accessing a file other than what may have to happen with your paging file. Physical blocks being read at one time have little effect if a file is fragmented as fragments are scattered over the disk and are probably not within an area that would be read at the same time regardless of the number of blocks read.

    To extend the re-reference thought, suppose you create and/or update a file within the first several days such that it is fragmented. If you do not defragment then over a period of time your drive will be more and more fragmented thus increasing the chances that any new will be fragmented to begin with or any udpated file will be fragmented as a result of the update. Over some time period you'll significantly affect the performance and life of you drives.

    Joe
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    Re: Computer Acting 'flaky'

    I have no problem agreeing that fragmentation does occur. It is a fact of life.
    I'm not convinced that defragging makes a visible difference in speed of loading (although I must confess to turning OFF Word's Fast Saves (a.k.a. Slow Loads)

    I went back and re-read Jake's <post:=582,244>post 582,244</post:>; he does say that he cleaned up and defragged.

    I'm suspicious of demos at shows. What were they selling?
    Further, there is no doubt in my mind that some of us are probably creating/maintaining files in a way that a daily defrag makes a world of difference.

    For ost of us i suspect that a general routine defragging seems to me me to be a waste of time. I have no figures or demos to back up my claim. Just a general feeling that even Windows paging and buffering techniques can't be worse than we saw on mainframes 30 years ago.

    I'm also thinking that emptying the Recycle bin on a regular basis probably contributes heavily towards fragmentation of files. Antything that forces re-writes to an not-previously used portion of disk ought to be good. To that end, a daily run that created a ZIP file big enough to fill in the holes ought to be more efficient than a defrag. After all, if all the holes are plugged, where is an honest Op.Sys to store its data unless it is at the top end of the drive? Ergo (or perhaps Bingo!) no defragmentation.

    Then I could see a bi-annual delete-zip-files, empty-recycle-bin, and defrag making snse.
    But only twice a year.
    And only then if I was too lazy to buy a bigger hard drive.

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