Laptop Slowing Down with over 80 Processes Running. Please Help!

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I have a Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop (1.73 GHz with 1 gig of RAM running WinXP and McAfee Internet Security Suite) and have noticed that the performance of it has slowed down over the past several months. It is now taking almost a minute to completely load when powering on and is also taking longer for programs to load. Last night I completed the following to resolve the problem to no avail and now I am stumped: 1) Cleaned up the hard drive by deleting all temp files and other files I no longer needed. 2) Uninstalled a program I no longer needed. 3) Ran SpywareBlaster and fixed the errors it found. 4) Ran Spybot S&D. 5) Ran AdWare and fixed the errors it found. 6) Ran RegCleaner and fixed the errors it found. 7) Defragged the hard drive though the defrag report stated it did not need to be defragged. When I view the processes running on Task Manager, I have over 80 running. I am thinking that this is too many, however I do not know which processes I should stop and which processes are completely necessary to run the computer. I am worried that I will stop a process that needs to be run and further complications will occur. Also, if I end the process in the Task Manager, will I have to end the processes every time I reboot the laptop? I would like to stop some of the start-up services when the laptop is powered on, however I do not know which start-up services are completely necessary to run at boot-time. I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have. I have had this laptop for a few months and it flew when I first purchased it, however now it seems to get more bogged down over time. Thank you in advance. Catherine
ASKED: August 30, 2006  10:56 PM
UPDATED: February 1, 2012  8:50 AM

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Go to www.sysinternals.com and download (and run) their rootkit detector. I did a quick count of processes on my W2K laptop and found 47 – and I’m running a bunch of stuff.

Also get TCPView and run it. It will show you processes which intialize and listen on network ports. One advantage I’ve found with that is that many trojan processes won’t let you see – or kill processes they own, but the TCPView utility WILL allow this.

The other thing I always recommend is to take out the hard drive and attach it to another system as a NON-BOOT drive- that is, just another data drive – and then run Norton Anti-Virus, Pest Patrol, and a full Scandisk/Chkdsk against it before allowing it to ever boot on its own.

Good Luck, and Hi to all you more regular folks here – Haven’t had time to spend – too busy.

Bob

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Your computer system might be experiencing some malicious software infection that make the processor keeps running even without opening a heavy application. First, you have to back up your important data then perform a full system scan of your computer system. Also, remove all the unwanted application installed in your system.

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  • CharlesJC
    Catherine, You can get the list of processes needed to run the OS by booting into Safe Mode then reviewing the processes that are running. Another option, since you have WinXP, is to run MSConfig (from the Run menu) and choose the selective startup option, where you can initially disable all unnecessary startup processes and re-enable them one by one. Once you have the list of processes that you want to run at startup you can either continue to let MSConfig prevent the others from starting handle it manually. By manually I mean remove shortcuts from the All Programs - Startup submenu and going into services.msc and changing many of the services set to start automatically to start manually, so that if they are needed they will still start. Hope this helps. Charles
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  • Kevins74
    Honestly, I try to weigh wanting the problem fixed with how much effort and time it is going to take. From the sounds of it, you have wasted a lot of time with no luck. Granted, you get to learn about the computer, blah blah blah, but really your just wasting time (my opinion). Push your data files to an external backup drive, fdisk the system, format C:, etc... and start with a clean install. Then just be careful of anything you put onto the laptop. You said the programs you ran to remove garbage, found garbage. After you are done with the clean install, just load, (spybot S&D, Adaware, Zone alarm, and a good Anti Virus), keep the system up to date, don't load anything that makes you pause and think if it is safe. I wouldn't suggest this if you hadn't all ready tried a bunch of things, but time is a wasting and most likely a rebuild is sure thing, of course if it is hardware related, that might not be the case.
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  • Sidzilla
    I agree with Kevins74 about starting with a clean load. This will also tell you if it is a hardware issue, because once you have a clean install of Windows if the problem still exists it narrows it down. I usually reload my personal workstation and home computers about once every 8 to 12 months. I tend to install and uninstall a lot of software, and over time I get the same symptoms you are experiencing.
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  • GJMach
    If you'd rather not reload, and you are reasonable registry savvy, look at HKEY Local Machine > Software > Microsoft > Windows > Current Version > Run. This lists all the items that the machine loads on startup. If you see anything bizarre, look it up on Google and see what it is. It doesn't hurt to have a gander at all the items, though some will be pretty clear since they show the startup path for each item. If you see funky items there, or items you can CONFIRM are not necessary simply delete them. Now then, keep in mind that if you do have some spyware or adware in there, you'll see it reappear with no warning. In that case, you'll need to turn off system restore, boot into safe mode and clean them out then. It also would pay off to clean out your prefetch folder. This is a rather in depth operation, and if you aren't careful you'll end up needing to reload anyway. If it's this or reload, you have nothing to lose.
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  • Kevins74
    GJMach offers up another option to try. My suggestion, push the data you care about out to an external drive. That way when something goes wrong, you won't have be back on here with a new question, "How can I get the data I lost off a...,"ha ha.
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  • DigitalNomad
    There are some great suggestions here already Catherine, especially the comments about investing in a backup device. An absolute necessity for mobile users. Rewritable dvds are a good option too if your laptop is so equipped. I'd like to start out at the beginning and cover a few bases first that should help answer your questions and work on the problem.. First off let?s get some better tools to see what's running and starting up on your pc then get a few more to address performance and possible additional Spyware infections. 1. I'd recommend downloading and installing the following tools to help you out. a) http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/Autoruns.html Autoruns will give you a good view of what's startin up on your pc at boot, what the program executable?s name is and where it leads. b)http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/ProcessExplorer.html Gives you a really good look at what's running in memory at the current time....where the executable is, what?s its? name and where it leads. c)http://www.ccleaner.com/. This cleans ALL your temp files out. Print out the following set of instructions from http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Gaining-Speed-Empty-Prefetch-XP.html on eliminating prefetch files. d)http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/programs.php#hijackthis Hijack This is used for removing the worst of browser hijack spyware. e) http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html Spyware blaster. Prevents re-infection f)http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/PageDefrag.html defrags the windows pagefile. Here's a comprehensive guide on spyware removal for your review, it'll give you a good overview of the technicals on removing nasty spyware Print it out from http://www.intranetjournal.com/spyware/ The following guides will help on system performance http://www.theeldergeek.com/services_guide.htm What those services are and what they mean http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=183520&messageID=2051326&id=4260638 basic XP performance tweaks. To the Meat of the Matter. Ok, off the top of my head I?d suspect that you may not have gotten all the spyware and temp files off your PC. As a few responses have mentioned, it is sometimes easier to rebuild a PC then it is to remove Virii and Spyware. Let?s say that you don?t want to take that route at this point. Let?s find out what?s running and starting on your computer. Use both AutoRuns and Process Explorer to find out what is going on in your system. Both will give you an application directory and executable for what is running in startup or system memory. When it get?s down to it, techies will usually Google the executable name or directory name to find out whether it?s a good or bad program. This will usually lead to a forum or webpage listing it as a true spyware. One of the greatest comprehensive lists is held at http://www.castlecops.com/StartupList.html . Castle cops has a lot of posted information concerning spyware and removal process. Generally I recommend running Spybot and Adaware in safe mode with network support to update their files. This mode usually prevents spyware from loading. Run both a spyware and virus sweep after updating the utilities. Review the Internet journal Guide to give you an overview of some of the more advanced methods at removing spyware and in using HijackThis. Sometimes it may be better to post the logs and requests at a specialty site such as http://forums.spywareinfo.com or Castlecops. Once you?ve gone through your PC and removed any remaining baddies, install Spyware Blaster to prevent reinfection. This is akin to using Spybot?s immunization function but much more developed. Remember to update and rerun weekly. Performance So the above didn?t work which leaves us with tweaking performance or reinstalling. Before moving on make sure you backup your important data. Off the top of my head, I?d follow the instructions for deleting the prefetch cache after removing any of the usual suspects in startup such as Realmedia Update manager, Quicktime task and update, Java Engine update. Prefetch cache seems to be a common resource drain on XP. Follow the document at http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Gaining-Speed-Empty-Prefetch-XP.html and see if this makes a difference. Next, Run Crap Cleaner?.it gets all the crap out but be careful. Finally, follow the instructions at the following website to try some basic performance tweaks http://techrepublic.com.com/5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=183520&messageID=2051326&id=4260638 and disable additional services if necessary. The Elder Geek has a great reference page on services and what you should or shouldn?t disable. You can find that here http://www.theeldergeek.com/services_guide.htm. If you?ve reached this point with no improvement, there?s few options left. Backup your data and try a reinstall of the OS. The OS may be damaged at an internal level so deep that this is the only solution. If that however, doesn?t do the trick then we may be talking hardware but if the laptop is not ?down and out? you may have difficulty getting it fixed under warranty because it hasn?t suffered a complete failure. At that juncture, I?d recommend enlisting a professional. Good luck
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  • GeekDaddy665
    I agree with bobkberg's suggestion of slaving it as a data drive. In fact, I used spare parts to build up what I call a "clean box", a spare PC which is never connected to the net but is running all of the spyware/anti-virus software I need (updated via files off of a thumb drive, to insure that it doesn't hit the net for anything). It runs dual-boot and has a removable drive drawer that I stick the infected drive into for scanning. The first scan I do with the box is in Linux, to give me a good idea of what I am working with as far as infection (but since Linux can't write to NTFS partitions, it is just a simple look-see w/o worry of infection) and then I reboot into Windows and scan/clean it as best as possible. Then I pull the drive and stick it back into its host system and run the tools again, in safe mode to start out with (to make sure nothing's running in memory) then in full mode. Redundant and tiring, true, but effective.
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