Beyond what you would expect for someone who started college in 1992, I know very little about the workings of computers. (So, basically, a knowledge of various terms, and a capacity to make minor tweaks on my own based on a general familiarity with the different control panel functions, but no real understanding of how things actually work, hardware-wise.) With that in mind:
My laptop has been incredibly slow over the last month, and I haven’t figured out a way to fix it…probably because I’m not pinpointing the source of the problem, because I don’t know where to look or the right questions to ask. Here’s the relevant (or relevant as far as I know) information that I’ve got at my fingertips.
I’ve got a 2004 or 2005 Sony Vaio notebook running Windows XP. It’s got 447 MB of RAM and a 30 or 40 gig hard drive. My internet connection is DSL. I use AVG for anti-virus and anti-spyware, I’ve got some sort of firewall (don’t know the specifics), I try to defrag my hard drive (which is partitioned into C: and D: ) pretty regularly, and I also use Spybot and Adaware every few weeks or so.
I use my notebook for the following things: (1) checking my e-mail; (2) surfing the web (mostly blogs, newspapers, and message boards, using either Internet Explorer or Firefox interchangeably); (3) doing work (which uses Word, Adobe, and internet research services); (3) playing online poker; and (4) playing/downloading music. That’s it. No games, no streaming video, nothing else. And the playing/downloading music is pretty infrequent.
Until about a month ago, I was able to multitask like a charm: I could have four tables of poker going, as well as MS Word and several browser windows, and could switch back and forth between all of them quickly and freely. Then (I don’t recall exactly when, since I can’t recall doing anything or downloading anything that might have triggered it) it seemed like my notebook’s capacity to handle multiple things at once without terrible lag and frozen applications took a nosedive. Now I’m lucky if I can have one poker table and MS Word open at the same time without any browser windows, or one poker table and two browser windows without MS Word. And forget about playing any music if I’m running other programs as well.
Here’s what I’ve done about it: I defragged the hard drives again and used all the anti-spyware programs, of course. I’ve tried to turn off any extraneous services using msconfig. I figured it might be a RAM issue, so I increased my virtual memory and then downloaded a well-regarded freeware program that’s supposed to optimize your RAM usage (I don’t remember the name of the program…it seems to help – and when the computer slows down, it’s definitely reflected in the amount of RAM the program tells me I have available – but it hasn’t really solved anything). I thought about buying extra RAM, but (a) that’s expensive, so I don’t want to do it unless I’m sure that’s the problem, and (b) it means opening up my laptop and tinkering inside, so I really don’t want to do that unless it’s necessary. Then I talked to the computer guy at my work, who suggested I monitor the CPU tab in my task manager to see what’s using the processor. This hasn’t really helped, except that I’ve confirmed that when the notebook slows way down, the processor usage is generally 100%…but it’s being taken up by the same programs that it used to handle just fine! And other than that, I’m not sure what I can do to address the slowness issue.
So this thread is asking two related questions. First, have I given enough information above that people might be able to diagnose the likely problem and suggest solutions? And second, if not, what other information would help?
It’s kinda driving me crazy not to be able to work and play poker at the same time when working from home; strangely enough, that helped me focus on work and not get distracted and procrastinate-y like I’m prone to do.