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Help with Vista and Performance

Discussion in 'Software' started by jenrsmills, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    I'm at my wits end! Here's the G2:

    Dell Inspiron laptop
    Vista Business
    Intel Pentium M 1.73 GHz
    RAM 2039 MB (just added to the max)

    The problem is that even with no applications running, my physical memory of 2038 has over 1500 MB cached and only about 2-50 MB free. If I'm running something (particularly AOL or IE) the free goes down to zip and my CPU usage is often clocking at over 90% and it's dog slow. I had added some memory above what came with my 1 1/2 year old laptop and had the same problem, so I maxed it out thinking that would solve my problem. But, the same thing happens.

    I have McAfee, run Spybot and Adaware, have all my firewalls in place, and have never had a virus. This is affecting my performance and I can't help thinking that there's something going on in the background.

    Do you think I can do anything to help my performance? I'm grateful for all your suggestions. If I've missed any info that you need, please ask!

  2. augiedoggie

    augiedoggie The Canadian Loon - LocoAugie (R.I.P. 2012)

    Is this just a typo or are you really running more than one firewall? I have Vista Ult running on a 1GB desktop rig and memory usage stays around %50-%60
  3. Mada_Milty

    Mada_Milty MajorGeek

    There are updates to improve the performance and reliability of Vista. See this thread for details.

    Additionally, you can always go through, and tweak your startup programs (paying particular attention to Vista's services)

    But, as Augie said, it's never a good thing to have multiple software firewalls, or more than one AV or AS with real-time scanning.

    This catches my eye, though. This sounds like there's a problem with an application dependency. When this happens, immediately kill the program taking up all your resources, and then check your application log for errors, and post back with the Event ID number, the source, and the exact error description.
  4. usafveteran

    usafveteran MajorGeek

    I was also wondering about the "firewalls". And, getting rid of McAfee would probably help. In my Notebook PC with Vista Home Premium and 1GB of RAM, Task Manager shows Physical Memory at 46%.

    But, I'm wondering whether we're all reading from the same sheet of music here. Here's a screen print of my Task Manager's Performance tab:


    What, really, is the significance of cached memory? Is it available for whatever Windows needs it for? If so, then why worry about the amount of "Free" memory?

    Maybe the key question should be, how is your system performing in normal use? Do you have specific performance issues?

    Edit: OK, you do have specific performance issues: "If I'm running something (particularly AOL or IE) the free goes down to zip and my CPU usage is often clocking at over 90% and it's dog slow."
  5. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Sorry, it is a typo: I only have McAfee running as my firewall.

  6. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest

    Exactly. Putting too much emphasis on cached memory. Vista "pre-emptively" caches applications and what not to predict what you will use next, so that it loads faster. If these applications do not get used, Vista wil let go of the ram. If another application needs said ram, Vista will also let go of it.

    The more ram you have, the more Vista will use for caching. Unused ram is wasted money!

    Allow me to suggest there are some other things gong on.

    1. As mentioned sounds like you have some CPU hungry apps installed and running.

    2. Its single core--how well do you really expect it to multitask?

    3. Its a slower CPU.

    4. Its a laptop. SLower hard drives definately affect Vista performance.

    5. Once again, CPU hungry apps installed, and/or malware. The CPU usage would not go up from running out of physical ram, as you have mentioned.
  7. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2


    I'll check on these things. I'm a bit squirmish about my startup programs--I don't want to tweak something vital! I'll go through and read your link and see how much I feel comfortable with doing.

    I agree that it seems as though it's either what's running in background (startup items), or something with the applications. I find it hard to believe that my system would almost shut down running IE, though. I will check the application log for errors and post back here with the Event ID, source and exact error description.

    Thanks for the suggestions--VERY much appreciated!

  8. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest

    Just to show I'm not a liar, I'll post a screenie. I too, have 2gb of ram, and no slowdowns like you mentioned.

    Attached Files:

  9. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Interesting. Didn't know that. I just assumed that the cache was being used by something, not just preemptively set aside by Vista. Frustrating that my barely 1 1/2 year old system is once more a "slow" CPU! I have to have a laptop for our business, but, maybe it's time once again to upgrade to a newer one...

    I'm checking on malware and application problems as suggested by another responder. Thanks!

  10. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest


    I know this isn't really helpful, but you aren't alone. I have a friend who also had this very same Pentium-M, who had the very same problem with it being dog slow, even in XP. He ended up getting a core 2 duo machine and ahs been happy ever since.

    I just setup an Acer Aspire laptop for my Aunt that came with Vista Home Premium for 629 bucks.

    It has:

    C2D @1.67ghz
    2gb ram
    160gb hard disk
    built in webcam
    media card reader
    wired and wireless nics built in
    15.4 in screen
    some sort of onboard video from Intel that I didnt pay attention to.

    It smokes in Vista, even with the default garbage Acer installs.
  11. Mada_Milty

    Mada_Milty MajorGeek

    Sounds like a decent machine, but I gotta raise a flag of caution on Acer's Vista laptops.

    For whatever reason, Acer has been shipping Vista on hardware that would barely run XP. I've have TWO come to me now with disgustingly low specs. If buying a new laptop is in your future, jenrsmills, keep your eye out.
  12. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest

    Yeah I went with her when she bought it to be safe. Circuity City sales reps were fidgeting nervously and their eyes were twitching as I shut down their demo overlays and was inspecting the performance ratings, cpu and memory usage on each machine. Then customers were asking me questions about the machines, instead of them.

    I was impressed to say the least; the new generation low voltage C2D CPUs are pretty snappy, despite their low speed.
  13. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    After having worked for some major manufacturers, I'm always a little leery about buying anything but major systems--although I def understand the "more for less" with smaller companies. I like the reassurance of the big guy behind me. rolleyes

    That said, I've been out of the high tech industry for 9 years and wonder what would be the best processer to buy with, say, Dell, HP, or one of the other manufacturers? Any thoughts? Any must haves? We run a WiFi business, I'm on the Internet constantly, and have T1 and DSL connections. This is really a hardware forum issue, but I'd be interested in hearing your opinions!

  14. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    I had AOL (I know you all hate AOL--but I use it!) shut down unexpectedly with high CPU usage earlier when I was typing a response to this thread. I just went in the application log and couldn't figure out where the event was. There were a ton of warnings and errors and such. What specifically should I look for, please?

  15. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    What would you recommend instead of McAfee? I've never liked it, but have been hesitant to get something else until I get some recommendations.

  16. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    I have a ACER 5630 series Intel C2D 2GB ram and dedicated Nvidia card and run Vista with no issues, all hardware compatible with Vista.... but I do agree with Mada if you go lower end laptops then you do tend to run into speed issues as most have 1GB ram and shared GFX which suck up at least 128MB of your system ram, so always best to do with a dedicated GFX card from ATi or Nvidia.

    Is your Mcafee one of the Securitty Suites with Antivirus, firewall, antispyware etc? if so and if your running Spybots Tea-Timer, turn off the Tea Timer part.

    You may as mentioned have too many un-necassary startups and if youy are willing to post a list of startups ( can get this from the likes of CCleaners Startup listing or Msconfig Startups ) adn we could advise you as to which ones are really safe to remove, as many are just usless updaters.
  17. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Yes, my McAfee is a security suite but I don't have the spam, identity protection or parental controlds activated. I was running Spybot's Tea-timer and just uninstalled it, and reinstalled it (because I couldn't figure out how to turn off the tea-timer :p). Now, I have it running without the Tea-timer and we'll see if that helps.

    Also, I would be very willing to post a list of startups. How would I do that? An attachment? A screen shot?


  18. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Hi Jen

    Yes a screenshot is fine, just download and install CCleaner ( if you dont have it already CCleaner )

    Once run, click Tools > Startup and you will get listing like mine below, ok yours maybe longer.....


    and yes just attach the screenshot, if the full screenshot is too large to attach to the forum, just do as I have done and crop it for the relevent bits.
  19. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Screenshot help needed for startup menu!

    Okay, I've done this and I can't figure out how to get the screen shot to copy. I've saved it as a compressed PDF file and all I can get down to is 105 KB and the max is 97KB per Major Geek guidelines! HELP! I've tried to cntrl-alt-prnt scrn and CntrlV to paste on here to no avail.

    Please tell me how to paste this screenshot!


    Last edited: Oct 19, 2007
  20. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest

    Re: Screenshot help needed for startup menu!

    I'll post it.

    Email it to:

    adrynalyne at majorgeeks dot com.

    Of course, format the address correctly ;)

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