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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 ;)
  21. Adrynalyne

    Adrynalyne Guest

    Here ya go.

    Attached Files:

  22. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Thanks! Halo...any thoughts after looking at the screen shot of my start up list? Anyone?

  23. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Hi Jen

    Yes a few can easily go from that listing of startups:

    Welcome Center ~ Do you need this to start everytime Vista boots, I originally thought it was nice start point but finally thought it was a PITB to popup each boot? Easy way to remove is to untick the Run at Startup box at the bottom left side of the Welcome Center window.

    Adobe Reader Speed Launch ~ Never seen any speed up in opening PDFs from HD or the Net with this running and unless your constantly using PDFs its a waste having this running.

    Groove Monitor ~ Do you use MS Office 2007 Groove alot? if not then remove this from startup, it doesnt harm the software and you can still open Groove manually ( I do it this way )

    IGFXTRAY ~ This is the options page for your onboard Intel Graphics, this IIRC can still be accessed from the Control Panel, open up your Control Panel and see if Intel Graphics icon is their, it should be as the system tray icon is only a shortcut to the control panel, so in essence this is not needed at startup as how many times do we have to adjust the graphics settings.

    MMtray ~ Musicmatch, again do you use this all the time and does it need to run at startup as this can be started manually?

    Quicktime Task ~ Apple Quicktimes updater and not needed.

    SunJavaUpdateSched ~ Sun Java updater, not needed.

    One Note Screen Clipper and Launcher ~ Do you use this app alot, like MS Groove if not then its not worth having it run at boot, it can be manually run from the start menu.

    These are the safest ones to remove and use CCleaner to do this.
  24. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2


    Great! I removed these using CCleaner and I'll see if that helps. What about these:

    HP Software Update
    Persistence (what is this??)
    Windows Mobile-based device management

    Also, any suggestion as to something to replace McAfee?

    Thank you so much for your help.

  25. usafveteran

    usafveteran MajorGeek

    AVG Anti-Virus Free is free for home/personal use and is a popular choice now among home users. For a firewall, I've seen many positive comments on Comodo.
  26. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    HP software update ~ is likely for a HP printer/camera? so can be removed as you can always just goto HPs support site on occasion and check for updates or if in your start menu and under HP folder their is a update link you can use that, so yes it can be removed.

    Persistance ( igfxpers.exe ) ~ This is another Intel helper for the grpahic card,

    Windows Mobile ~ Do you have any windows mobile devices linked to your PC, generally these will be a Windows Mobile version of a cellphone? http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/devicecenter.mspx if you dont connect to these devices then this running at boot is redundent, and likely added by DELL incase as a user your did have one of these devices.

    Hows your PC running now?

    I would be tempted to run a defrag at some point and re-run CCCleaner and not just the Junk remover but the Issues option to clean the registry out ( it will ask you if you wish to save the changes, DO so in case you need to recover back an entry removed, I have not had any issues with the registry cleaner in CCleaner but in computing never say never )
  27. augiedoggie

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

    I use Avast for the AV and the built-in firewall of Vista. I am way more comfortable with Vista, security wise, than I ever was with XP. However, I don't use Vista for financial transactions yet so my attitude may change about the firewall. Why the heck did MS make it so difficult to provide outgoing protection is beyond me.
  28. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    As for the question on what would I replace McAfee with, well see how your PC goes with it still installed for a while, but my choices in Vista are:

    Antivirus ~ Avast

    Firewall ~ at present the built in Vista one, as I am waiting for a Final version release of Comodo's free Firewall as its not Vista compatible as yet ( unless you wish to run the beta version )

    AntiSpyware ~

    Spywareblaster ( while its not a scanner it does help stop many malware infected websites from adding their junk to your PC, just needs manually updating each week )

    Vista's Built in Defender is OK-ish for Anti-Spyware, but you could use Spybot, however you will need to disable Windows Defender as two live scanning malware scanners could and will slow your PC down.

    as a backup scan to say defender and spybot I install, A-Squared Free ( this is a manual on demand scan and wont conflict with auto scanner.
  29. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2

    Ah, so I bet the Defender that is in my start ups is the Vista built-in spyware? I'm wondering also if there's a conflict between McAfee's firewall and Vista's built-in one? I've never done anything to disable Vista's and that may be another source of slow down with my performance.

    My system seems to be working MUCH better since i've done the things you all have recommended. Keep your fingers crossed and I'll continue to tweak things with virus and spyware protection and maybe I can eke out another year on my laptop.

    Thanks all,

  30. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Hi Jen

    Yes Defender is the inbuilt Vista antispyware.... as for McAfee's Firewall and vistas, its possible, but generally the 3rd party one as in McAfee should have disabled vistas own FW, Control Panel > Security > Security Center sould tell you which apps are running and protecting you.

    Great on your PC running better, I guess you have tweaked it just right and lets hope you get many years out of it.

  31. jenrsmills

    jenrsmills Private E-2


    Never looked at the Security Center before! You learn something new every day! It shows:

    Firewall: McAfee on, Windows off
    Spyware: McAfee VirusScan on, Spybot snoozed, and Windows Defender off
    All Internet security settings are set to their recommended levels

    So, I see that I can turn mcAfee off, turn on Vista's own Virus scanner and turn on Spybot or one of the others you've recommended (or whatever combination you recommended in an earlier post). That way I can see if performance is better without McAfee. I've heard that McAfee isn't the best out there, but I've used it a while and like an old dog... ;)


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