Leo, I’ve got an older desktop – about 10 years old which I maintain well. As I’m 89, I can’t see buying another one. I have 2 GB of memory, running XP 3, Pentium
4 motherboard, 80 GB hard drive, only 45% use. Using Firefox as my browser.
Verizon is selling me speeds of 15 down and 5 up. Lately, I’m getting only 4
down and 3.5 up which means I can’t do Skype or watch streaming video without
getting unbearably irritated. Verizon sent in a tech and he demonstrated that
the problem was in my computer. He eliminated the router or Ethernet card as
the problem and went away. Prior to his arrival, I did a virus scan, a malware
scan, a Spybot scan and a defrag; no problems showed up. So what do I do now? I
can’t Skype my granddaughter in France.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #28, I look at a computer that is acting slow running online
resources, look at its download speed, and suggest a few ways to analyze what
is taking up the resources.
My initial reaction here is that the Skype issue and the streaming video issue may not be related to your download speeds at all. I have a 3 MB connection, so I’m actually quite jealous of your 15 down and 5 up.
Using that 3 MB connection, I Skype just fine. I’ve done video chats on Skype; I’ve done Google hangouts and I fairly regularly stream video; I stream standard definition television programs from Amazon.com while I’m exercising and it actually works really, really well. I’ve been fairly impressed with the result.
So even at getting 4 down and 3.5 up, things should be working.
Now, you’re right. There’s a big bandwidth difference. If they’re selling you 15 and you’re only getting 4, and they’ve eliminated everything else, then yes, it could be a problem on your computer.
My suggestion (it’s really difficult to know exactly what might be going on)… but:
I suggest you start with Process Explorer. It’s a free download, a tool that will examine and display what’s running on your system.
There’s also a tool called Process Monitor, which will also do a nice job of summarizing what’s running on your system.
Between the two of them, these tools will help you understand if there’s one program that’s taking up all of your CPU.
Find out what’s running
It’s possible that a program may, in fact, be misbehaving and not allowing your CPU to run fast enough to do all of the other things that we’re asking it to do. The same thing applies to disk activity. It’s very possible that some program is accessing your disk at such a heavy rate as to slow down your entire system.
The same thing could be true for memory.
Do you have enough memory?
Now, as I say all this, two gigs memory on an XP 3 sounds fine, it really does. But, it’s on the borderline.
Ten years ago, that was a great machine; it really was. Even if you haven’t changed a lot of the software on the machine, per say, the demands we’ve been putting on our computers have only increased over the last 10 years.
It’s possible that you have slowly accumulated a number of pieces of software (updates to software perhaps) that are slowly putting more and more of a demand on your system… and as a result, slowing the entire system down.
Prioritize the attack
What I would do is I would prioritize the attack. I would take a look with a program like Process Monitor.
I’ll start you off with an article called, “Who’s using all my CPU?” (I think is what it’s titled), which will walk you through downloading Process Explorer, firing it up, and seeing exactly which processes are running on your machine; and who’s using the CPU.
Like I said, I really suspect that there’s just an accumulation of things that are working too hard; they’re taking up too much of your computer’s resources. Once you discover what those are, there are two possibilities:
- One is there may be an obvious culprit.
There may be a specific program that’s doing too much and you’ll turn it off. When you turn that program off (or uninstall it or whatever), then life gets better.
- The other possibility is that the software on your machine as a whole has gotten to the point where it all needs more resources than your computer has.
If that’s the case, you’re going to have to take a look at the software running on your machine and see if you can’t turn some of those things off… to decrease the amount of resources required.