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Computer "stuttering," among other weird stuff.

This is where you can ask questions and get and give help about hardware related issues. This Forum will be moderated by Taw with help from some other experts. So feel free to ask any questions you may have about computers.

Post Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:54 am

Computer "stuttering," among other weird stuff.

It really just started doing this two days ago, and just enough to actually get me concerned. Even during idle time, my CPU usage will jump from 0-4 % (which is normal on this comp) up into the twenties, thirties and this morning up into the 80s and 90s. It lasts for about a second, then goes back down to the normal usage, but about three or four seconds later it does it again. I noticed it when I was playing WoW and would hang up every few seconds. Ever since then there hasn't been a period of more than ten minutes where it didn't do it. Now, I know that probably the most likely explination is my motherboard, which I'm getting a new one in January anyway and hopefully that'll fix this. However, I'm not sure that it's the motherboard and I'm also not sure how to find out. So, is there anything that I can do from here to check? I'm tempted to just do another backup and restore the factory defaults, but I'm not sure that'll fix it.

A few days ago my virus scanner (Stop-Sign which has served me well in the past) said that I had a virus on my comp that their automatic cleaner could not remove, and that it required a custom cleaner. A few days later I recieved the cleaner, and it says it got rid of the virus. I then did a scan and it came up clean. Last night I got AdAware, scanned it and had it remove a few suspicious files, scanned again and it came up clean as well. However, none of that fixed this, and it's really getting me concerned.

The reason I'm thinking it's my mobo is because my comp has been doing other weird stuff reciently. I'd go to delete a file off my desktop, and when the window came up showing the progress the bar would either stay empty or become full, and just stay like that. It wouldn't close automatically like it should, and I'd either have to hit cancel or X out to close the window. And now when I try to shut down it literally takes ten minutes. If I go to start and then shut down, it takes five minutes to pull up the window asking if I want to restart, log off or shut down, and if I select restart or shut down it then takes five more minutes to actually do it.

Like I said I think it's my motherboard, but I don't know that it is and I'm not sure how to find out. Here's the dxdiag info. (Sorry for the long post but I wasn't sure what of all this I could get rid of to shorten it. I didn't want to remove something you may wanted to take a look at.

System Information
Time of this report: 12/28/2006, 12:52:15
Machine name: BIOHAZARD
Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)
Language: English (Regional Setting: English)
System Manufacturer: HP Pavilion 061
System Model: ED903AA-ABA a1219h
BIOS: BIOS Date: 09/30/05 18:13:56 Ver: 08.00.10
Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.06GHz
Memory: 1016MB RAM
Page File: 498MB used, 1942MB available
Windows Dir: C:\WINDOWS
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
DX Setup Parameters: Not found
DxDiag Version: 5.03.2600.2180 32bit Unicode

DxDiag Notes
DirectX Files Tab: No problems found.
Display Tab 1: No problems found.
Sound Tab 1: No problems found.
Music Tab: No problems found.
Input Tab: No problems found.
Network Tab: No problems found.

DirectX Debug Levels
Direct3D: 0/4 (n/a)
DirectDraw: 0/4 (retail)
DirectInput: 0/5 (n/a)
DirectMusic: 0/5 (n/a)
DirectPlay: 0/9 (retail)
DirectSound: 0/5 (retail)
DirectShow: 0/6 (retail)

Display Devices
Card name: Intel(R) 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset Family
Manufacturer: Intel Corporation
Chip type: Intel(R) 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset
DAC type: Internal
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2582&SUBSYS_2A08103C&REV_04
Display Memory: 128.0 MB
Current Mode: 1024 x 768 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Plug and Play Monitor
Monitor Max Res: 1600,1200
Driver Name: ialmrnt5.dll
Driver Version: 6.14.0010.4332 (English)
DDI Version: 9 (or higher)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 6/8/2005 13:19:08, 38014 bytes
WHQL Logo'd: Yes
WHQL Date Stamp: n/a
VDD: n/a
Mini VDD: ialmnt5.sys
Mini VDD Date: 6/8/2005 13:27:04, 1050140 bytes
Device Identifier: {D7B78E66-66C2-11CF-6063-020AA5C2CB35}
Vendor ID: 0x8086
Device ID: 0x2582
SubSys ID: 0x2A08103C
Revision ID: 0x0004
Revision ID: 0x0004
Video Accel:
Deinterlace Caps: n/a
Registry: OK
DDraw Status: Enabled
D3D Status: Enabled
AGP Status: Not Available
DDraw Test Result: Not run
D3D7 Test Result: Not run
D3D8 Test Result: Not run
D3D9 Test Result: Not run

Sound Devices
Description: Realtek HD Audio rear output
Default Sound Playback: Yes
Default Voice Playback: Yes
Hardware ID: HDAUDIO\FUNC_01&VEN_10EC&DEV_0880&SUBSYS_08800000&REV_0905
Manufacturer ID: 1
Product ID: 100
Type: WDM
Driver Name: RtkHDAud.sys
Driver Version: 5.10.0000.5128 (English)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
WHQL Logo'd: Yes
Date and Size: 6/8/2005 18:22:20, 3160576 bytes
Other Files:
Driver Provider: Realtek Semiconductor Corp.
HW Accel Level: Full
Cap Flags: 0xF5F
Min/Max Sample Rate: 100, 192000
Static/Strm HW Mix Bufs: 33, 32
Static/Strm HW 3D Bufs: 33, 32
HW Memory: 0
Voice Management: No
EAX(tm) 2.0 Listen/Src: Yes, Yes
I3DL2(tm) Listen/Src: Yes, Yes
Sensaura(tm) ZoomFX(tm): No
Registry: OK
Sound Test Result: Not run

Sound Capture Devices
Description: Realtek HD Front Pink Jack
Default Sound Capture: Yes
Default Voice Capture: Yes
Driver Name: RtkHDAud.sys
Driver Version: 5.10.0000.5128 (English)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Date and Size: 6/8/2005 18:22:20, 3160576 bytes
Cap Flags: 0x41
Format Flags: 0xFFF

Description: Realtek HD Digital input
Default Sound Capture: No
Default Voice Capture: No
Driver Name: RtkHDAud.sys
Driver Version: 5.10.0000.5128 (English)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Date and Size: 6/8/2005 18:22:20, 3160576 bytes
Cap Flags: 0x41
Format Flags: 0xCC0

Description: Realtek HD Front Green Jack
Default Sound Capture: No
Default Voice Capture: No
Driver Name: RtkHDAud.sys
Driver Version: 5.10.0000.5128 (English)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Date and Size: 6/8/2005 18:22:20, 3160576 bytes
Cap Flags: 0x41
Format Flags: 0xFFF

(I guess I went over the post limit here. It's not letting me post the rest of the information.)

Edited by - Killa on 12/28/2006 9:58:35 AM

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:22 am

it might be your motherboard, but more probably it's software related, the result of viral/trojan or spyware/malware activity.

update your AV and do a full scan on drive C: including the memory areas, startup objects, mailboxes etc. You must let this finish. Quarantine or delete anything that it finds. Personally I'd recommend changing your AV suite to Kaspersky, F-prot, or Macafee, as I know that they're all very, very good.

update Ad-Aware to the latest build and definitions then run a full scan, not a smart scan. Quarantine or delete everything that it finds.

run a registry cleaner throug the system, Norton Windoctor, CCleaner, Registry Mechanic, they're all good. Fix everything they find.

Now, here's the harder part (it's not really hard though) Delete the contents , and not the directories themselves, of the following locations:-

C:\Documents and Settings\your account name \Local Settings\Temp\*.*
C:\Temp\*.* (but you may not have this directory anyway)
C:\Windows\Prefetch, except for the file layout.ini which you must keep.

and then empty all this cr*p out of the Recycler, you don't need it and viruses/trojans love it.

rather more involved now - look at the stuff that's running in your system tray and decide if you need it or not. Printer utilities, various "smartstart" programs, multimedia apps, ad-supported rubbish like Gator and Bonzi Buddi, you don't need any of it. To stop it running, go to start, run, and type "msconfig," go to the startup tab and untick all the ones you don't need. Also disable MS-Office as a startup item as it's a resource hogger and doesn't do anything remotely useful.

That might take a bit of trial and error as it's not always obvious what the various bits and pieces in Startup relate to!

And defrag - I use Diskeeper, not Windows Defrag, but the bundled one is ok if you haven't got anything else.

Now then, I would advise that before you start all this stuff, you create a system restore point, then DISABLE System Restore - why? because many many trojans and nasty bits of code love System Restore and make their homes there, happily hiding from many virus scanners only to pop back up when the scans over or the system rebooted. You shouldn't have System Restore on while doing this kind of diagnostic and repair work, it should only go back on when you're happy you've sorted the problem(s.) But if you created a restore point, at least you'll have something to go back to if you mess it all up!

You might also want to check the obvious things in your BIOS, no shadow functions on, everything set to PNP, caches enabled, sufficient video aperture.

Incidentally are you using a firewall other than the XP one? And is this pc networked to other pcs in the house?

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:35 am

one other thing, before I forget; empty your browser cache and cookies folders.

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:11 am

Great advice Taw, but you forgot about fixing windows files. They may have been damaged when he removed the virus. Killa Right click your C drive then go to properties,Tools then Error-Checking and put a check mark in automatically fix file system errors. Don't check the second one unless you have alot of time to kill. Now reboot and let it do its thing. Hope that helps

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:51 pm

but that only checks file and directory structures and the MFT. it doesn't deal with registry truncations or invalid ActiveX entries or corrupted CLSIDS, which are more likely to be damaged by this sort of problem

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:45 pm

it takes 45 minutes to install XP.....and about 3 days to figure out whats wrong with it in a case like this... do the math, and re-install it cleanly - then install all your programs and make a restore point or something

Post Sat Dec 30, 2006 10:19 am

Your right Taw, But the way Killa describes his problems it sounds like a directory structure problem, windows is taking a long time to find stuff. Cold_Void is right also. If it was me I would just format and reinstall, may solve potential problems down the road.

Post Sat Dec 30, 2006 9:08 pm

From one hp Pavillion user to another...

remove, reformatt and reinstall. done
The "Surge" you see in CPU activity means something is definately running in the background...sometimes it's a program trying to access the internet.
In your Task Manager, you'll notice that surge in CPU Performance is most likely linked with some Process that appears briefly and then dissappears. It can be hard to catch and find out what it is.

I recently had a problem with my anti-virus program causing just exactly the same shut down problems. After contacting Norton about it, they told me what I needed to change to fix that. That did the trick (at least for this pc) .

If you have a built in Recovery Partition: (I'm sure you have one)
Turn off System Restore so you don't reinstall any unwanted nasty stuff by accident. (Viruses and such love the Restore function, so turn it off until you're reformatted back to factory settings)
Save what you want to keep to a separate CD, DVD, HD backup device. (Before loading it back onto your newly formatted Hard'll need to scan them with the anti-virus program)
Then do a complete full destructive system recovery (recovers to original factory default settings)
(Restart, press F1 or F-something to go into Recovery operations)
After Recovery is accomplished, you'll need to reinstall your anti virus program and get it's definitions back up to date. I stayed with Norton since it came with mine. But I got rid of my spy ware detectors since they also mucked up some essential programs.

Normally, the recovery partition is left alone by "bugs"...but if they ever get into the recovery're screwed. If they get into the Boot system...the same results.
Only option then is to take it to a PC specialist..unless you really know what you're doing.

If things are really running slower than usual...that means something else is using up your cpu. It could be a bug or a bunch of programs running in the background that you really don't need to have running.
If possible, consult with HP service support (1-800-474-6836) to find out what basic programs are needed to keep your hp running quick and smoothly. Something like 12 basic programs that are determined in the msconfig settings.
(Believe it or not..once I took one PC off line and removed the antivirus ran incredibly faster...but it stays off line)

I've lost count of the number of times I've done a full destructive recovery. But I've gotten better. LOL (That's one of the things I love about hp..its very forgiving of my muckups)

Edited by - Rankor on 12/30/2006 9:52:22 PM

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 6:07 am

<snorts> recovery disks, pah. Ghost your drive regularly then you'll never need a "recovery" disk, or have to 'phone those corporate tech "support" monkeys in Hyderabad.

it doesn't sound like file and directory structure stuff to me at all, although I'm sure they're damaged as well by now. it sounds far more like registry corruption and runaway processes caused by viral/trojan damage. I see this all the time from the nuggets who whine that their laptop or pc isn't working, then I go along and find that they've been downloading loads of rubbish that's trouncing their machine. it's invariably some adware/spyware riddled tripe they've ignorantly downloaded despite all my warnings to the contrary. They never admit it, not at first anyway; I always get "it just started" or some other excuse, then on further investigation (usually armed with security audit log as evidence) I'll extract a confession of "so-and-so told me to go to this site" or "so-and-so installed this for me" which invariably means I get to restrict someone else's account rights there's always a dark cloud to every silver lining.....

wipe the thing with your recovery disk. might as well, at least it gets the pain over with. I have never used a recovery disk to fix a pc! only to repartition and reformat/reinstall after machines have returned from their deployment as something else (UNIX terminals or NT Workstations, for example)

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:11 am

Well, either that AdAware has gotten rid of some of that crap that was causing this, or this is the calm before the storm. The last few days my comp has been acting normally. The CPU usage line doesn't look like a heart monitor for someone in cardiac arrest, and my programs haven't been hanging up (WoW is running just as smoothly as it always has, although that's really the only game I've played for the past week.) My processes are at 52 right now, the normal number as it's been 51 or 52 for as long as I can remember. I haven't shut down in the last few days, so I don't know if that's back to normal, but other than that it's working fine again. (All I've done was get AdAware and have it remove some critical objects that Stop-Sign missed.) I have an uncle who's a comp expert that lives near me, so if/when I have to do the reformating, I'll have him do it. (He actually knows what he's doing.)

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:17 am

Respects to you;

He's using an hp (Hewlett Packard) machine that has a built in recovery partition on a hard drive..just like mine. There is no separate "recovery disk" for these machines.
If you format the whole disk, you destroy the machines built in recovery capability which is a very bad idea for this type machine. If that is done, the only recourse would be to order the disks direct from Hewlett Packard. However, the machine will never be the same once this is done. Trust me.
Hp was very diligent when they built these pc's with this capability to ensure that the pc can "repair" itself with as little outside intervention as possible.

On a more serious note:
If something goes wrong with the system that even "Destructive Recovery" cannot fix, it is by far a more prudent thing to take the pc to a repair specialist.
Preferably to a certified Hewlett Packard repair specialist in this case.

The registry is one of those areas that you don't want to go mucking around if you don't know what you're doing and don't know what to look for. Screwing around with that can lead to nearly irreparable damage. But for sure, screwing around with the recovery partition will surely lead to irreparable damage that only an special order recovery disk might be able to fix.
It is best to refer to the Hewlett Packard Specialists to avoid making serious mistakes on this type machine.

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:33 am

yes I know about the recovery partition. I immediately delete it on every HP machine that crosses my path, as i don't want my users even knowing that it exists. They have an IT dept (i.e. me) to fix these problems for them, and (trust me) every single time I've ever let them try to fix something themselves with a recovery disk or recovery partition, even if it's just to extract a driver, it's been a disaster and they lose all their work and e-mails. So in my experience, it's a terrible idea; it's purely to serve HPs purposes in reducing turnaround times of their outsourced technical support SLAs, by forcing the uneducated to reset the machine back to it's original state, in the process losing everything they've done in the meantime (but HP's SLAs class that as a fix.) Dreadful idea and should never have been invented.

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 12:39 pm

Well now Taw, there needs to be options that don't cost hundreds of dollars for the "rest of us."

Post Sun Dec 31, 2006 3:57 pm

I can see you keep your herd in check and I don't blame you there. I guess there can be nothing worse than a network full of rookies trying to fix their own workstations especially when they don't know anything about hp's.
That's job security for IT experts like you!
However, for pc end users like killa and me, we tend to need that extra padding the recovery partition gives us and if we're careful...we survive till the next wave of lunacy that strikes us.
We on the end of the line have to learn (sometimes the hard way) what we have to avoid to keep our pc's running smoothly.
All the spy ware detectors, the anti-virus programs and anti-intrusion software adds up to no better than a hill of beans if we first don't mind our own activities with our own pc's as we use the internet.

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