Troubleshooting Windows 7 slow down issue
I'm trying to troubleshoot a problem with a HP dm4-1050ca Laptop. It is running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. It belongs to a family member, not to me, so I'm trying to avoid a complete reinstall so they don't have to reconfigure everything to their liking again.
I've been working on this for the past couple of days without any success, so I'm hoping someone might have some insight.
The problem only occurs under specific conditions, but I'll list the symptons first:
- Most programs will not run. I get the spinning blue pointer that indicates Windows is working on something for several minutes, then nothing happens and the program I tried to run does not start.
- Cannot start Task Manager. Nothing happens at all when I try.
- Cannot open a command line. Nothing happens at all when I try.
- Cannot use ctrl-alt-delete. When I try the screen goes blank for about 60 seconds, then I get the message "The logon process was unable to display security and logon options when CTRL+ALT+DELETE was pressed."
- Cannot shut down or restart the computer normally. When I try to shut down I get a blank screen with the spinning blue pointer. That just sticks around forever until I do a hard power off.
And as for the conditions, this only happens if the computer has been connected to the internet. If I boot up the computer with wifi disabled and ethernet unplugged everything seems fine. If I connect to the internet the problem reappears, and if I disconnect the problem sticks around until the next time I boot without wifi or ethernet. I tried reinstalling the networking drivers in case there was a problem there, but that did not help.
What I've tried so far:
I booted into Safe Mode and everything was working there, so I disabled all autorun programs and all non-Microsoft services. I then rebooted into normal mode, but the problem was still there.
Since booting without wifi/ethernet allows me to run programs, I took the opportunity to run a full scan with Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Neither turned up anything.
I also took that opportunity to start up Task Manager first, then enable wifi, and watched to see if any suspicious processes started up. I noticed that svchost.exe -k netsvcs starts up as soon as the wifi is enabled, and quickly starts using 900mb of memory. This process only takes about 30mb on my working computers so something might be amiss there, but I'm not sure what to do about it.
Any thoughts on what the problem may be, or suggestions on next steps in troubleshooting?
Edited to update: While Googling around for help I found another posting suggesting resetting Winsock (enter "netsh winsock reset" in a command line). I then reboot and everything works, but only that once. On the next reboot the problem returns.
tasklist /SVC in a command prompt when it all goes haywire. It will tell you exactly what processes are running under svchost (there will be multiple instances). Then start killing svchost instances using the pid numbers till things get back to normal (taskkill /pid xxxx). You will need to do reboots as when you kill an instance, essential services may stop.
When you identify which svchost instance you can use process explorer to kill individual processes running in that svchost instance.When you know which process is the one causing issues then you really know where to start looking for a fix.
Whats the CPU usage like when this is happening? Usually you see high CPU usage at the same time. I remember back in the WXP days there was a bug with automatic updates that had the same symptoms. We had to reset the windows update cache to fix that one.
The only "quick" fix I can think would be to delete both the wireless and ethernet from device manager and chose to delete the associated drivers as well. Maybe it'll resolve the issue when it picks them up on reboot.
I very much appreciate the suggestions, however my family member needed her computer back ASAP so I just bit the bullet and did a reinstall, figuring that reinstalling everything would be faster at this point.
But just in case someone else with this problem comes across the thread, I'll report what else I found:
I followed Daedalus2002's tasklist /svc suggestion and then shutdown the services listed under the suspicious svchost. Unfortunately it didn't help. The problem remained even after all relevant services were stopped. Also the CPU usage on that process was at zero. I tried sswilson's advice of removing all wifi and ethernet drivers. Windows did reinstall defaults on its own, but when those were back in the problem resurfaced.
I still have no idea about the real culprit, but I just declared failure and reinstalled.
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