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This may not make a whole lot of sense so pls bear with me...

I am about to perform a routine check on one of my user's PC. Some background - the PC has a Xeon processor and 4Gb of RAM and running XP SP3 He has 2xHDD and pagefile is hosted on the secondary HDD (D:) and min/max values are set to 4096. NO pagefile on C: This user has 6 monitors so he has an NVIDIA Quadro NVS440 hosting 4xmonitors and an NVIDIA Quadro NVS290 hosting 2xmonitors. There is a video card driver from NVIDIA which is compatible with both NVS440 and NVS290 and he is on the latest version of that driver. (Note: Make of video cards are different - one is from leadtek and the other from Nvidia)

He is a heavy Bloomberg, Outlook, Word, and Excel user and runs two Citrix applications. Other apps are FoxIt PDF and IE.

Problems - Outlook and Excel frequently crashes - I am going to perform an Outlook and Excel repair and also check/remove unnecessary addins - will he lose any customizations if I repaired and chose "Restore my shortcuts while repairing" and do not select "Discard my customized settings and restore default settings". Does repair really repair anything? FYI - It stopped crashing ever since i moved a large spreadsheet he has open to his local HDD instead of over the network. This spreadsheet "refreshes" constantly as it is pulling live data to update cells and I suspect it was auto-saving so frequently that it caused crashes if saving over the network.

At times, his right click completely fails to respond. His left click works fine but he can't right click on anything in any Window and even on the desktop. Sometimes, he needs to start to close certain applications such as Adobe and the right click will start functioning again. I removed Adobe and installed FoxIt as I figured it was a resource issue but I do not think so as he does have sufficient resources when the problem is happening. Sometimes he can't bring task manager up until he kills certain apps. Definitely sounds like a resource issue but I am not confident that is the root cause.

Also not sure if this is related to one of the apps installed but his Start bar flickers (does not completely disappear) intermittently from time to time. The taskbar icons which are hidden appear and then get hidden again as if it was having "fits". I have performed reg scans, malware scans etc but problems do not go away. I am planning to perform sfc /scannow and office repair but would like to know if anyone has any other suggestions.

What about setting a "small" pagefile on C:. I have heard that this is recommended and may be the reason why a minidmp file was not generated when he encountered a blue screen.

Also, any feedback on his video cards? Do you think different models would cause problems? The drivers seem to work but he only has 2.5Gb out of 4Gb available RAM as I believe the video card chomped up a portion of this.

I have recommended creating a new profile for him but due to the amount of customisations he has and the amount of time and effort it will take to get him up and running again, he prefers to bear with the problem than to go down that path. However, at least once a week, his PC acts up and I can't think of any other tools or techniques to rectify his problems.

I guess we are at a stage where we just want to "stabilize" things so he won't encounter issues that frequently.

Any feedback is very much appreciated.

share|improve this question
Welcome to Allow me to give you a little constructive criticism. Your question is what is often referred to as a "wall of text". It is overwhelming and lacks focus. You'll get better feedback if you keep your questions short and very specific. If you need to, ask 5 questions instead of 1. After all, this is a Q & A site. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions if you have a lot of problems. – raven Mar 11 '10 at 1:10
Raven, thanks for the pointer ;) I didn't want to leave out any detail and wanted to give everyone a clear picture instead of having to answer questions for points i should have provided in my initial post. I do realise that it is a "wall of text" which shows how desperate i am to get it fixed :) Will definitely keep things short and sweet moving forward – molecule Mar 11 '10 at 1:18
You forgot to put the @ in front of my user name ;)… – raven Mar 11 '10 at 3:50
@raven: ahhaha ooops :) – molecule Mar 12 '10 at 8:00

You mention there is only 2.5GB of RAM available. Why would the video card grab this?

Can you monitor RAM and CPU use to see if there any anomalies? Are there any events in the event logs?

Running the Office repair as you suggest will leave customizations

share|improve this answer
Hey Dave, thanks for your feedback. Event viewer does not show any errors except those generated by Outlook or Excel crashes. For those crashes, it is always a different dll and the standard hungapp error. My mistake, it should be 2.75, based on some research, it is because both cards have 256Mb Video RAM and XP needs to reserve some address space to support this. I have swapped a 32Mb Video card as the secondary and we could see 3Gb of RAM but performance decreased and PC froze very often. Monitor RAM and CPU - do you mean with something like perfmon? – molecule Mar 11 '10 at 1:58
I'm assuming the RAM available to windows shrinks to 2.5g because it's a 32 bit machine. It'll only ever be able to address 4g in total including all devices RAM (e.g. graphics memory), registers and finally the motherboards RAM itself. The remaining 1.5 gig of RAM that can't be addressed is, in essence, wasted. – camster342 May 25 '11 at 5:23

Seeing as you're having graphical effects (the start bar and icons flickering and so forth) you may wish to try swapping out the primary video card if possible to see if that is faulty. Also try updating the video card drivers just in case that's it.

BTW, what version of Office are we talking about here? As for the crashing with the large spreadsheet open on the network but not crashing while stored locally, this suggests may be something to do with the network connect. Some things to try might be : Running Repair on office, uninstalling and reinstalling Office entirely, updating drivers for the network card, replacing network cable, move his PC to a different network switch or port on the switch.

You mentioned that the Spreadsheet was a large one... Does it by chance have a lot of VB Code or Macro programming in it? In my experience Excel is notoriously unstable once VBA applications get beyond a certain size, althought that would only cause the Excel crashes, and not the other effects you're seeing.

As a last suggestion, being the most destructive one, assuming the Xeon processor is 64 bit capable, you may wish to upgrade to 64 bit XP, or even better Windows 7 64bit. 64 bit XP will give you more usable memory to play with, and Win7 is just more stable in general.

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