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I have a fairly beefy machine:

  • Intel Q9450
  • 8GB DDR2800 (4x2)
  • Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD
  • Several other hard drives
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64

In the last month I've gotten a mysterious slowdown problem.

When I start my IDE (IntelliJ IDEA) it usually takes about 20 seconds on the SSD. If my machine has been on for a day or two (as far as I can tell this is the only pattern) and I try to start the IDE, it brings my machine to a halt. CPU usage goes up to 25% per core (so it's basically 100% usage) and it takes up to 5 minutes to start.

Other things I've noticed: iTunes will start to skip and stutter (my music is running off a second hard drive).

The only persistent things I'm running are:

  • AVG Anti-Virus
  • Spybot (the slowdown predates this)
  • Hamachi and Murmur (again the slowdown predates this)
  • Apple Airport Base Agent
  • HP OfficeJet 8500 driver/manager
  • Steam

The browser I use is Chrome. I can't think why that'd be relevant but it's always on so I thought I'd mention it.

When this happens I can't see a reason for it in the process list. No CPU hogs. No spikes in IO activity that I can see. Basically I'm at a loss to explain it and need to reboot, at which point everything returns to normal (for awhile).

FWIW the Intel SSD is about 75-80% full. I know being too full can really degrade performance. I don't believe that's the issue here.

Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do to fix this or at least help find what's going wrong? This same machine (sans SSD) could run Win XP and stay up fine for a month or two.

Edit: added Steam.

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Have you tried using the Intel SSD Toolbox? It allows you to inspect SMART attributes, and to see if any blocks (or whatever the correct term is) have "worn-out" and are hence not usable. –  sblair Apr 23 '10 at 13:54
    
25% per core = 25% total, not 100% total; thus CPU is not the problem. –  Tom Wijsman Jul 30 '10 at 9:26
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4 Answers

You can use Windows 7's Performance Monitor to take a look at your system and see what's going on.

screenshot

To run a test:

  • Start Performance Monitor as an administrator (right-click and "Run as Administrator")
  • Expand "Data Collector Sets"
  • Expand "System"
  • Right-click on "System Performance" and choose "Start"
  • Let your system work for a while (you will see a white and green play icon over the System Performance icon while it's running).

Once the test is done:

  • Expand the "Reports" folder
  • Expand "System"
  • Expand "System Performance"
  • Choose the test you want to view (it will be named COMPUTERNAME_DATEANDTIMEOFTEST)

See if there's anything out of the ordinary in the report. The report should have the "Resource Overview" section open by default, and any red circles should be looked at. Mine looked like this:

report

Microsoft has more information on Performance Monitor.

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From my experience, that sort of things happens when something is wrong with hardware, usually disks and such.

Do you have a disk in DVD drive? Try taking it out.
Do you have SMART monitoring installed/enabled? Check if your drives have any problems.
Try taking out HDDs one-by-one.

I'm pretty sure the issue is somewhere out there. Additionally, have you checked CPU and chipset temperature? Might be the thermal issue, as you probably know, CPUs tend to slow down when they overheat. The same is true for disks, by the way.

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Clean up the dust inside your computer. :-)

I had a similar issue with my Dell Latitude D830 laptop a while back, even though that was with Linux. After doing anything even relatively CPU hungry (watching a video, compiling code, whatever), everything suddenly crawled down to almost halt. Opening up new windows would take anything between 1-15 seconds, CPU frequency fell from 2 GHz to 800 MHz, CPU fans were throttled to full speed, and temperature was around +75C - +85C.

After cleaning up the dust things returned to normal. Idle temperature +35C - +40C, temperature under stress around +60C and no slowdowns or lockups whatsoever.

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You can try to troubleshoot this using XPerf, see the first part of my answer at SO.

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