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I have a Lenovo g560 3-4 years old, Intel i5, with 2GB ram and with a Geforce 310M. It always had some issues during startup or when starting a new program, but recently it just went crazy.

From the 2GB I always have 300-800 Mbs free, and the cached memory rarely goes above 300 (from 1.9gb maximum), the cpu performance is great (barely reaches 40 percent). Even like this, when I start or even just swap the screen to another bigger program the change of the windows becomes really slow and gradual (e.g. I see the 'pop-up' visual effect, but have to wait for the new windows, which appears only very gradually, first the edge of the frames, then other parts etc). At the same time the mouse cursor's movement is fine (but not the context-dependent changes), and I also got immediate response for the alt+tab combo (that is, the popup window with the opened applications). The lagging also stops sometimes when the program has already loaded in the window.

My suspicion would be that the hard drive causes the whole thing, because its led works a lot, and the laptop had always a considerable degree of lag when I had to manage files or start programs (especially compared to their 'loaded' speed). On the other hand, however, the resource manager does not really show too much disk usage (or I just do not see it)

I ran Winzip Utilites to optimize the computer (malware/junk search, disk defragmentation, driver updates, registry clean-up) but It made things even worse. I think the reason for this was that it turned on the Aero theme. When I changed it back to basic (after the Windows noticed the slowness and asked about that) it did some help, now it is 'just' slow.

Some resource monitor screenshot during lagging:

enter image description here enter image description here

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at this point 2GB is pretty minimal, and 300MB free is for all intents and purposes "used up", but yes, I would look at your hard disk SMART, chkdsk, and fragmentation. –  Frank Thomas Jun 13 '13 at 16:37
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You need more RAM. Look at how small the cache is (less than 15% of memory) and how much I/O you're doing to the page file. (Get rid of the memory optimizer. It's worse than useless.) –  David Schwartz Jun 13 '13 at 17:38
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Note that technically, you have NO free memory: in the screencaps, you are using 100% of the total installed physical memory. The memory optimizer is using 1/4 of the total as well: optimized for inneficiency. –  horatio Jun 13 '13 at 20:09
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A computer with considerable free memory can be slow precisely because the OS is huffing and puffing to evacuate pages so that it has free memory. –  Kaz Jun 14 '13 at 5:19
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Everyone here just seems to look at the Memory. Maybe your real problem is your graphics card - can you check that it's still alive and you don't run on software graphics? That would explain why your windows draw slowly, for example when you switch windows, but would have nothing to do with CPU, RAM or hard disk. –  kutschkem Jun 14 '13 at 10:46
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7 Answers

The disk activity is on the pagefile. You need more RAM.

Note that the Winzip memory optimiser is using more the 25% of the RAM. I'd get rid of that and any similar utilities before you investigate further.

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Well, memory optimizers are supposed to take up lots of memory; they release it when it's actually needed. But that hasn't actually been helpful since Windows 98. Windows 7 definitely does a better job of using/organizing memory than that utility will, so definitely get rid of it. –  BlueRaja Jun 13 '13 at 22:52
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@BlueRaja All memory optimizers do is push everything to the swap file, forcing you to page everything back in the instant you start using your computer again. So all it does is give you a warm fuzzy feeling of "aww, I use only 300MB of memory" then wait 5 minutes for your system to recover. In other words, they are disrupting the system's caching process on purpose for no reason. Don't use them. –  Thomas Jun 14 '13 at 1:04
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@Thomas In ancient days (Win98) they did help - after that 5 minute recovery, there's stuff in the swap file that under normal circumstances wouldn't have been swapped (background programs and such that pretty much just sit there if you don't interact with them), leaving you with more available memory. –  Izkata Jun 14 '13 at 12:01
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Everything is automatically in the swap file. If a program is not doing anything and an active one needs more ram, windows will take it back and then swap that app in only when it becomes active again. You don't need a memory manager, windows does it already. The best situation is where your memory is always full but of stuff you want, memory managers are all smoke and mirrors. They make actual usage worse praying on the misconception that it is good to have memory sitting there unused. –  JamesRyan Jun 14 '13 at 15:22
    
Also, ditch WinZip (and WinRAR) for 7-Zip. Not only is it free, it's open-source. –  Cole Johnson Jun 14 at 20:00
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2GB is not plenty of RAM. I consider that the minimum for medium usage PCs.

Also, your hard drive is a 5400 RPM drive, which is going to be a huge bottleneck. When the 2GB of RAM does need to fetch, and it will often then it is going to have to go to your slow hard drive. This is confirmed by the high IO we see on your hard drive.

I would at minimum upgrade the drive. Either get a hybrid drive like the Seagate Momentus XT or an SSD. This alone should fix it, but a bump in RAM would also make a huge difference.

As for:

I ran Winzip Utilites to optimize the computer (malware/junk search, disk defragmentation, driver updates, registry clean-up) but It made things even worse.

Not surprising. These optimization programs are known for causing issues more than fixing them, especially when they are allowed to touch the registry. All they can do is guess and it can be bad. I would upgrade the hard drive and use a clean new image.

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@Luc I hate programmers who choose to optimize for avoiding resource constraints on an obsolete system as opposed to using more of the resources on my computer to improve performance. –  Dan Neely Jun 13 '13 at 21:07
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I hate operating systems that do not do anything more (with no applications running) than operating systems did 15 years ago, but need 20 times the RAM. –  Kaz Jun 13 '13 at 21:20
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@Kaz - The requirements for Windows XP haven't changed. Windows 7 does more in the background than XP did, so it needs more RAM. I assume Windows 8 does even more. Whether all that extra background work is useful is another issue, but it is doing more. –  Bobson Jun 13 '13 at 21:33
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@DanNeely Avoiding using unnecessary resources speeds things up, it doesn't slow things down, so that quite misses the point imo. Besides, if 2gb is obsolete then I think around 60% of the users in the western world (or 95% in other countries) are running obsolete systems. Definition of obsolete: "No longer produced or used". –  Luc Jun 13 '13 at 23:17
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@Bobson that is especially true when you consider all the people who buy $300 laptops from Wal-Mart. Those machines are meant to be short lived and disposable. –  AthomSfere Jun 14 '13 at 5:31
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I don't know if I'd call 2GB a lot of ram. But that's not the point.

  • Run some tests on your HDD. It could be on its way out. If that checks out, move to the next idea...
  • I would highly recommend reinstalling the OS. It still never ceases to amaze me how often this works. For all you know, there's an issue in the registry, or some dll file or god only knows what. If you reinstall and you're having the same problem, you can be certain beyond almost all doubt, its a hardware problem, and then you troubleshoot accordingly.
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I think before these steps, get rid of that WinZip Memory Optimizer thing... it's taking a ton of RAM especially for how little this system has. Then the steps you listed, then upgrading some of the obvious weak points in the system (small amount of RAM, slow HD) –  PeterL Jun 13 '13 at 18:51
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Yeah, I didn't catch the 5400 RPM drive detail. That's half of your bottleneck right there. –  MDT Guy Jun 13 '13 at 21:06
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The most obvious solutions have already been given by others (add memory (2GB is really not enough for Win7), remove the 'memory optimizer)'.

Some other things that may help, permanently:

  • If you're also unsatisfied with slow startup, use Startup Delayer. And check program settings 'Start when Windows starts' - do you really need that?

  • Check what all the processes running in memory are for. You can probably ditch several programs that you don't need.

  • Disable the search indexing that Windows does. I have seen machines with slower HDs and low memory grind their disks because of that.

  • Scan your disk with software that investigates all sectors and enables the SMART system to reallocate bad sectors (HDD Regenerator or SpinRite)

Some other things that may help a little, temporarily (for specific programs or speed in general):

  • Take some time to clean your disk: all browser cookies older than 2-3 years (I had accumulated 12000 cookie files in 5 years), all temporary files, and files you just don't need any more (burn them to DVD or store them in the cloud).

  • If you have more than one partition, move the swap file to another partition, then back. This recreates the file. If you have only one partition run SysUtils PageDefrag.

Others will probably come up with more tips.

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Since when is 2GB RAM not enough for Windows 7? Can't say that it works fast, but I'd even argue two Windows Server 2008 virtual machines can work on a 2GB Windows 7 host. –  Luc Jun 13 '13 at 20:43
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@Luc it obviously depends what you're doing; but even heavy browsing can push a 2GB system into using the swap file. –  Dan Neely Jun 13 '13 at 21:05
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@Luc 2GB RAM is the minimum required for Win7 on a 64 bit processor such as the the OP's i5. windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/products/… –  AllInOne Jun 13 '13 at 21:31
    
@AllInOne Right, hadn't taken x64 into consideration. –  Luc Jun 13 '13 at 23:11
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Since the disk is your bottleneck, how about trying a flash cache using Windows ReadyBoost(TM)? A cheap flash drive compatible with this gives you a nice boost, while you upgrade your drive.

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Can you give more info? How to choose a good one, how to set it up, what it actually does, etc? –  Canadian Luke Jun 13 '13 at 23:59
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I am not sure if anyone has precisely answered all aspects of your question, so I want to provide those answers and done clear advise to move forward.

Why is your computer running slow?The answers are in your screenshots: the resource monitor shows that the system process is doing 99% of the disk writes, and it is writing to the pagefile almost exclusively.

This means that your system is trying to substitute slow 5400rpm disk as though it is RAM.To fix this, several steps are necessary and one or two steps are recommended. Step 1, back up your system. Step 2, uninstall the WinZip memory utility as most have commented correctly on its contribution to problem. Step 3, set the pagefile to zero, defrag the drive, then initialize the pagefile to a reasonable 3Gb then defrag again, include the pagefile in the defrag process.

Step 4, download and install the latest video driver from NVidia, not from Windows update.The cleanly defragged disk, proper functioning pagefile, correct drivers, and no poor memory utility will get you back to normal.

After that it you want additional performance then throw $35 at a second stick of RAM.

Best of luck.

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2GB of RAM is a bit limited, as nowadays applications tend to be more greedy in RAM.

Actually when we see your Disk I/O activities are most due to the pagefile.sys (which is the disk cache file). It uses it when you don't have enough free RAM. Some has pointed out the 5400RPM disk, in fact, lower the speed the disk has, then the cache is.

In your memory screenshot, you can see that there is only 51MB (1749MB in use) of Free RAM memory.

Using a USB ReadyBoost is an idea, or upgrading your RAM memory to 4GB, and your problems will be solved.

This is how to check your RAM specs using CPU-Z : http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-3000-and-Essential/Memory-slots-on-Lenovo-G560/ta-p/390059 4GB (2 sticks of 2GB So-DIMM DDR3) of RAM should be around 50$ nowadays, not much expensive.

For your information, the Winzip RAM Optimizer is the one who is eating up more than 25% of your RAM, just uninstall it as it is useless (instead of freeing your RAM), then your memory use will return to 1.2GB only. But as I said, upgrading your RAM will be a long-term better solution, as you installed the Winzip RAM optimizer for a reason.

So : - Uninstall the Winzip Optimizer - If better but not enough, upgrade your RAM to 4GB

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