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I'm investigating the causes for my 2-year-old Samsung laptop running slow and sometimes hanging under very slow stress. I have some friends which had the exact same model as mine and had to send their laptops back to Samsung, all with similar problems - and each received a different diagnosis. Unfortunately, this is not a possibility for me, since it's not under warranty anymore.

I had my laptop dual-booting with Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7, and I was experiencing the problem with both OSes. Tired of Ubuntu, I decided to give Fedora 19 a try - but even with a fresh install I'm still sometimes very slow performance. However, given enough reboots, eventually it runs smoothly.

For all that, my suspicion is that there's a hardware problem. What are the most likely candidates to be causing the problems and which tools can be used to investigate them?

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maybe you have a HW-Test integrated in your BIOS which can test your RAM and other things? – Gotschi Dec 11 '13 at 20:08
Have you opened it up and cleaned out all the heatsinks and fans? – Mokubai Dec 11 '13 at 20:46
What were the diagnoses in the cases of your friends? What is slow on the computer -- disk? (high activity during slowness, weird noises), graphics? (slow graphic operations like moving of full window), overall? -- Is the temperature of some parts of the computer too high? Is the fan working correctly? Is not there too much of dust inside? (the comment above) -- Try to remove / disable (e.g. in BIOS) / replace some hardware components: HDD (boot live OS), CDROM, RAM, wifi... – pabouk Dec 11 '13 at 20:47

Most likely issue is memory. Suggest booting from a LiveCD, LiveDVD or LiveUSB Ubuntu family distro and running memtest for a prolonged period of time.

Also, what is the memory configuration? Are there multiple modules, and if so, are they the same size and type? If not, try just the larger/faster module and see if the performance issue clears.

I'd also suggest running a S.M.A.R.T. test of your drive. If it fails, that is also user-replaceable, as is the memory.

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