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Older P4 Centrino laptop with XP Pro. Always been fairly reliable. However, it recently started behaving poorly: Windows will slow down to the point of almost locking up, applications slow down and crash, etc. I reinstalled XP from scratch and it "fixed" the problem for about two months...now the problem is back.

I ran memtest, prime95, the Fujitsu hard drive tool (forget the name), and SpinRite. Everything checked out fine independently. (I ran memtest specifically for many hours)

Is the laptop just getting old? With the high level of integration in a laptop, my gut tells me that something is physically wrong with the board or chassis, and it will continue to worsen until it fails completely.

However, I'm willing to hear any troubleshooting tips you may have for laptops that start behaving poorly. I have no spare laptop parts.

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Does it run OK in Safe mode? –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jan 20 '10 at 17:32
    
Hard to say. Can't do much in Safe Mode. The problem isn't consistent, unfortunately...it comes and goes. –  boden Jan 20 '10 at 17:58
    
@boden: What happened in the end? Find anything? –  ssvarc Mar 14 '10 at 3:30

4 Answers 4

Check the internal temps with a program like CPUID's Hardware Monitor or SpeedFan. Laptops are notorious for poor thermal design. You may need to open it up, clean or replace the fan(s) and air channels, and apply fresh thermal paste between the CPU and whatever passes for its heat sink.

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Good idea, I'll try that. –  boden Jan 20 '10 at 17:59

The first thing I do is get rid of all of the accumulated garbage that windows always leaves around. First I use Crap Cleaner http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner. Then I start looking into what's causing the slowdown by using Process Explorer http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx. On older systems I go to Defraggler, but it sounds like your installation is new.

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If reinstalling the OS temporarily fixes the problem, it must logically be a software problem.

I'm leaning toward malware.

There are lots of free virus/spyware/etc. scanners out there. I'd say to download one ON ANOTHER COMPUTER, preferably one that makes a boot disk, and scan your computer. Then download a totally different one and scan again.

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For how long did you run Prime95? I'm trying to narrow down this "slowing" of applications that you speak of.

Use SpeedFan or something similar to see if it's heat related. The symptoms seem to rule that out, but let's do so conclusively.

If its a Dell laptop then go to the driver download webpage and get the diagnostic tool.

EDIT: I had my answer open for a couple of hours before I posted, which then refreshed the page. I see that ~Quack already pointed you in the direction of SpeedFan.

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