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I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a computer with the slows...but

Did a fresh install of Windows 10 on a

  • Dell Precision M6800 (1 TB SSD + 1 TB HD; 24 GB RAM; i7 with (x4) Cores)
  • Used Windows Recovery
  • Keep nothing (wiped out all files on 1 TB SSD)

File Explorer, Browser are super slow

  • 14 sec from clicking on the folder icon on the Taskbar to displaying the window with the File Explorer
  • No software installed other than O/S

Updated all drivers from Dell

  • First updated drivers per Dell advise (via website)
  • Next updated all drivers per Dell Command Update that indicates update all for a fresh install
  • Removed external monitor (in case it was a graphics card issue)
  • Dell automated tests indicate no H/W failures

Checked Task Manager for processes:

  • nothing that I understood as noteworthy
  • no processes consuming massive memory of CPU

Checked Resource Monitor

  • CPU is < 15% utilization
  • Memory is < 20% utilized
  • No significant network traffic

Performed a Clean Boot

Ubuntu 20 LTS works well

Began to use the Windows Startup Settings:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17076/windows-8-startup-settings-safe-mode

  • Low-Resolution video: Did not help, File Explorer still takes 14 sec from click-to-window. Does that mean the graphics card / driver is not the problem?
  • Safe Mode: Works pretty good in this mode. Didn't do thorough testing, but the File manager comes up pretty quickly.
  • Safe Mode with Networking: Works the same as Safe Mode above.

Nothing I'm doing is indicating the root cause. There is no change in behavior regardless of what I've tried.

  • How can a computer be slow if the CPU, memory, network bandwidth, and disk access are not near their maximum?
  • What good is a process monitor like Task Manager or Resource Manager if they are not an indication of the usability of the O/S?
  • What are other tools that can diagnose this problem?
  • To see if it's Windows or slow hardware, try another OS, e.g. Linux, from a live USB drive... no need to install to HDD. – DrMoishe Pippik Aug 26 '20 at 20:29
  • After a fresh install of W10, it will do housekeeping and checking for and downloading updates for a couple of hours, just let it set at the desktop for 2 hours so it can finish, then check performance. – Moab Aug 26 '20 at 20:34
  • A fresh install of V1909 (18363) with updated Dell Drivers should be fast on that machine. Get the Dell Hardware test app and test all your hardware, especially memory and SSD drive – John Aug 26 '20 at 20:35
  • I have Ubuntu on a USB drive, so I'll try that - Thanks Pippik I let it sit over night, so I have already tried Moab's suggestion. I've also checked for Windows updates and there are no more available for me. I got the Dell Hardware test app (see above) and tested all H/W. All passes (inc. RAM + SSD) - John. – user3533030 Aug 26 '20 at 20:44
  • Just ran Ubuntu 20 LTS off of USB drive. Works really sharp (quickly). Seems like a Windows problem. – user3533030 Aug 26 '20 at 21:54
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Let's find the problem using Task Manager.

Go into task manager and check disk usage, something might be using your SSD or HDD, like a windows update that checks your windows installation and figures out what it needs to download later.

This disk usage statistic is written in MB/s and it may be hidden so you need to enable the "Disk" column in the "Process" tab in Task Manager.

To reveal the "Disk" column, within the "Process" tab, right click any top column heading like "CPU" or "Memory" and a context menu will pop up showing more data columns. Click "Disk" to reveal disk usage.

  • Disk usage for the highest usage process is < 3 MB/s. Doesn't seem very taxing. – user3533030 Aug 26 '20 at 22:23
  • If you have 1 file that is 3 MB, you are right, that is not taxing. If you have 3000 files that are 1 kilobyte each then that is very taxing. Windows likes to do the taxing operation when it is searching, indexing, scanning for viruses, or preparing to update. The problem is worse if the computer is using a traditional spinning hard disk that handles 200-300 operations/files a second wheras an SSD could handle 40k-230K per second. The activity is what determines if it is taxing, not the megabytes so be very wary. – zwei7 Aug 27 '20 at 2:10
  • There is no indication with any figure of merit (CPU / Memory / Disk / GPU) that indicates that the system resources are being consumed higher than 15%. I don't understand how the system can be slow if the resources are consumed at less than 15%. Clearly there is a missing figure of merit or process that is not being included in evaluating with the Task Manager or Resource Monitor. How can I diagnose this problem? – user3533030 Sep 1 '20 at 22:45
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Perhaps the Dell drivers are causing the problem. Try using the computer without any Dell drivers and use the default Windows 10 drivers. If you must install Dell drivers only install the bare minimum, like the trackpad and wifi. Avoid any display drivers.

Another test you can do is open an explorer window and drag it randomly across your desktop in a shaking motion while looking at your CPU percentage. If it spikes up when you do this then you are using software rendering from your CPU instead of hardware rendering from your videocard (or integrated video). In this case the display driver is the issue so get the AMD FirePro M6100 Mobility Pro GPU driver directly from AMD's website. No fooling around with the Dell.

If that doesn't help, what data mode is your HDD using? Is it IDE or AHCI or RAID in the Bios? Switch it to AHCI for the SSD.

If the HDD and SSD are the issue, try installing Windows on the HDD and then see if it is faster, then switch to the SSD if there is a difference to test if your hard drives are creating a data bottleneck. Maybe one is faulty.

  • Jiggled open windows while monitoring in the Task Manager: CPU, Disk, Network, and GPU are all < 10%. Memory is at 24%. The next Windows update is taking +6 hrs. How can it take so long without consuming any resources? @zwei7 – user3533030 Aug 27 '20 at 4:11
  • If you are installing Windows 10 from a very old build (let's say a disk from 5 years ago), I sometimes wait a whole day to let it download, install, and update itself. The process takes longer if there is faulty hardware. Plus the many restarts it needs to do. Your update might also take longer if your laptop is old and needs to download more legacy drivers not included in the Windows 10 disk/usb/image. Perhaps reset your bios to make sure no odd slow settings are setting you back. – zwei7 Aug 27 '20 at 15:33
  • I've done this before on other machines with much better success. The root cause for me to Restore was b/c the machine was getting slow. I uninstalled many applications and it was still slow, so I used Windows Restore to start over again with Windows 10. On an MSI, it all went smoothly and quickly. This time, with this H/W, it has been miserable. I cannot get to an install of Win-10 that is as responsive as it should be (when it was originally installed years ago). The latest update took 20 hrs to install, reboot, and finalize. This is not as expected. – user3533030 Aug 27 '20 at 17:25
  • I don't trust Windows Restore since it doesn't restore everthing in the C: drive exactly to how it was. I suggest you use free disk imaging programs like Acronis True Image or AOMEI Backupper. If you want to pay I use Paragon Hard Disk Manager. These Programs make a backup image of a fresh Windows install, and restore back to that perfect hdd snapshot of Windows. I've had great luck with those programs and never bothered with restore points. – zwei7 Aug 28 '20 at 19:16
  • Understood. For clarity, is Windows Restore a Restore Point? I didn't use that technology. The Windows Restore I used wiped the drive clean and re-installed. – user3533030 Aug 28 '20 at 19:42

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