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My wife has started to find her Windows 7 machine is running very slow for web browsing. This seems to have come on over the last few weeks, previously there wasn't a problem.

It doesn't seem to be any different using Opera or Firefox, Chrome just crashes the moment she tries to run it.

As far as we know the drivers for the machine are up to date.

When we ran Ubuntu off a boot CD it was lightning fast so the network and hardware seem to be fine, it just seems like there's something going on in Windows that is getting in the way.

Changing Antivirus ( AVG ) and security settings doesn't seem to make a big difference. Process Explorer doesn't show anything untoward going on in terms of resource usage.

I'm almost out of tricks- what should we be testing or exploring next to close in on the problem? Chrome seems more vulnerable to problems with networking so I'm wondering if somethign could be up with drivers, but windows thinks they are up to date.

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What do you mean by slow browsing?

I experienced very slow website display and the browser lagged when scrolling.

This was due to graphics drivers. I was surprised since I had the right (and correct) drivers. Once I uninstalled the drivers and reinstalled the latest from my vendors web page, everything went back to normal.

I assume some of the updates might have corrupted the drivers.

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  • That is very interesting- pages are slow to load and slow to display. Hadn't thought of graphics drivers being a possible candidate at all. – glenatron Jul 21 '10 at 10:33
  • It took me a while to figure out what was the problem. The only reason I tried the solution was my experience with Linux where there were problems with 2D acceleration. – GoldenThunder Jul 21 '10 at 14:17
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The problem gradually escalated and after it started crashing out as quickly running chkdiskas it did while browsing or performing any other tasks - so we hit the point where after about five minutes of any activity the computer would stall - I finally realised that this was an overheating problem. After taking a few bits and bobs out and blowing some compressed air through the ventilation system and fan - all to no avail - I gave up and left the computer for dead...

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I have an old Dell tower that was similarly affected. Blew out the dust from everywhere. No difference.

Popped out the CPU and the Southbridge (other big chip in a socket) and restored the white thermal compound (heatsink "grease"), then put everything back. It runs fine now. Thermal compound is available at electronic parts stores like the remaining Radio Shack stores, at computer centers like Microcenter, at computer swaps and at ham radio swaps.

The two chips are under heatsinks that have separate hardware to hold them in place. On my Dell the CPU had two green plastic wedge-type-things that were difficult to remove until I studied them carefully and figured it out. After the heatsinks are off, the chips are in ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) sockets, that have a lever to release the tension that holds the chip in place.

Note that the chips have indexes on them. Depending on the chip, it is either a corner that has an angle cut in it with a corresponding corner on the socket, or the pins on the bottom have one pin missing that corresponds to a blank area on the socket where a pin won't go in. If you pull the chips without looking them over carefully, it's not too difficult to put them back in the right way by studying them and their sockets when they're out.

If you plan to dispose of the machine anyway, it's a great opportunity to grab a bit of IT skill even in the unlikely prospect that the project goes awry.

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