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# 15394 20-Aug-2007 21:14
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My laptop (2.6GHz Celeron, 1Gb RAM, 80Gb HD, Windows XP Home SP2, 56k dial-up modem) has been slowing down badly over recent months, particularly when online, and I've mostly attributed it to Norton's heavy use of system resources (Internet Security 2006, and kept up-to-date) or to incoming updates for Norton or Windows, but I have noticed on occasions that svchost.exe has been using a lot of CPU.

This may be unrelated, but in recent times, I've had very frequent disconnections while online for browsing, downloads or e-mail, and lately, initial connection to the ISP server has become unreliable, often requiring several attempts. My ISP says it's not a problem at their end. There is nothing in my dialler / internet / mail settings that appears incorrect or has changed. I deleted the internet connection and created a new one, and re-entered my internet account password everywhere it's required, just in case, but nothing changed.

Now however, things have gone drastically amiss, CPU usage is up to 97%-100% much of the time with no good reason, programs are naturally incredibly slow to start or operate, and the System Processes list shows that Winlogon.exe and/or Explorer.exe are hogging the CPU resources.

Norton can't find a virus, even using Symantec's over-the-web scan, and Ad-Aware and Spybot S&D detect no spyware or trojans etc. I've run Norton Utilities WinDoctor and PCTools Registry Mechanic 5 which both found problems and fixed them, which improved matters a bit but the computer is still inclined to suddenly go into 100% CPU usage and become almost unusable.

I've 'Googled' for solutions to similar CPU-hogging problems but haven't been able to decide whether what's wrong with my machine is exactly the same as the problems described by others.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks !

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  # 83053 20-Aug-2007 21:20
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Have you tried to reinstall / reformat Windows and see whether it improves the performance? There must be something running in the background or Windows needs a reformat.

I wonder if it could be due to IE7.  I remember installing IE7 on a laptop before and as soon as that was installed everything slowed to a crawl, even on a freshly installed XP.  I reformatted XP again and installed IE7 one more time.  This time, it worked.  Good old Microsoft.

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  # 83054 20-Aug-2007 21:21
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About once a month or maybe even a little more often, I am asked to 'fix up' a friends or family members PC or laptop. 4 out of 5 times, ditching every Norton security product (and replacing with decent free equivilents e.g. Avast Antivirus) makes the unit run SOOOO much better.

Norton must die on the consumer desktop!!


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  # 83056 20-Aug-2007 21:24
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tonyhughes: About once a month or maybe even a little more often, I am asked to 'fix up' a friends or family members PC or laptop. 4 out of 5 times, ditching every Norton security product (and replacing with decent free equivilents e.g. Avast Antivirus) makes the unit run SOOOO much better.

Norton must die on the consumer desktop!!

I totally agree.  I used to have McAfee and it worked so efficiently.  Norton is a system-hogger!

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  # 83073 21-Aug-2007 00:11
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Thanks for your replies, guys.

I haven't yet tried any re-install of Windows as I don't have the XP Installation disc - the computer was given to me by a relative who no longer wanted it, but the system had been installed by the supplier and an XP disc wasn't provided. 

I was hoping to avoid reformatting and/or re-installing XP because, presumably, the very large number of installed Windows updates will have to be re-installed, and on 56k dial-up they take forever to download. Also, in the past, I've run into major problems when older versions of Outlook Express and Internet Explorer have re-installed from the OS Installation CD and overwritten the newer updates, then Outlook Express never works again because of the 'Can't load MSOE.DLL' error, and re-installing the updates doesn't cure that. (Although that was on a different computer and running Windows 2000 Pro)

I guess I'll just have to buy the XP Home disc if I can still get it.

Yep, I think the time has come for Norton to go and something less system-hungry (but hopefully reliable) to take its place.
I am finding that, despite having 1Gb of RAM, the available memory (once the system is up and running and with only start-up apps - Norton etc. - running) is down to about 600Mb or sometimes less.

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  # 83096 21-Aug-2007 10:40
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You could also try disabling the Windows Update service. I've seen occasions where the WU slows a PC down to a crawl (and not just when it is downloading updates).

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  # 83228 21-Aug-2007 21:02
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Use Norton 360...its a hell of a lot quicker compared to Norton 2007...though i personally use Nod32

Do whatever you want to do man.


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  # 83268 22-Aug-2007 07:53
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slipmat: You could also try disabling the Windows Update service. I've seen occasions where the WU slows a PC down to a crawl (and not just when it is downloading updates).

Microsoft have addressed that issue with MSI fix KB927891
It resolves an issue where svchost.exe reached 100% for long periods while it performed a Windows Update/Microsoft Update check.

@ grafyx
Check in the Add/Remove Programs to see if you have the KB927891 patch installed on your XP computer.
I would also suggest a 'manual' visit to the Windows Update site.


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  # 83427 23-Aug-2007 00:45
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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I've checked that the KB927891 patch is present and it was installed on 24 May 07. I do find 'manual visits to Microsoft Updates confusing. I can always find the documentation for such fixes but when I try todownloadthe relevant fix, I get shoved into a scan ofmy system to see in what manner my system can receive updates, but after it says all is OK, it won't let me select what I want without going throug the whole process again. And it just goes round in circles like that !

Is there a consensus that if it comes to the worst, it might be better to format the drive and re-install everything clean, since I believe its pretty difficult to eradicate the whole of Nortons ccApp file, which is, I think, rootkit installed ?

One other symptom I forgot to mention in relation to the frequent disconnections problem is that, when Im online browsing or downloading / uploading files or e-mail, if I watch the connection Status Monitor (reached by double-clicking the monitors icon in the bottom bar) there are frequent periods where both monitor icons grey out for thirty or more seconds, which I assume means traffic in and out has temporarily ceased. This happens while pages are partly loaded in IE, or while files or e-mail are actually incoming or outgoing. Those greyed-out periods are the times during which disconnection generally occurs, but oddly, a lot of the time it seems to me I can cause the connection to remain in place through those times if I keep clicking on the monitor icons in the bottom bar or in the Status Monitor. I cant think of any reason why this should make the slightest difference, but it does seem to reduce the likelihood of a disconnection. All of which makes me think something is interrupting the data flow and the software just assumes that the connection has dropped , on some sort of timeout.

It even affects Nortons Live Update downloads, though the connection does seem a little more stable during those times. I can usually improve my chances of getting the updates uninterrupted by choosing to download them in relatively small bundles, but when theres a major update of several megabytes, I get a bit nervous.

There are no problems that I can see with any software settings as far as timeouts / idle times or Disconnect after so many minutes of inactivity, so does anyone have any idea what might cause these symptoms ? As mentioned previously, there are no indications from Norton, Ad-Aware or Spybot S&D of the presence of viruses, Trojans or spyware.

I really want to upgrade to broadband now, but Im reluctant to do that before I get this rather basic difficulty sorted out, as I think changing to broadband would just add another variable to the puzzle.

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  # 83793 25-Aug-2007 18:10
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If you elect to remove Norton, download the removal tool first.
(c&p into your browser)
Download the program file for the AV of your choice...all will take a while on dial up, the three most popular and trouble free ones are
Save the file to a folder or desktop.
Disconnect from the web. Uninstall Norton from the control panel, restart if asked. Run the removal tool. Restart.
Install the new AV. Reconnect. Update. Should be good.

Sorry for the non-working links (or that's how they display here) the "insert link" button doesn't work.)

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  # 85943 9-Sep-2007 10:49
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I haven’t been able to try many of the above suggestions yet as the laptop has been playing up so much, and only running normally on occasions.

But there have been a few developments, and I wondered if anyone recognises any of these symptoms.

The CPU hogging seems now to be mainly associated with Windows Explorer. It only happens from time to time and is usually, but not always, fixed by a reboot.

Dialling-up is often disrupted by confused modem tones - they are broken up or even in the wrong order on occasions - you know how you get used to the sound sequence ? Sometimes, the modem tones get as far as the ‘handshaking’ bit and then begin all over again, over and over.

On one or two occasions, inexplicably, the tone dialling sequence has only reached the second tone of an 11 tone dial-up number before the telephone exchange comes back with a recorded message saying the number dialled has not been recognised. The tones are not unusually far apart, which you’d think might be the only thing that might cause such an error message. Unless the tones themselves are somehow malformed.

Audio is now intermittent, and when it goes wrong, no sound is available in any program. During these times, the modem tones can no longer be heard during dialling, yet they can be heard on the line if I pick up a phone using the same line (which of course I wouldn’t normally do!)

Weirder still, on two occasions, the machine’s Windows sounds (and dialler sounds) have become speeded up - not raised in pitch, just played out at a faster tempo - possibly as fast as 2-3 times normal speed.

I occasionally get error messages about a motherboard or modem fault, but the system’s Device Manager shows no conflicts (hardware or software) and all parts of the hardware are shown as working correctly.

Norton Utilities WinDoctor and PCTools Registry Mechanic don’t discover any significant registry problems and fixing the odd one doesn’t help with the problems.

I would like, ideally, to format and re-install the system, but I don’t have the original Packard Bell CD which presumably has the relevant drivers on, and which would also allow me to use Packard Bell‘s own Restore system from the dedicated partition on the hard disk. The modem driver is obviously important to have, as it may well have become corrupted, but its manufacturer SmartLink is no longer dealing with its legacy products.

I'm using the modem software's 'Safe mode' dialling facility to improve connection reliability at the moment, but it doesn't always work.

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# 85945 9-Sep-2007 10:58
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Do you have large files on your desktop? Try to keep it at a minimum size, moving icons to folders on the desktop and moving files to somewhere else.

I've seen a case where a friend had a large file on the desktop so he could find it quickly but explorer.exe would just slow down and use 100% CPU. After moving the file to a folder on his My Documents then problem went away.

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  # 85946 9-Sep-2007 11:12
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Thanks, I'll try that right now - I do have a couple of folders on the desktop that have a lot of stuff in.

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