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computer suddenly REALLY slow

Posted by: Lucy F.      7 Jun 2009 @ 18:10
computer suddenly REALLY slow

I was trying to help a friend to install a new wireless router/modem, which didn't work, due to a hardware problem. We, therefore, wanted to take the computer back to how it was before we started this morning. Disaster the whole system now goes so slowly that it takes several minutes to respond to a single mouse click - even the time in the bottom corner only updates every 4-5 minutes. How can we just take it back to where we started??

Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      7 Jun 2009 @ 19:01
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

What I would do in your situation is to turn off the computer then restart it in Safe Mode. To do this press the F8 key as the computer is starting up. This should give you a list of options from which you choose Safe Mode. Hopefully the computer will respond normally in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode run System Restore. This may be an option when Safe Mode starts (XP) or if not Start- Accessories-System Tools-System Restore.

When System Restore starts, select a recent restore point from before your troubles started. Hopefully this will restore your settings and the computer to the way it was before. Sometimes System Restore fails and very occassionally it succeeds but does not rectify the problem. Post again in either case but hopefully my advice will provide a cure.

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Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      7 Jun 2009 @ 19:17
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

"due to a hardware problem"
can you explain just what the hardware problem was? and how you decided it was a hardware problem?
what router was it? were you trying to connect wirelessly - if using which wireless adaptor?
did you install any software?

In the main, a machine suddenly running very slowly does so for one of these reasons:
failing hard drive
incorrect CPU or memory speed settings in BIOS
too much software loading at startup
viral or malware infection

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Reply by: Lucy F.      7 Jun 2009 @ 19:18
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Thanks for this. I'll pop around and try that tomorrow and will let you know. Fingers crossed.

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Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      7 Jun 2009 @ 23:09
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

What Jon says is absolutely correct BUT you can sometimes get a computer to behave very badly indeed by installing software that was meant for other hardware or a different version of Windows. Trying a System Restore should not do any harm and if the problem really is down to something you did wrong then it should provide a cure. If not then we can explore other possibilities.

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Reply by: Lucy F.      8 Jun 2009 @ 22:43
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Alan B. Thank you so much. I did the system restore and it is now working as before. To explain what happened before - she was having problems with her old Talk Talk wireless router/USB adapter and it was hit and miss as to whether she got a signal. She decided to buy a new router, so went for the Linksys Cisco WAG160N, which had good reviews. While setting it up, it seemed to hang the computer and we never managed to get it working as wireless, even with the help of a Linksys advisor, who eventually said it must be a 'hardware problem' with the computer. All I can think of is that the computer was too old and didn't have high enough specs to cope with it. It doesn't really matter now as she has decided to cope with the temperamental modem for a couple of months and then upgrade to a decent laptop, with built in wi-fi - hopefully the new router can then be used with that.

So thanks again for your assistance - at least her desktop is working again (and I don't feel so bad for having killed it with my 'helpfulness')

Best wishes

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Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      8 Jun 2009 @ 23:11
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Thank you, Lucy. It's always nice to hear back when you give some advice that proves to be successful.

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Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      8 Jun 2009 @ 23:20
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

I can't comment on why it was hanging while connecting with a cable, but the inability to connect wirelessly sounds like another example of G vs N incompatibility

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Reply by: Lucy F.      8 Jun 2009 @ 23:29
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Jon S. I'm interested in your comment. We were able to connect when wired but not wireless. The print on the router box said that an N adaptor was advised for optimal performance but did not say it was necessary. Does that mean that the same problem might arise if she buys a laptop with G? Perhaps she should take the router back to the shop (though they probably won't accept it as it has been out of the box). Pity the router reviews didn't mention compatability as an issue

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Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      9 Jun 2009 @ 00:15
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

its hard to answer that, but all the limited number of N routers I've had to set up have been real PITAs when used with G wireless adaptors. I've only got them to work by downgrading them to work only on G, and in a recent thread another PCIQ member experienced the same.
I think part of the problem is N needs twice the bandwidth an so uses two channels to transmit (out of the available 13) so increasing the probability of network clashes
Its early days yet to be sure about this, but some of the PC magazines have carried stories suggesting that N is not going to be all its cracked up to be, mainly due to the bandwidth problem

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Reply by: Darren F. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Ludlow, SY8      9 Jun 2009 @ 08:46
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

If the computer is not compatible with the usb adaptor have you thought of trying an ethernet to wireless adaptor. I have one of these for my xbox 360 and it works perfectly, very rarely disconnects.

Also one other important thing, if the problem is that your usb dongle keeps disconnecting from the existing router ensure that both antennas are pointing the same way, either vertical or horizontal.

It is strange but horizontal and vertical positions on an antenna make a huge difference, if you have one antenna pointing upwards (vertical) and one lying flat (horizontal) you will get a lot of disconnections. I did the amateur radio course and polarisation was covered on this, I don't think many people realise the serious effect though that polarisation can have on wireless networks. If your router has two antennas try turning one so it's flat and the other one upright and that should improve connectivity, if it's only got one antenna turn it round until the wi-fi signal strength increases on the computer.

The best thing to try is to turn fully to vertical polarisation (if possible), which should give the best signal over all as most TV signals use horizontal and it will stop these from interfering with your wi-fi.

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Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      9 Jun 2009 @ 19:52
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Nice theory Darren, however if you look at the pictures of that router on the web it looks like there are no external antennae
Its probably using some kind of internal steerable array.
I still think the best option is going to be to disable the -N

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Reply by: Lucy F.      9 Jun 2009 @ 22:10
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Jon S. - 2 silly questions - 1. how does one disable the -N? and 2. would it be better to simply have a router which doesn't have this option (i.e. stick to a wireless-G router) ?

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Reply by: Alan D. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Oakham, LE15      9 Jun 2009 @ 22:23
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

On most routers, including the N ones that I have seen, in the wireless config there is an option to select which standards you support. Sometimes it will say B/G/N, sometimes it will be expressed as a speed, e.g. 11/54/270mbps. I have even seen N described as Turbo mode.

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Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      9 Jun 2009 @ 23:36
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

Lucy, I think the guys may be getting a bit ahead of themselves. Your friend used to use a wireless router supplied by TalkTalk in conjunction with a USB wireless adaptor but this was unreliable. She bought a new Linksys/Cisco router. Did this come with a new wireless adaptor or was she still using the old one? If the old router was the problem then it should be perfectly possible to use the old USB wireless adaptor with the new router (which would also force the router to avoid the wireless-N mode that Jon is suspicious of). However if you try this and still have reliability problems then that would point the finger of blame at the USB wireless adaptor.

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Reply by: Jon S. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Morecambe, LA3      10 Jun 2009 @ 00:16
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

I've never used this specific router, so the best I can suggest is to download and read the manual, which is available from http://www.linksysbycisco.com/UK/en/support/WAG160N/download
Note theres version 1 and version 2 - make sure you get the right one. Also note there is a firmware update for version 1 which MAY solve some issues.

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Reply by: Lucy F.      10 Jun 2009 @ 18:10
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

It was definitely the router which was the problem in the past, rather than USB adaptor. I have since read a whole string of reviews about the Linksys router on Amazon and it seems that some people rave about it and others are sending them back, saying that they don't work - looks like it is perhaps a dodgy model (or there is a dodgy batch out there).

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Reply by: Alan B. PCIQ IT ProfessionalIT Professional in Cambridge, CB22      10 Jun 2009 @ 19:33
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

A client of mine had a similar looking Linksys router (I don't know if it was exactly the same model). It started to suffer fits of amnesia, by which I mean every so often it would spontaneously revert to factory settings with no memory of the login details for internet access. So it had to be replaced even though it was less than a year old.

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Reply by: Lucy F.      10 Jun 2009 @ 22:09
RE: computer suddenly REALLY slow

I think there is enough evidence to justify returning this router. Thanks for all of your input - it has been extremely helpful.

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