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CPU maxing out; streaming & HD video problems; BSOD errors


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#16
happyrock

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yep...uninstall Comodo firewall...turn on windows firewall...
go here and test both flash player and shockwave...update if necessary
also launch the task manager and click on the processes tab...minimize it then try a streaming video on nbc.com
if it starts stuttering ...bring up the taskmanager and get a screenshot...we want to see what is using all the resources...
nojoy
go here and test your speeds...if your connected thru a router do one test thru the router the second test plug directly into the modem and go to the same server you used for the router...pick one across the country from you...
you can also try booting into safe mode with networking and try steaming video at nbc.com...if that works like it supposed to then its probably a driver causing the problem

I'm really bummed to be such a drag,

your not a drag so don't worry about it :)

Edited by happyrock, 29 May 2010 - 09:10 AM.

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#17
crdenny

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Okay, I did everything you suggested...

With COMODO uninstalled and Windows Firewall on, I noticed a clear increase in overall speed of every operation on the laptop. If I didn't think COMODO was safer in that it monitors outgoing as well as incoming traffic, I would leave it this way permanently! On nbc.com, video was clearly faster and performing better for 20-30 seconds or so, jerky but almost watchable; but then it slowed down, became increasingly choppy and "slideshow-like", and by 55 seconds was totally out of sync and unwatchable again. CPU was always stuck at 100%.

I have attached several screenshots of the Task Manager, using each browser - this is to show the variation I always observe, where Firefox (or Chrome, or IE) is always the principal drain on resources (just as iTunes was when I used to try to play iTunes video, offline) anywhere from the 90's down to the 70's; but every few seconds, it will rapidly bounce from 92% to 76% to 90% to 65% to 85%, etc., where "System" (only slightly abetted by the AV - often good for a couple percent - and other processes which normally grab 2-5% or less) ALWAYS picks up the full remaining amount, up to 25% or so once in awhile, with the result that the total CPU never, ever varies from 100%. You'll see what I mean...

I checked and, where needed, updated Flash and Shockwave on all three browsers without noticeable impact on streaming video. I'm using a wired connection plugged into a router (another person's using wireless), and speed may have been slightly higher when I connected directly to the modem, but not enough to change anything. Upload speeds were always a little under 500 kbps (which is close to the correct specs for my Time Warner Cable here in NYC), while download speeds varied enormously, from a high of 8300 kbps or so (using the Los Angeles server) to 3335 (using San Fran). Using the server right here in NYC, I only got a download speed of 3905 kbps, while using Washington, D.C.'s I got 8227 kbps. What in the world can I make of that?! Time Warner claims, according to the plan's specs, that I should get a 10 mbps download speed.

NOW, cutting to the chase: In Safe Mode With Networking, streaming nbc.com video was, dare I say, FINE - dramatically improved, a hair choppier than ideal, perhaps, but nothing compared to the choppiness I've been seeing otherwise, and perfectly watchable - when I was using Firefox and IE! (Using Chrome, it was less good, but maybe that page is not optimized for Chrome. I noticed that Adobe offered versions of Flash specifically tagged for IE, Firefox and Opera, but not Chrome.) By the way, in Safe Mode, the sound card was obviously disabled, so I couldn't check sync, only visual fluidity. But as far as I could tell, being in Safe Mode solved the issue of streaming video. So I guess it IS a driver!

However, this was another big surprise: in Safe Mode, the CPU was STILL at 100%, and yet the video was largely (again, with a few flaws) okay. Firefox, or whatever, now sat at 98%, and Task Manager or Avast sat at 1-2%, period. "System" sat at zero, and nothing else on the list took even a percent. So the 100% CPU load can't be causing the video problem, but must itself be either a product of some conflict or an unrelated issue. (Which is probably slightly degrading performance, but that difference must be insignificant compared to whatever's causing the playback failure. Still, CPU shouldn't always be maxed out, even when video is streaming pretty normally, should it?)

By the way, the first thing I checked after rebooting normally was the sound card - I disabled the SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio driver in the Device Manager - but that didn't produce any positive change. I do have and use Uniblue's Driver Scanner 2009, also by the way, and all the drivers it can account for are currently up-to-date.

I hadn't thought of trying Safe Mode with Networking because I had tried playing iTunes video (and other offline HD video on GOM Player) in normal Safe Mode, at the previous tech's suggestion, with no success. Maybe those particular programs/video players simply don't function in Safe Mode under any circumstances... I'm just praying that, when I reinstall iTunes (once this streaming video problem is fully licked), the fix for streaming video also miraculously fixes iTunes video playback. I'll be an optimist until forced to be otherwise...

That's all I've got for now. Looking forward to your response and, hopefully, to finally making some headway!!

Thanks so much, and have a great Memorial Day.

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#18
happyrock

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did you use Uniblue's registry cleaner at some point...

at this point I am leaning towards a malware infection

Edited by happyrock, 31 May 2010 - 06:09 AM.

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#19
crdenny

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Hi again,

Yes, I've used Uniblue's RegistryBooster 2009 many times. It usually fixes 20-40 items, generally values associated with some file or program which has been moved or removed.

Just FYI, I just ran Housecall online scan 2-3 days ago - clean. I always suspected malware at the root of this, but mpascal had me run a full set of diagnostic tools and we couldn't find anything. That thread, if you want to take a look, is here:

http://www.geekstogo...on-t275017.html

But I can quickly summarize that thread to save you the time of reading it. Here are the highlights:

4/25 - running McAfee AV at the time - ran MBAM scan, OTL scan, GMER scan; then OTL fix, new MBAM scan, Kaspersky online scan - all clean.
4/28 - ComboFix scan, ComboFix repair - found & replaced one "infected" system file.
4/29 - SuperAntiSpyware - found & quarantined 367 tracking cookies. (Surprised me because MBAM & McAfee are supposed to have found those too and hadn't found anything in repeated scans.)
4/30 - OTL scan, OTL fix.
4/30 - completely uninstalled McAfee AV & Firewall - using automated and manual procedures, to be sure it was ALL gone - as well as remaining Panda and Housecall files from previous online scans, for good measure. Turned on Windows FW when online.
5/2 - ran Uniblue's DriverScanner 2009, RegistryBooster 2009 (updated ALi M5229 PCI Bus Master IDE Controller driver successfully) and SpeedUpMyPC 2009; re-ran Uniblue scanners - all clean; ran XP's system file checker, full CHKDSK (command line w/ fix) - all clean. Installed COMODO firewall & avast! - AV scan was clean. mpascal closed the thread and referred me to you.

I have to say that, aside from the CPU problems and video-playing problems, my laptop is running better than it has in ages, in that I'm experiencing NO crashes (I was dealing with several a day for awhile) - not Firefox, no error messages about missing registry entries that had to be replaced on startup, no BSOD's, all of which I was getting in spades before I started the previous thread. So I'm much better off... but I still just can't solve the underlying problem(s)!

If you can find a way to ferret out a still-hidden piece of especially malicious malware at this point, you're a genius!!! I really hope and pray you can...

Thanks for all your help.
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#20
happyrock

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registry cleaners are notorious for doing more harm than good

so lets try to repair xp...

for the how to repair your operating system guides...
go here...

if you don't have a xp cd you will have to borrow one from a friend or coworker...
it has to be the same flavor of xp you have installed...IE: if you have xp pro...the one you borrow has to be xp pro
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#21
crdenny

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What I have are the three Recovery DVD's I was prompted to burn when I first bought and booted up this SONY VAIO laptop years ago. My understanding was that they were for a complete re-formatting of the disk and clean reinstall of the operating system with all the original software. (So I would lose SP3 and all updates/upgrades over the years, etc.?) But, according to the link you gave me, I see that there's probably an option for a more limited "repair installation" of XP Home if this is like other recovery disks. So far, so good...

A couple of years ago, a computer tech friend prevailed on me to upgrade my hard drive, which was originally only 40GB (and had come from the factory partitioned into C: and D: drives), to a 120GB drive because I was running out of disk space needed for defragging, etc. After some work, he was able to clone everything from my original disk onto the new, larger one partitioned into slightly UN-equal C: and D: drives, but with all data seemingly in its proper place on the respective "drives" and enough free space on each to defragment effectively for the first time in ages.

I'm concerned that the original system recovery disks I made when I first got this computer will want to restore the exact configuration I originally had - meaning 20GB C: and D: drives partitioned on a 40GB hard drive - and thus will not function properly with this larger one. I'm worried that it might crash and, worse, seriously corrupt my drive and/or operating system somehow. I imagine that I could explore the disks to find XP files as needed, but I wonder if to allow it to autorun in any way might conceivably be disastrous. Is this a valid concern?? If so, do I need to get a straightforward XP Home CD from someone? (I have no idea who - most people I know who are at all technical have Macs.) Or is it safe enough to pop the disk(s) in, follow the prompts and try it? (*nail-biting*)

Advice, please... :/
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#22
crdenny

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A couple of other thoughts:

I think it was ComboFix which insisted on placing a handy prompt on my screen at bootup offering me the option of going to the Windows XP Recovery Console. Shouldn't that offer a repair install option? (And would it be safe, repairing XP on the C: drive and nothing else?)

Similarly, if for some reason using the SONY "Recovery Kit" CD/DVD's there isn't an way to do a repair install of XP - and, as I keep saying, nothing else! - is there any way to do the repair install either using the VAIO Recovery Wizard (in the Control Panel) or directly using the winnt32.exe file in the Windows\i386 folder? Or is that the same thing that choosing the boot screen Recovery Console prompt would do?

A third possible option I've found is to download "WinAccess Lite" from the manufacturer or cnet - it claims to locate the "exact duplicate" of the Windows CD that it says normally should be on the hard drive if an actual CD wasn't included with the computer. If this truly means a virtual XP CD, that would be exactly what I need, right? (Or is this, again, the same as going to the winnt32.exe file?? Sorry for so many questions...!)

Edited by crdenny, 01 June 2010 - 02:21 AM.

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#23
happyrock

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I'm concerned that the original system recovery disks I made when I first got this computer will want to restore the exact configuration I originally had - meaning 20GB C: and D: drives partitioned on a 40GB hard drive

yep...and with the original amount of ram...so if you added more ram it needs to come out as well...
try the repair installation
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#24
crdenny

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I have a feeling you didn't see my second post from last night, asking questions about doing the repair install. Before jumping into this I'm afraid I do need more information than I got from the link you have me…

Since writing that followup post, I've also read that I may have to uninstall all the SP's to avoid Windows refusing to overwrite a "newer version of Windows"; if so, is there anything else I need to be prepared to do/uninstall/etc. in order to avoid error messages? Also, if I use someone else's CD (if I can find one) it sounds like I need to find an identifying "key"in my own system, which authorizes the install? So if there's any way to do the repair using files already on my hard drive, that would seem to be much better.

Can you give me a little more detailed info regarding how to proceed and what to expect?
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#25
happyrock

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it sounds like I need to find an identifying "key"in my own system, which authorizes the install

it should be on a sticker attached to the computer...

And would it be safe, repairing XP on the C: drive and nothing else

yes...you only have 1 OS installed correct...that's what we will try and repair

Can you give me a little more detailed info regarding how to proceed and what to expect?

the link I gave you explains everything in detail with screenshots of the repair procedure
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#26
crdenny

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Hi,

After my very long silence, I want to update you on what I've been working on and see if you have any quick advice:

I've been anything but idle on the subject of doing the repair install of XP. To make a long story as short as possible (but not short at all - sorry), I was unable to find a single acquaintance who still has a commercial XP Home CD - most have Macs, for some reason, a few have Vista, and a couple have XP but, like me, no actual CD - so I investigated how to create my own OEM version from my Windows\i386 file. (Which - according to the results of scanning with WinACCESS Lite, and contrary to some writers' expectations - did check out as containing all needed components for the full CD except the boot sector file, which is downloadable online. This was SONY's cheap answer to providing a fifty-cent CD, apparently.) Before anything else, I clicked on the Windows\i386\winnt32.exe file just to be sure it would correctly initiate an install on my system; lucky I did, because it said, "Setup has detected a newer version of Windows XP Home Edition already installed on this system. Setup cannot continue." (I assume this is because I've updated over time to SP2 and then SP3, whereas my computer came with XP Home SP1 installed; and I've also installed dozens of Windows Updates over the years.) So I investigated more and learned about slipstreaming: I successfully created an XP Home install CD slipstreaming SP3 (using just the "integrate" command prompt), which seemed doubly useful after reading strong cautions everywhere against going online after the repair even just to re-authorize Windows unless SP3 was already installed. (Various nasty Sasser and Blaster worms, it looked like, exploiting XP vulnerabilities?) I created several practice install CD's with everything from just SP3 slipstreamed in to one adding IE7 (I can't use IE8 due to a software conflict), WMP11 and all post-SP3 Windows Updates through May 2010 (using either nLite or RyanVM Integrator); I learned about and installed Virtual PC 2007 (with a security update, SP1, and another patch providing support for XP Home) so I could test everything before running it for real - a very arcane flaw in the Virtual PC SP1 update led to much wasted time re-doing the CD's because they all seemed to be installing a corrupted VPC network adapter, but it turned out to all be due to a bug in the VPC service pack, one flawed registry entry which I fixed manually in regedit; I read about, then installed and ran a demo version of Disk Snapshot to save ISO's of my C & D drives on an external drive; and I learned how to make a BartPE-XPE rescue CD (XPE being an extremely cool add-on that I randomly lucked into finding, which gives you the full XP GUI, explorer, etc.) which would allow me to fully restore my hard drives even if XP were irreparably corrupted by a bad repair attempt.

(What can I say? Having had an operating system completely, hopelessly corrupted once before, and knowing how much I don't know, I'm now a careful and very thorough person about these things!)

After all that, I ran both straight installs and repair installs of XP on Virtual PC with reproducibly perfect results, even validating Windows once to be sure I had the right Product Key. I last tested the most complete CD, one with a few choice nLite XP tweaks, plus IE7, WMP11 and almost all recent Windows Updates included, and it performed a repair install perfectly on Virtual PC.

So, at long last, I finally ran the actual repair install on my laptop last night and... complete, catastrophic failure! The procedure seemed to go exactly as it should, start to finish without a hitch, right down to the final re-boot after telling me the installation was successful; then, once the XP splash screen appeared, I got a BSOD for a millisecond (too fast to read the error message) followed by black and a total crash. It tried to re-boot into safe mode but produced the same blue screen and crash on that attempt as well. Two or three more tries proved that XP was hopelessly corrupted. I then very nervously ran the one procedure I had not been able to test ahead of time, using BartPE-XPE and Disk Snapshot to restore my system drive... and, thank God, it worked!!! So the good news is that today I'm back up and running (knock on wood) as if nothing had happened. The bad news, of course, is that I've now spent weeks learning a lot but getting exactly nowhere.

Obviously, I could just keep asking people in hopes of finding someone with a stray XP Home installation CD one of these days - I suppose that's probably the safest option. I'm not eager to repeat the repair install using my CD's (unless you advise me to try) because I don't want to chance introducing some random fatal error by repeated assaults on my system. In the meantime, is there any point in my trying to troubleshoot why the install CD's I made worked fine on VPC 2007 but wouldn't work with my actual system? Or, looking at it another way, why they were able to repair XP SP3 as installed by them but not XP SP3 as it's currently installed on my computer?

(I'm really afraid you'll say I should uninstall SP2 & SP3 to return my XP to its original SP1 - along with uninstalling IE7, WMP11 and all 90+ Windows Updates on my system, one by one, and then try the repair again with the most bare-bones CD I can make, just XP Home SP1. Oh, please, no!!)

I'm sure this is a longshot, but if I ran some scan (I don't know which) on my latest successful VPC installation which produced a log of all the drivers and components of XP as installed by the CD I used, would you be able to tell if some Windows drivers or other needed XP components normally found on a commercial CD had been altered by SONY (or whatever) such that they needed to be replaced with generic versions of themselves to be used to repair my current installation?

Or... any other advice???

Thanks. (And thanks for reading all this!)

Edited by crdenny, 18 June 2010 - 10:39 PM.

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#27
happyrock

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first let me say I'm very impressed with what you accomplished... :)
slipsteaming...nlite...VM's...you are well on your way to geekdom... :)

when you say...

I ran both straight installs and repair installs of XP on Virtual PC with reproducibly perfect results, even validating Windows once to be sure I had the right Product Key. I last tested the most complete CD, one with a few choice nLite XP tweaks, plus IE7, WMP11 and almost all recent Windows Updates included, and it performed a repair install perfectly on Virtual PC.

what machine was this done on

the good news now is you know you can get always back to where you are now no matter what you try...

so first thing I would do is run chkdsk /r again to let windows find and fix any bad sectors or clusters or at least mark them as bad so windows does not try to write to them ever again...then run sfc /scannow and if that doesn't get you running normally then try the repair again...
still no joy ...
I would back all my data...wipe the drive and do a complete reinstall...you can buy a restore cd here for $25 to $30 bucks...that would put the system back to like the day it left the factory and that includes all the drivers...you can download and burn both SP2 and SP3 and then before you install any other software...install the service packs
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