General Question

augustlan's avatar

Why does my computer slow down and/or "freeze up" every night?

Asked by augustlan (46523 points ) December 18th, 2009

Every night, like clockwork, my computer gets reeeeeally slow around 3 AM EST. Most times it grinds to a halt, causing me to have to reboot manually (ctrl/alt/delete won’t even work). I’ve checked my anti-virus program, and it’s not scanning at that time. Something is running though… I can hear the computer “thinking”.

What could be causing this problem? What can I do to fix it? If it matters, I have a PC running Windows XP, with Firefox. Please keep in mind that I am a *technotard, so you will need to use small words in order for me to understand you. Thanks!

*Credit for technotard belongs to jmah.

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17 Answers

Sebulba's avatar

i am sure you have heard about RAM memory. it looks like your computer runs out of RAM. you can press ctrl-alt-del and go to the procceses tab and press the CPU or RAM tab and the task manager will sort the prosseces according to the usage they do to your system. there you’ll see who is to blame. also on the “performance” tab you can see real-time the memory usage values. if this didn’t help come back and i’ll give you more advice

Cotton101's avatar

Like Sebulba, use the ctrl-alt-del, but also, you can go internet options and delete files, history, and date. Internet options is found by clicking on the tool bar!

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Delete your cookies.

Cotton101's avatar

Yeah Kelly, occasionally do that, but you have to enter all your email, passwords, etc. So, i delete files, history, etc , that does not work, delete the cookies!

Also, occasionally clean up my hard drive.

UScitizen's avatar

Because I am controlling it, for my devious pleasure…. he he he he…

Buttonstc's avatar

Do you also have something to detect spyware as well as viruses.

Since it happens at the same time each night, it sounds as if it could be some sort of adware or spyware program which is preparing it’s “report” on tracking your activity for the day.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Check your Windows Update settings. It might be doing them at that time.

Get this little utility. It replaces Windows task manager, but gives a lot more detail.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx

arpinum's avatar

Open “Event Viewer” or “Event Log” depending on your windows version and see what, if any, system messages appear which may impact speed around the time you notice the problems. Feel free to post what you find back here. Also check “Scheduler” to see if any tasks are scheduled to run around that time. Again, you can post results back here if you need them translated.

dpworkin's avatar

There is a Microsoft program, a free download, called Process Manager which can be installed in such a way that it can be invoked by the <Ctrl> <Shift> <Esc> key sequence, and it will show you which process is hogging the CPU, and allow you to terminate it.

the100thmonkey's avatar

If you can hear it ‘thinking’, I’d suggest that it’s scanning the hard drive for something.

If you’re running Vista, I’d suggest that it’s the indexing service doing its… erm… indexing. That’s a pretty drive-intensive task, and something for which Vista is quite well-known for doing badly.

Alternatively, if you run Google Desktop, it could be the same thing – it’s indexing at a time when it assumes you won’t be using the computer.

jerv's avatar

Firefox has historically had issues with memory leakage.
Windows has historically had issues with not freeing up RAM after you exit a program.
Combine the two and what you get is a program that will consume more and more memory the longer it runs, and quitting then restarting the program won’t always help.

Indexing and Windows Update are smart enough to stop and release control of the system when you want to do stuff (they generally only run when the PC is idle) so I doubt it’s either of those things.

Buttonstc may be correct about a scheduled anti-spyware sweep, and that is why II do mine manually; Spybot makes my system bog while it’s scanning. However, it doesn’t bog it to the point where a three-finger salute won’t work.

Your best bet is to open up the Task Manager (or Process Explorer; either will work) before it bogs, set the view such that they are sorted my CPU usage, keep an eye on it, and see what is hogging it all when it finally bogs.

@pdworkin I googled Process Manager to see if it was something different than Process Explorer and wound up at the link that @IchtheosaurusRex posted. You are still correct though.

augustlan's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I’ll check on all these things later on tonight and let you know how it goes.

Blondy's avatar

bogged down from heavy usage…..do a disc cleanup and defragmentation and restart….if that doesn’t help…maybe you need more memory?

jerv's avatar

I just had one of my systems bog irrevocably. No hardware failures, no new installs, just plain old bit-rot. Sweeps and defrags did nothing to help. It used to boot in under a minute but leaped to taking a hair over six minutes between pushing the button and even getting a desktop and another two after that before it stopped loading and freed up enough CPU to register mouse-clicks.

Currently, that system is running faster than ever though.

I ditched Windoze and installed Ubuntu :)

Response moderated (Spam)
Buttonstc's avatar

So bit-rot happens from Microsoft programs? This wont eventually happen with Linux also?

I guess I don’t really have a good understanding of exactly what is implied in the term bit-rot. Will it happen eventually regardless of which O S is used or is Linux (or perhaps Unix) kind of a magic cure-all? What about OSX which is built upon a Unix core?

Just really curious…

jerv's avatar

Figure, XP came out over a decade ago, has only had three major updates in that time, and is no longer actively supported. Like most Windows versions, it is not particularly robust either, so over time, errors accumulate. A Windows install does not age gracefully.

OS X is also a decade old, but is updated more often (about every couple of years) and is far more robust to begin with anyways. Almost bulletproof, actually. It doesn’t have nearly as many flaws as Windows, so there are no real errors that can accumulate over time and degrade performance.

Linux is technically as old as both of then put together (it turns 21 this year; it’s almost old enough to drink!) but is updated constantly. By “constantly”, I mean that any problem that is brought to the attention of any competent coder with a little bit of concern will be solved within hours. As for major revisions… well, it’s not nearly so simple Just as food that only sits in your fridge for 2–3 days doesn’t really have time to spoil, Linux would not have issues with “bit rot” even if it were not as robust as OS X.

In summary, it will happen with any OS that is not maintained and updated regularly, and it will happen quicker on an OS that is inherently flawed. Both OS X and Linux are actively supported and both come from good “genes”; Windows is not and does not. I won’t say Linux is a cure-all, but I wil say that ditching Windows will cure most problems whether you go with penguins or fruits.

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