Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My work PC needs a surgery

Work computer slow

My work computer is very slow and I suppose most of the time that's the case. I blame three things for my particular PC: having only 4GB RAM, having no SSD and most importantly running McAfee VirusScan Enterprise as the security software. It crawls when debugging through Visual Studio and working with multiple applications at the same time.

There are 4 members in my team who use similar PCs and everyone's experience has been identical, except my PC is going even further.

Last Thursday, I had to run a check on the printer driver to see how much of a performance hit the feature that we had been working on had. When I first measured the printing duration of the stock drivers, it took way longer that it was supposed to. At first I thought it was a problem with the driver package as the stock driver was still in pre-alpha stage. And from this version onwards,  there were some large design changes that were being incorporated which could have been the cause of the slowdown in the first place. 

Just to pinpoint the culprit, I checked the final release installer of the previous version of the driver which should have no performance issues. It was definitely faster than the one I was originally testing,  though not by much.  It was still way off the charts.

Finally I decided to run the check on a colleague’s  PC.  To my amazement,  it ran the test many times faster than mine, making my PC the suspect of the mystery. 

Reinstalling Windows would fix the issue,  but others were curious as to what caused this in the first place (Japanese!) because there could be a hidden performance bottleneck with the driver somewhere, which only. I had been able to discover so far.  Plus, there is no way to guarantee that the end-users who use the printers won't have a PC that's was behaving similarly and telling them that it is their fault would only make us lose business.

The thing is,  I will have to run the PC this way until we get some free time to troubleshoot. Because this phenomenon is only seen on my PC,  naturally analyzing of this issue would be postponed farther into the future as it would be deemed low priority. But as I didn't want to wait that long,  I decided to snoop around during my free time, which I could spare today in the evening.

The following are what I checked at first.

  • Whether any suspicious processes were running in background. All seemed normal.
  • Whether any excessive disk activity was observed while executing the print job. Nothing out of ordinary.
  • Whether the services that I had disabled had any effect. Reverting to the stock state of services by referring to BlackViper’s Windows 8.1 services guide, did not make any difference.
  • Whether the CPU was properly boosting. It was not. It was mostly stuck at around x16, seldom boosting to full x39. Selecting the “High Performance” power saving mode fixed the issue. Still, it only saw a 25% decrease in execution time. Still a long way off from expected results.
  • Whether the CPU was performing as expected. This was checked by whether the CPU was able to produce 1M calculations in Super PI Mod 1.5 within 10 seconds.
  • Whether the HDD was performing according to specifications. HD Tune reports max read speeds of 125MB/s and average read speeds of 90MB/s which seemed normal for this particular drive.
  • Whether the user profile was corrupted. This was done by switching to a fresh user profile. But similar slowdowns were observed with it as well.

That’s about all I tried so far. No luck so far.

Next I am going to install VTunes Amplifier 2005 (trial version that I downloaded) and see which module is responsible for the slowdowns. That sure might be a revelation but I will have to wait till next week. Wish me luck.

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