Four days ago I noticed a serious drop in performance on my five year old Dell Studio laptop. An uncomfortable change in behavior was happening that appeared to be coming out of the blue. The system would degrade to the point where it was almost unusable. CPU stats would climb to 42% in Task Manager and stick there. The fan would jump to full power and stay there.
I went over what I might have changed or installed: a new password database application, and update to WinZip, some Microsoft updates, beta Firefox. Nothing really that should have caused the drag in performance that I was seeing. Symantec? I downloaded and installed MalwareBytes to scan for malware or anything malicious that might be present. Its been a really long time, years, since I’ve had any sort of virus issue so I wasn’t really surprised when the scans came back negative.
Next I looked at the hardware. Had something failed? I ran the diagnostics on the hardware and everything responded as ok. Wow, weird. So next I decided to remove the newer software, starting with the Firefox, and see if perhaps one of the new programs was causing the discomfort. No such luck. Uninstalled it and a couple of older programs I no longer use, did a clean up of the disk, installed CPUID’s HW Monitor to get an idea of how the hardware was behaving. The exhaust port was hot to the touch. The cpu seemed to be throwing off a lot of heat. HW Monitor told me the cpu was super hot, the cores were all pinned at 100%. Without running anything the cpu was being taxed like crazy.
Digging around online I found a few articles pointing to the weird 42% cpu thing but nothing that seemed related to my situation. Last night I found something different. There are a couple, more than a couple, of references to changes in how virtual memory is managed by Windows 10. This is something I haven’t changed in ages, Windows has been doing a good job of managing this. I don’t know what changed it but it definitely changed. So, I right click Start, select System, select Advanced system settings, select Settings under Performance on the Advanced tab. Select the Advanced tab on Performance Options and click Change on the Virtual Memory option. I uncheck the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives option and set the Custom size to the Recommended option at the bottom. Close everything up, reboot the laptop, and everything is back to normal.
I can only imagine that when the last set of updates were applied it maybe reset something? I’m going to watch it for a few days then try and switch it back and see what it does. Weird.