Question Laptop regularly grinding to a snail's pace

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Penner, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. Penner

    Penner
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    My Lenovo Ideapad Z580 has a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and (nominally) a 1TB HDD. It runs Windows 8.1.

    I am a keen photographer, and an enthusiast of Photoshop CC alongside Adobe Bridge. I also have an extensive range of other software on the computer. I have a huge number of image files on the HDD, which now has only 76GB remaining free.

    I am increasingly finding, these days, that after I've been working on the computer for a hour or two (usually editing image files) it runs slower and slower. Functions within Photoshop (cropping, for example) which normally take a second or two can eventually take a minute or more to complete.

    At this stage, if close Photoshop and Bridge, leaving only Internet Explorer 11 open, I find that even it is running grindingly slowly.

    If I restart the computer, all functions return to normal for a while. Then, after a while, the same symptoms start to recur.

    My first thought is to fit a larger hard drive, with the idea that might give Photoshop more scratchpad space. But I don't know whether this would work. My next thought is to add extra RAM to the laptop, but I discover that the 8GB it already has is the maximum that this model will support.

    So, I'm now considering a new computer. But when I look at real upgrades to my current spec (ie: Core I7, 12 or 16GB RAM, 2 TB HDD) I find that the prices are pretty eye-watering.

    I'd be very grateful for any views on my best option for improving the performance of my existing computer.

    1. What do you think is the most significant "throttling" factor on my computer?

    2. Would an bigger capacity HDD prevent the slowdown that I'm experiencing?

    3. As I can't upgrade the RAM, would a fast USB drive - say 32GB - make a real difference, if it's installed as a Readyboost device in a USB 2.0 port?

    All thoughts and views would be gratefully received, please.
     
  2. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves
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    Hardware isn't 'exhausted' by prolonged use. If the fault was an excessively slow drive, a lack of memory or anything like that then it would return to the normal speed when you closed the more demanding programs like photoshop (it may need a minute or two to reload files that got squeezed out of memory/cache). 76GB is huge amounts of free space, some laptops with 120GB SSDs come with less from the factory.

    Often when a system slows down like that it's because a program has a bug that's causing it to use more and more resources over time rather than letting go of the ones it doesn't need. That's known as a resource leak, memory leaks being the most well known.

    I would examining stuff in task manager to see if there's any obvious culprit using far more memory than you'd expect or hammering the disk once the system is slowed. I'd also try running the system with all third party background programs closed to see if that solves the problem, you can them eliminate half the programs at a time to narrow down the culprit.
     
  3. Penner

    Penner
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    Many thanks for those thoughts, Endless Waves - very useful. I do not have your obvious technical expertise, but I'll see what I can do to follow your recommendations.

    My principal problem will be recognising what amounts to "far more memory than you'd expect". And when you say that I should run the system with all third-party background programmes closed, do you mean - for example - running just Photoshop, without simultaneously running Bridge or Internet Explorer, or do you mean closing running processes within Task Manager? If the latter, again my lack of technical knowledge would give me problems knowing what I can safely close.

    Any further guidance would be very gratefully received.
     
  4. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves
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    If the utility that monitor's your printer's ink levels is using up 75% of the memory on the system. Don't worry much about the main applications, it's usually the minor helper ones that cause these problems.

    Basically no process except the ones taking up most of the screen (photoshop, internet explorer etc.) should use more than about 100MB (100,000kB), with the possible exception of the services host process (scvhost.exe) or the desktop window manager (dwm.exe) which might go up to a few hundred megabytes. Generally numbers one or two digits longer than everything else

    You should be able to manage startup items in task manager in Windows 8.1. Generally you can disable everything there except security software and stuff by Microsoft, then restart and see if the system slows down after a few hours again.
     
  5. Penner

    Penner
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    OK, many thanks again, EW. I'll try to proceed as you suggest and see what I can identify as a possible source of problems.
     
  6. Penner

    Penner
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    I've tried looking at Task Manager - firstly at the (surprisingly long) list of background processes. None of these uses more than 100MB of memory, except one. "Evented I/O for Java script" uses 57MB and "Bitdefender Security Service" uses 268 MB. The remainder are all less than 25 MB - the majority a great deal less.

    I then launched a series of apps, to see whether any of them looks unreasonably large. The attached image shows the following:-

    IE 507 MB (twice as much as Photoshop!)
    Photoshop 260 MB (with two RAW image files open increases to 709 MB)
    Adobe Bridge 216 MB
    Word 13 MB (a surprisingly light load)

    Everything together occupies a little over half of my 8 GB memory which, to my untutored eye, looks reasonable.

    I'll post this information now, and then have another look at Task Manager when the computer is grinding to a slowdown, and post again.
    Apps.jpg
     
  7. Penner

    Penner
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    EndlessWaves - you've put me on the track of something very interesting!

    You'll have seen above that when I first launched my usual collection of apps, Photoshop occupied 260MB of RAM. After I had opened two 25MB RAW image files in Adobe Camera Raw (a module within Photoshop) it occupied 760MB, from which I deduce that Adobe Camera Raw is itself some 450MB.

    I have subsequently opened about 8 or 9 other RAW images. Each time, I have processed the image within Adobe Camera Raw, then opened the image within Photoshop itself (at which point ACR closes). After some further processing/editing, I have saved each image as a jpeg and then closed it.

    Each time I closed a file, I took another look at Task Manager, and each time, Photoshop's memory size had grown! The progression went something like: 760MB, 796MB, 835MB, 1106MB.... after the abovementioned 8 or 9 images, Photoshop (with no open files and ACR closed) stood at 1138 MB - four times its original launch size!

    I closed Photoshop and then launched it again, whereupon Task Manager reported it back at 259MB again.

    Are you able to explain this, please?

    In the meantime, I guess my next experiment must be to try closing and relaunching Photoshop after every half-dozen or so images, and see whether this solves my slowdown problem.

    Once again, sincere thanks for leading me through this problem.
     
  8. EndlessWaves

    EndlessWaves
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    I don't know what's normal for Windows 8.1 but 4.5GB of memory used with only 1.5GB of foreground applications open seems to be on the high side.

    Which memory readout are you looking at out of interest?

    That might point to an issue. If you keep opening then closing files then do you get the slowdown or does the memory use level off (probably either at 2GB, 4GB or close to 8GB) and everything is still responsive?

    I take if you've got the latest patches for your version of adobe's software?
     
  9. Penner

    Penner
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    EW - I'm looking at the Memory column on the Processes tab in Task Manager.

    Yes, I have the latest version: Photoshop CC 2015, which was updated only about 2 weeks ago.

    I have been digging further into the business of Photoshop's memory usage, and it seems that Photoshop will retain RAM even after the files are closed to speed up processing. It will release that RAM as other programmes need it. I have discovered that you can set a Preference to specify the maximum amount of the computer's RAM Photoshop is permitted to grab for this purpose. So I'm going to try specifying a maximum and see what happens.
     

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