Having some odd problems with my system.

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Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:46 pm

No idea what's going on. I'm running Windows Vista SP2 x64, and starting yesterday IU began having insane slowdown. When this happened, I rebooted.

A few hours later, it happened again. I checked my task manager, and somehow not only have almost all of my processes somehow gone DOWN in RAM usage, but almost all of my RAM is being used up. I have four gigs.

I check the resource manager to get more info, and somehow I;'m getting 100-400 hard faults a second. I figure "Oh dammit, my RAM's going bad, better load up memtest86 and check to be certain." I ran it for over eight hours, completing nearly nine passes, and no errors were found, My next stop was to run a comprehensive S.M.A.R.T. test on it using the tool built into the latest Partition Magic. No errors found.

Today, I logged into my XP partition, ran Malwarebytes and then super anti-spyware. Other than finding tracking cookies(Which I really do need to clear out more often, but I prefer manual cookie deletion), nothing was amiss.

I logged into Vista again and hoped in vain that it was somehow fixed. It wasn't. A few hours later, it happened again. When I checked the resource manager, I wasn't getting the giganticohuge amounts of hard faults.

The only change to my system during all of this, to my knowledge, was a friend gifted me RAGE on Steam. Every time my system went wacky, it was downloading. It finally finished about 15 minutes ago.

I gave it a try, just to see what would happen if I ran that kind of full system resource utilizing application, and the damn thing was running smooth.

My full system specs are a Pentium Dual-Core 2160 OCed to 3 GHZ(idles at 1.8, the normal clockspeed), a Gigabyte GA-P31-S3G(I believe the 2.0 variant), a GeForce GTS 250(the 512 megabyte style. It's a rebranded standard model) at stock speeds, 4 gigs of DDR-800 running at 667 MHZ, a Xonar DG, and an Earthwatts 380(The original revision, not the one currently on the market).

Can anyone help?
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:41 am

If by "hard fault" you mean page faults, this isn't a memory error. All it means is that you're hitting the page file. Some apps also use what are called "memory mapped files" which can cause page faults even when you're not hitting the page file.

Sounds to me like you just got "had" by a workload that caused Windows to chew up lots of physical RAM for I/O buffers, indirectly resulting in a bit of pagefile thrashing on the processes it stole those pages from. Windows generally does a pretty good job of managing its physical RAM, but it isn't perfect.

Unless it keeps happening, I'd chalk it up to bad luck and not worry (too much) about it.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:38 am

As JBI notes, "hard faults" don't indicate RAM errors, they indicate a failure to find the page the processor is looking for in memory, causing the page in question to be brought in from the page file (and possibly thereby evicting another, causing another page fault later on); having a lot of them indicates your system is overcommitted (ie it needs more physical RAM than it actually has). Your observation that most of your other applications seem to be using less memory is consistent with this, since in that situation Windows will be demanding all applications trim their working set (the amount of memory they're actually using) in an effort to free up more for whatever is actively consuming it.
just brew it! wrote:Sounds to me like you just got "had" by a workload that caused Windows to chew up lots of physical RAM for I/O buffers, indirectly resulting in a bit of pagefile thrashing on the processes it stole those pages from. Windows generally does a pretty good job of managing its physical RAM, but it isn't perfect.
That's certainly one possible cause, though that could lead me to suspect a driver bug. But it's also quite possible for the system to get overcommitted in other ways through misbehaving applications or just something with a legitimately enormous active working set. In the Win 7 resource manager you can try sorting by Working Set and by Private Bytes to see if something stands out. You may find that nothing does, however, because Resource Monitor doesn't show everything. For example, you could have a misbehaving Service: services are listed on the CPU tab, but not on the memory tab, so it's difficult to monitor their memory usage. To really track down the problem (assuming it continues to happen) you'll need to get something like Process Explorer (Resource Monitor is really a prettified and simplified version of it).
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:54 am

Hard Faults is what the Resource Manager on Vista was telling me. *shrug*

Anyway, I did have one memory hitting task happening each time, Firefox(Which as everyone here knows can be a leaky program), but each time this happened, it's RAM usage was lower than the peak I've seen it hit and still have an acceptably running machine.

In addition, when I shut down everything I could and still have a functioning PC including Firefox, my system never recovered. Every single time this happened, no less.

I am going to run a test after I post, basically forcing firefox to hit high as hell memory usage, and see if that triggers the slowdown. If it does, I don't know why.

I did update my drivers before I was given RAGE(I planned to pick it up in the steam sale), but it was days before this issue happened, and I did the same memory intensive workloads that I usually do(Miss most of a night on Tumblr and you'll spend an hour or two catching up. on Firefox that equals a ton of RAM used. I typically restart my browser after).
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:46 am

I.S.T wrote:Every time my system went wacky, it was downloading.


Why look for the complex, when you supplied a likely simple answer.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:01 am

I.S.T. wrote:Hard Faults is what the Resource Manager on Vista was telling me. *shrug*

Sorry for the confusion, I mostly stopped using Windows around the time Vista came out; apparently that's what Microsoft calls page faults these days.

An actual memory fault (as in bad RAM) would most likely cause an application crash or BSOD (unless you've got ECC RAM and a motherboard that supports it, which you don't).
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:49 am

Did you by chance happen to install an update to Firefox lately ?? I had the same problem recently in that one of my Firefox Add-Ons was causing a conflict. If so, try and disable any Add-Ons and then see if the slowdown goes away.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:03 am

P5-133XL wrote:
I.S.T wrote:Every time my system went wacky, it was downloading.


Why look for the complex, when you supplied a likely simple answer.


You know it's funny, but I experienced this same thing the other night while downloading Portal 2 off Steam. System slowed to a crawl. In my case, I just left it alone for a couple of hours and when I came back everything was fine.

Additionally, Steam did some kind of large update to Civ 5 about a week ago, and I noticed some unusual slowdown then as well, around the time it was finishing up.

Prior to this I've never had these issues when Steam (or anything else) was downloading, but maybe something is up with Steam?
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:15 pm

I isolated Firefox as not being the cause. I got it up to nearly 1.6 gigs early today just to see what would happen. The browser got a bit slow, but otherwise my system was fine.

If it's really steam causing the issue... yeeeeesh. Why would that cause my RAM usage to go completely sane?
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:06 pm

Have you actually looked at the working set / private bytes of the Steam process to verify that it is what is consuming memory?

BTW, that's a motherboard that dates back to the "Dude, where's my 4GB" era: do you actually see all 4GB of memory? (You could try using the RAMMap utility if you're not absolutely sure.)
just brew it! wrote:Sorry for the confusion, I mostly stopped using Windows around the time Vista came out; apparently that's what Microsoft calls page faults these days.
Well, it makes sense: since Windows isn't flushing pages from memory right away (unless the system is already overcommitted) and in fact is pre-fetching pages in many cases, it's not uncommon for the kernel to discover that the page it needs to fault into memory is in fact already in memory, just not mapped appropriately. So that's a "soft" fault and it can just do a few fix-ups in the page tables to make everything work without hitting the disk at all; faults where it does actually have to go to the disk thus become "hard" faults.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:15 pm

Yes, I see all the RAM. I am running a x64 OS(I chose it on purpose to future proof my ass)
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:58 pm

I.S.T. wrote:Yes, I see all the RAM. I am running a x64 OS(I chose it on purpose to future proof my ass)
Yes, but the BIOS has to be set to remap the memory at the top of the 4GB space that would otherwise be shadowed by PCI devices, which is what I was asking: some motherboards of that vintage were set to do it automatically while others were not (and some didn't even offer the option).
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:29 pm

I have an HP box with a Core 2 which was originally a Vista install. Every morning about 15 minutes after booting up, it would start this insanely disk I/O intensive registry backup that was, in theory, only supposed to happen once a week in Vista. The CPU usage was fine, but the disk I/O would max out for up to an hour. I installed Win 7 and it's never been an issue since then. Probably unrelated, but I thought I'd toss that out there.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:27 pm

UberGerbil wrote:
I.S.T. wrote:Yes, I see all the RAM. I am running a x64 OS(I chose it on purpose to future proof my ass)
Yes, but the BIOS has to be set to remap the memory at the top of the 4GB space that would otherwise be shadowed by PCI devices, which is what I was asking: some motherboards of that vintage were set to do it automatically while others were not (and some didn't even offer the option).


I tested with RAMMap and indeed I am getting the full four gigs.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:17 am

Alright, Resource Manager helped me figure it out.

Steam is the culprit, and I'm guessing it's for games that use the newish version of the download/patching process. It causes the system to raise the Cache Workspace to insanely high levels(I saw it at just under 3 gigs), up to gigabytes at a time.

Valve needs to fire some people. :P

Thanks for the help, folks!

Edit: For anyone that is curious, I deleted RAGE and started downloading it again. I'm guessing due to the sheer size of the game, and Carmack's lust for living on the edge, it uses the new content system. Dota 2 does as well, and a friend of mine has noted repeated slowdowns when it tries to update the game and she is doing CPU/etc intensive processes, such as streaming video online.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:27 pm

I.S.T. wrote:Valve needs to fire some people. :P
Well, I'm not sure about that but clearly there's something amiss. I suspect that the combination of x64 and 4GB is kind of a worst case situation, since 4GB is pretty much the minimal size for anyone who actually installs x64. And 64bit enables (indeed encourages) taking larger bites of the apple, which is a problem if you're dealing with a limited fruit. I wouldn't be surprised if Steam stabilizes at some working set that doesn't cause a problem on a larger system, though clearly this is a configuration that should be in their test environment (and accounted for in their design).

I wonder if you used Task Manager (or Process Explorer) to set the priority of the Steam process to Low if you would see better behavior (because Vista/7 applies priority not just to CPU scheduling but also to memory and IO, and the other tasks with normal priority should be given preference when the system gets overcommitted)
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:05 am

So, Steam updated tonight, and one of the notes was lowered disc writing when downloading games using the new content system.

Just thought people in this topic might be interested.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:52 am

I.S.T. wrote:So, Steam updated tonight, and one of the notes was lowered disc writing when downloading games using the new content system.

Sounds like they overshot themselves by assuming people having more RAM with too much caching. At least they are listening I guess.
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Re: Having some odd problems with my system.

Postposted on Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:52 pm

It didn't help me when Payday: The Heist updated a few days ago, FWIW. My RAM usage shot all the way back up to 98%.
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