Reset or Something Else?

Suggestions for how to best get my computer running better (especially during games).

I am assuming that the best route is to simply do a system reset, which I haven't done in years though I imagine the process probably hasn't changed that much. I'm not too worried about losing files, though I need to spend time collecting pics and tax files first. Also, I am eventually going to get a new pc built for me (Gameguru has been busy of late) and I want this one to go to my son.

So is it best to simply reset? Or, is it better to try a software solution to clean up files that are A) hogging resources and B) unnecessary?

Thanks.

If you want a fresh clean system, I'm a fan of doing a clean install off a USB drive.

What issues are you getting though? Are you sure you don't have hardware failing? Game performance shouldn't be dropping off, modern Windows versions are quite good at maintaining themselves.

Oh, make sure to disable Game Bar. That just causes problems.

Make sure to run temperature checks. If your performance is slowing down, some form of cooling may be failing. If you have a liquid cooler on your CPU, that becomes much more likely; we've seen a lot of those burn out. I've lost two of the darn things, and the second time, it was a fairly gradual problem, and I blamed the game that was setting off the symptoms, Subnautica. It took me about two months to finally realize that the problem wasn't the beta code, it was crappy hardware. That was a freaking unbelievable hassle, and I was so happy to finally solve it.

Once you've proven that your hardware is fine, then start digging into software reasons for a slowdown. A clean install should clear that up, as long as you don't promptly reinstall whatever was was originally causing the issue. But it's kind of a slash-and-burn approach to computer maintenance, and is quite costly in terms of time. It usually takes me about four straight hours for a full OS reinstall, driver installation, and various tweaks, and I'll probably be tinkering with it occasionally for weeks afterward. It's not a thing to do lightly, IMO. Figuring out the problem and fixing it may be less costly in terms of total time.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

If you want a fresh clean system, I'm a fan of doing a clean install off a USB drive.

What issues are you getting though? Are you sure you don't have hardware failing? Game performance shouldn't be dropping off, modern Windows versions are quite good at maintaining themselves.

Oh, make sure to disable Game Bar. That just causes problems.

I had not heard of Game Bar, but it was turned on. I've now turned it off.

I was prefer to play games on PC but stopped because A) I was too busy B) I want to use my PS4 3) and most importantly sometimes when I was in a game it would make my screen and sound go completely black, and I would have to hard restart. It happened in Inside. And it happened in Skyrim, but only after I put like 12 hours in Skyrim. At that point I could load and play for like 15 minutes and this mess would happen. So, I stopped plating PC games.

My sons were into Minecraft, then Roblox, and now Fortnite. Fortnite runs okay, usually, but since last week or so it's become super laggy. It could be the game, but I know there are issues with my PC. While the game is laggy we've gone to Task Manager and have noticed that memory is running super high (85+%), but I will be honest I am a PC idiot so I don't know what it's supposed to run at if all is running efficiently.

I might have failing hardware, that was one of the things suggested a while back when I came here about my Skyrim issues. If that's a possibility I'd like to be able to test and isolate this, and see if it is something that can be repaired.

My current plan is to buy a new PC and Game Guru is going to build one for me (though he has been busy so I've been on hold for a couple of months). When I do get a new PC I'd like to take this one- which was on the low end of mid-range when I bought it 2-5 years ago- and give it to my son to play Fortnite in his room.

Thoughts?

Malor wrote:

Make sure to run temperature checks. If your performance is slowing down, some form of cooling may be failing. If you have a liquid cooler on your CPU, that becomes much more likely; we've seen a lot of those burn out. I've lost two of the darn things, and the second time, it was a fairly gradual problem, and I blamed the game that was setting off the symptoms, Subnautica. It took me about two months to finally realize that the problem wasn't the beta code, it was crappy hardware. That was a freaking unbelievable hassle, and I was so happy to finally solve it.

Once you've proven that your hardware is fine, then start digging into software reasons for a slowdown. A clean install should clear that up, as long as you don't promptly reinstall whatever was was originally causing the issue. But it's kind of a slash-and-burn approach to computer maintenance, and is quite costly in terms of time. It usually takes me about four straight hours for a full OS reinstall, driver installation, and various tweaks, and I'll probably be tinkering with it occasionally for weeks afterward. It's not a thing to do lightly, IMO. Figuring out the problem and fixing it may be less costly in terms of total time.

My PC isn't nice enough to suffer the problem of liquid cooling, so that is good at least. As I mentioned in my response to Dev I'm just not sure how to isolate whether it is hardware or not. It sounds like it could be possible. One good thing about a full reinstall is I could finally find a way to kill the PlaysTV app, which I otherwise have been unable to delete.

I have done full restores before I found them mind-numbingly long and stupid affairs. Hopefully it is better now?

Also, wherever I got my computer from (don't recall) installed Windows, but did not give me a USB drive it. Where would I go to pick one up, if I do have to restore the computer?

I would actually rather find a way to isolate the problem, rather than restore, for sure. I just am not super savy. I know that there used to be programs you could run that would do full diagnostics and list every possible program running into a long text file (I recall having to search for particular .dll files after someone helped me walk through the process of using such a program)- I'm not sure if programs like this are still favored, or not. I really know just enough about PCs to know that I don't know a darned thing about them.

A Windows 10 install is super quick off a USB drive. Just Google the Windows 10 media creation tool. I like to download the iso then make a bootable drive using Rufus. You can use the tool to make a bootable drive directly. You can just reset, but I'm old fashioned. I prefer to do it manually.

Does the pc only give problems when gaming? Those issues sound like graphics card problems.

First, install Display Driver Uninstaller, boot your pc into safe mode and use it to delete your display drivers. Reinstall drivers and install MSI Afterburner and set it to monitor temps while gaming.
If you get a crash, go check Afterburner's logs.

If temps got too high you may have a dead fan. If they didn't you may have a failing card.

If the problems happen outside of games I'd suggest downloading Seatools and running some hard drive tests.

If all looks fine then at this point I'd reinstall Windows. It is a bit of a nuclear option, but it's so easy these days.

Spoilering so that not everyone has to look at a big wall of text:

Spoiler:

I'm a bit torn in that I'd really say not to do the wipe, since it sounds like you don't particularly want the headache of it, but if you're giving it to your son anyway you'll want to do a clean install before you pass it down. Regardless of who you're giving a machine to, you should wipe and re-install before handing it off. Without doing so, you're giving your son a copy of all your personal and tax documents and letting him connect to the internet, in a setting that is at least somewhat unsupervised. I hope I don't have to go into detail about how incredibly stupid that would be. And the only way to be sure you got all of your personal information out of it is to start over from scratch. Once you hand that system off, view it as a vile, infected piece of hardware on your network that you constantly have to be wary of. This is a bit over the top, but it's good security practice.

HARDWARE
But before we go that route, let's look at your hardware. I'm a fan of Open Hardware Monitor. Download and run it (I don't think it even needs to be installed, I think it just unzips to a folder). Hit yes to let it run in admin mode. Then look at your performance during idle. Snap a picture and post it. For posting pictures quickly, I use the Snipping Tool built into Windows, and a free account on IMGUR. Then load a game that stresses the system. Give it a good minute or two, then alt-tab over to OHM, snap a picture and post it.

The things you'll be looking for are CPU load %, Memory load %, GPU load % and temperature. CPU temperature could be an issue as well, but that's a little more complicated and isn't captured in OHM.

Next, you need a USB flash drive. You can buy them almost anywhere. Walmart, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, Best Buy... hell, I've seen them at 7-11's. Here's the search results from Walmart: USB Flash Drives. Grab a cheap one, size doesn't matter because they're all complete overkill for what you're doing (Win10 installation requires 8GB, most are 16GB+ as no one sells smaller ones anymore).

You may want to test your RAM. Click here to download the USB version of MemTest86. Extract the files to a folder, then (after you have bought your USB flash drive and put it into a USB port), run the imageUSB program in that folder. It'll bring up an interface. Step 1 select your USB, step 2 should be set to Write, step 3 should automatically populate the image file, and step 4 click write.

Reboot, and you'll need to go into your BIOS and tell your system to boot to a USB drive. If you post your motherboard, I can walk you through that, but it's too specific to try to give generic instructions. Though, generally most motherboards have a "Boot" tab that goes into all the options, and you're just looking for something like "CDROM/USB boot priority".

Once you get that going, let Memtest boot and run it's test. RAM can have the occasional error and not technically be bad, but if you're getting hundreds or thousands of errors then your RAM is toast.

SOFTWARE
I'm assuming you are already running Win10 here, so if you're not this might be a bit off. Go into the Task Manager (CTRL+SHFT+ESC), and go into the Startup tab. Disable anything here that you don't particularly use. Nothing in this tab is necessary for Windows to boot, so you risk nothing by disabling anything here. Reboot afterwards, and if you disabled a bunch of stuff, run a game and test performance.

Next, download Malwarebytes (free version), install and run a scan. Hopefully it doesn't find anything, but best to check when you're having issues. Tell it to fix/quarantine anything it finds.

Assuming we're not seeing anything that's particularly damning (or you said to hell with troubleshooting), you might as well re-install since you'll want to anyway for good security. Click here for the Win10 Installation Media Creation Tool. Run that program, and follow the prompts to turn your flash drive into a Win10 USB installation drive. You can also use this tool to burn a DVD if you'd rather go that direction. If you didn't go through the step for Memtest to have your motherboard boot to a USB, you'll need to figure that out now. Or just try it without bothering, it might be set to boot to removable media by default.