February 2nd, 2014

angle

Stupid Computer Stuff Detected

So, I've been having a problem with the new desktop computer recently. Five days or so ago, Microsoft pushed an update my way. A day or two later, I had incidents where the computer would hang for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, perhaps forever, but I would force a reboot... and usually get the same problem within about an hour. It was a very weird behavior: I could move the mouse cursor, and when I moved it over to the upper right, the charms would (usually) pop up, but slowly. But whatever I was doing at the time was locked up pretty tight, and I couldn't close that program or start any new ones. Not even the power button control. Ctrl-Alt-Del seemed to have no effect, or maybe after five minutes it would get me to the screen where I could select the task manager, but that would never open.

First thought was that Chrome was doing some bullshit. But then I had the problem on reboot before I even touched Chrome.

Second thought: since I installed Dropbox close to the same time, I thought it might be that. Exited Dropbox after a reboot. Few minutes later, system was hung again.

After one reboot, I thought about opening task manager right away and leaving it open so I could see what was happening. Guess what? Disk activity went to 100%, even though there was only a little CPU activity. Searching for that revealed that this is a frequent problem with Windows 8/8.1 and Microsoft pretends not to know about it. Just about every Tom, Dick and Harry has his "solution", but since other people report those solutions didn't work, it didn't really look like a "solved" problem to me. Still, I tried a couple things: disabled VM paging, turned off live tiles. No real result.

But one guy's longish solution mentioned a good strategy, at least: open Resource Monitor and find the specific thing that's hogging the disk. Of course, I had to open this before the problem began, just like task manager, because there was no way it was going to open after the problem began. I did not get the same result he did: part of the time, the resource hog was "system" -- good luck fixing that -- but Soluto was also showing up quite frequently. This was installed on my computer by the manufacturer and is something I never use, so I disabled the service... and so far, problem appears to be solved. Also disabled Dropbox on start up, just in case.

My 1 Theory: the MS fix I downloaded specifically mentioned correcting a problem with update requests being pushed on the stack. Unfortunately, this has hosed every app that does automatic updates, including Soluto. In my case, I didn't want that program in the first place, so disabling it was no big deal. But I pity the people who have had their systems effectively bricked because a program they use regularly is no longer compatible.