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View Full Version : Ongoing Company Wide Performance Issues at Desktop Users - Advice?



tcfxaox
11-09-2011, 01:54 PM
Good Afternoon Everyone,

I work at a small software company with a minimal, but increasing, budget for PC Hardware and peripherals. Over the last few years* we have had ongoing difficulties with our end user desktop performance which have recently, with the addition of a new application (RingCentral's Call Manager) become more pronounced. In the past we have added resources to the affected machines to reach the max possible system memory and basically resorted to reformatting the machines every few months while performing regular defragmentation. This was the only way to keep the machines performing at a somewhat acceptable level.

The users reporting difficulties are all on the following hardware, with either Windows XP Pro or Windows 7 Professional. Users with Windows XP experience slightly better performance - I expect because the operating system itself simply does not require as much resources.

Hardware / Platform / Environment Details:

Dell Dimension 2350
Intel P4 2.0 Ghz
1GB PC2100 RAM
Windows XP Pro or Windows 7 Professional
Internet Explorer 8

Difficulties reported include:

- Slow Performance Opening Applications (Especially Outlook)
- Slow Performance switching between browser tabs and / or opening new browser tabs
- Slow Performance logging in

Users run the following applications on a daily basis aside from the base OS, in nearly all cases, these applications are ran simultaneously:

- Internet Explorer: Access to web applications including CRM / Salesforce
- Outlook / Office - Create Documents / Communicate
- GoToMeeting / GoToMyPc / GoToAssist / GoToManage - Remote Support and Demo Software
- Ring Central Call Manager
- AIM Pro: Internal Instant Messaging / Communications

Here is what I am noticing after doing a bit of digging nstead of simply continuing to format the machines as has been requested of me since these machines are 'just running office':

With current web browser and office applications (Internet Explorer is a memory hog), the hardware on these machines is just not up to the task of running even the above basic 'office' applications. Per the attached screenshots / images from a user's machine this morning - memory is at 85 - 95% usage and CPU usage is at 50 - 60% usage with regular spikes to 100%. The users might be able to run any single application without issue - but when they run four to five browser tabs in addition to the other required applications performance degrades significantly.

http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/2917/img00322201111091057.jpg

http://img192.imageshack.us/img192/2571/img00323201111091057.jpg

http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/2313/img00324201111091057.jpg

http://img341.imageshack.us/img341/22/img00325201111091058.jpg

My questions are:

A. Am I correct in my belief that the issue is simply grossly inadequate hardware?

A. Is there anything I can do immediately to increase performance on these machines? I would be interested in any PC performance / troubleshooting books or web sites that cover comprehensive PC troubleshooting.

B. If I can talk the owner into purchasing new desktops - even one or a few at a time would help - what is the recommended hardware benchmark for todays 'just running office / IE / etc.' computer?

Thanks,

Tcfxaox
Product Development Manager / Software Quality Assurance
Less than Experienced Network / Systems Administrator

123456
11-09-2011, 02:06 PM
Those machines are $400 Dells from 2004. Not worth doing anything else on them and they're really crappy machines. Of course they're super slow by today's standards... tell your company to upgrade to i3 processor systems.

LochLomonder
11-09-2011, 03:28 PM
A. Am I correct in my belief that the issue is simply grossly inadequate hardware?

Yes, they're outdated and the problems will be exacerbated on the Win 7 machines. I've seen Win 7 work okay on 2GB of RAM but 1GB of PC2100 RAM? It'll be slower than a three-legged tortoise, as your users have experienced.


A. Is there anything I can do immediately to increase performance on these machines? I would be interested in any PC performance / troubleshooting books or web sites that cover comprehensive PC troubleshooting.

There are a few minor things you could try, although I don't think you'd have a great deal of performance improvement on the PCs (especially the Win 7 ones).

Check the free space on the HDDs. I don't imagine they'd be that big (somewhere in the region of 40-80GB), given when they were purchased. Clean out as many extraneous programs as possible. In addition, run CCleaner (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner) on the PCs to clean out temp files.

I know you mentioned defragging, but what do you use to do that? The built-in defragger? A good freeware option for this is MyDefrag (http://www.mydefrag.com/index.html).

Do the PCs work on a domain, or are they part of a workgroup? In either case, it might be worthwhile checking if there are old accounts on the PCs which can be deleted. You'd be surprised how much space they can accumulate over time.


B. If I can talk the owner into purchasing new desktops - even one or a few at a time would help - what is the recommended hardware benchmark for todays 'just running office / IE / etc.' computer?

I would agree with 123456; go for i3 processors, and a minimum of 4GB of RAM with 64-bit Windows Professional. For the needs you've outlined, this should be more than adequate for your users' needs.

tcfxaox
11-09-2011, 04:36 PM
123456 & Loch,

Thank you for the replies - you are correct. The original Hard Drives with these computers were in the range of 40GB to 80GB. In the process of attempting to squeeze better performance out of the users machines the hard drives have been replaced with 7200 RPM Hard Drives with 120GB+.

I tend to prefer DiskKeeper for degragmenting - though the freeware / open source application you suggested will definitely work its way into my toolkit since its free - I've only been able to take advantage of the diskkeeper trial thus far due to our limited budget.

I've found a few open source / free apps for cleaning temp files - I use TempFileCleaner and ATF Cleaner (Developed for XP Pro specifically) depending on the operating system.

The machines are all part of a single domain - I will definitely check to see if there are any user documents / files present on the machines that can be removed. I hadnt thought of this one :)

Since we already own the operating systems and have the Hard drives - I am going to see if we can find a combo motherboard / cpu deal that might help us save some money over purchasing a new full tower with an I3 / 4GB of ram for each user. I could build the machines myself and pick up some ram for them online - that should get everyone pointed in the right direction.

Thoughts? My only difficulty at the moment is determining if I can fit a current standard ATX motherboard into the Dell Dimension 2350 cases. The existing plastic heat director / heat sink assembly might present a problem.

Has anyone tried this before?

Thanks again!

123456
11-09-2011, 05:02 PM
Those cases are proprietary and they're too small for ATX mobos anyways. I doubt even an mATX could be fitted in there.

Cuc Tu
11-09-2011, 05:14 PM
There is no sense in saving pennies on hardware that costs nickels to set up and use...

My manager initially complained about requesting dual monitors for everyone in the group, but those things paid for themselves in increased productivity in a month.

If your IT group is spending time reformatting computers and replacing nickel and dime hardware to save a few bucks, you're doing it the expensive way and are loosing opportunity. Buy some hardware and use it to make real money.

LochLomonder
11-09-2011, 05:41 PM
You're welcome, tcfxaox.


The machines are all part of a single domain - I will definitely check to see if there are any user documents / files present on the machines that can be removed.

One more thing I thought of when you mentioned the domain structure: Do any of the users use roaming profiles? That would definitely be another performance hit on both the network and workstations.