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Media Malaise!

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anaxcrosswords | 22:49 Tue 17th Feb 2015 | Computers
9 Answers
This PC (running XP) has had media processing problems for a while but they’re getting ridiculous, and these problems are media-related only – other types of software work perfectly well apart from the very occasional crash. Some examples:
YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook videos are unwatchable, with ridiculously long buffering pauses and skipping of content, even though I have a 17Mbs connection speed. Any video I watch will play for a second or so, then pause for 10-15 seconds.
Offline audio playback in Win Media Player is bad. A CD I tried to play this evening got to track 7, stuttered, then stopped altogether. The software didn’t crash, but operational button presses didn’t respond. I tried to use Magix instead and that wouldn’t even start to play track 1.
Using Magix again, I tried to convert the files to MP3. The processing speed gradually dropped from 12x to 1.2x, then stopped altogether at track 7 (of 17).
A couple of days ago I found an old song my buddy and I had recorded, and tried to add pics to the MP3 file in Win Movie Maker. The audio imported but every time I tried to add a photo it crashed. So I tried Cyberlink Power Director instead. That accepted the pics, but when I went to convert the 3½ minute file to AVI the resulting file was 3.5Gb(!) and the audio finished long before the slideshow.

I frequently run CC Cleaner, anti-virus, anti-spyware, defrag etc etc, so the PC is basically clean, but it just cannot handle media. Can anyone help? Is there a fundamental reason why the system might be tying itself in knots?

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Until one of the techies comes along the only thing I can suggest is that as Microsoft are no longer supporting XP you are probably not getting the updates needed to operate the system.
Something is hogging all of your computer's memory and/or processing power.

Open the Task Manager (via right-clicking on the taskbar at the foot of your screen). Click 'View processes from all users' at the bottom left (if that option appears). Maximise the window to fill your screen, click on the 'Processes' tab and then minimise the window down to the taskbar. (You need to have the Task Manger open before you encounter a problem as you won't be able to open it if something is already hogging all of your computer's resources).

As soon as you encounter a problem, click to maximise the Task Manager window and look for anything abnormal. You're looking for:
(a) a high figure in the CPU column (everything should normally be quite low except for 'System Idle Process' ; or
(b) a high figure in the 'Mem Usage column ; or
(c) a figure which constantly changes every second or two in the 'Mem Usage' column (even if the figures you see are actually quite low).

If you can spot anything there, you might then have an idea of what's causing the problem. In my own experience, anti-virus software continually try to update itself is often the cause. (It's indicated by a frequently changing figure in the 'Mem Usage' column, possibly also associated with a lot of hard drive activity).

I battled for years with similar problems on my old XP machine. (Switching from Microsoft Security Essentials to Avast solved my problems for a while). Eventually though I gave up and forked out £99 for a reconditioned Windows 7 computer from a firm that I've got 100% faith in:
http://www.accomputerwarehouse.com/products/computing/refurbished-base-units
Maybe it's time to upgrade anyway?
Question Author
Someone has suggested a failing/failed graphics card. I've emailed a local PC repair company anyway. Sadly I may not be able to upgrade as the crossword software I use was designed for XP - as far as I can tell it's not yet supported by later OS.
Many XP programs will run under Windows 7 simply by selecting Compatibility Mode:
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-make-an-older-program-run-in-windows-7.html
(If you have problems actually installing an XP program under Windows 7, browse to wherever the installation file for the program is and run the installation program itself in Compatibility Mode).
When you try to watch Youtube , don't you find a warning saying .. You need to upgrade your browser... and when you try to upgrade you will find your operating system isn't compatible with a new browser.
Like you I had lots of problems with XP up until I upgraded to Win 7... Initially I hated it but now I think it's amazing. Everything runs really quickly and no waiting for YouTube etc.
Time to move on I think.

You can pick up an ex corporate Windows 7 system on eBay for £60...you can't go wrong.
Question Author
A techie is coming round to have a look next Tuesday – I’ll let you know what happens.
I had a real ‘doh!’ moment this morning, though, something I’d forgotten about because I rarely use a cold reboot. When I do, the New Hardware Wizard appears. I cancel it once and it appears again. I cancel that, then I get the ‘new hardware might not work properly’ balloon in the bottom right. No new hardware has been installed since a printer about 4 years ago and that works fine. So I’m guessing it’s possible the graphics card may be unseated or otherwise faulty, although I don’t know how that would affect audio processing. The soundcard appears to be working perfectly well in terms of playing back MP3, WMA and WAV.
Go into the Device Manager (via the Control Panel) and look for the dreaded exclamation marks alongside your list of installed devices.

Also check the status of all components using Belarc Advisor:
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
-- answer removed --
Question Author
Quick update. The techie scheduled on Monday didn't bother turning up - no contact, no explanation, just didn't show.
I've just bought a very nice little netbook (Acer Aspire 1, s/h but pristine condition) onto which I think I'll download audio/video software, use that instead of the PC.

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