Dear Forum Members,
I have a 5 month old Acer Aspire 3100 notebook. Suddenly, about two to three weeks ago (between Christmas and New Year's) my computer began to “freeze” a few seconds or minutes into playing any type of media file. Now, when I say “freeze,” what I mean is that the video becomes choppy (the computer drops frames or displays the same frame for a number of seconds or the video just SLOWS down) Sometimes the audio is also choppy, this primarily occurs while using flvplayer to play videos downloaded from Youtube or Dailymotion using the VideoDownloader extension for Firefox. When I first began to download videos in this manner in early November, everything was fine. But then, suddenly, I started having this problem and it seemed to get worse and worse.
The Youtube/Dailymotion problem occurs whether I use Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera. When on Youtube, both the video and audio cuts out and is choppy, but while on Dailymotion, only the video is choppy, the audio plays fine. I then did a system restore on the 9th to a date before the problem occurred, I believe it was December 13th or 15th. That helped the problem a little bit, but did not completely remedy it. Before, a 3-4 minute Youtube video would have the problem in question about 6-10 times. After the system restore, the problem occurred only 2-4 times. But, since it still did not go away completely, I decided to do an Acer Factory Restore. That is the stage that I am at now. I have not messed with settings, done any updates, or installed much software at all (only OpenOffice, Firefox, Adobe Flash Player, ACA Screen Recorder, flvplayer, and Belarc Advisor). THE PROBLEM HAS PERSISTED, nonetheless.
No matter what media player I use, these problems persist. I experience problems even when playing .MP3 and .WMA files on Windows Media Player. The audio plays fine, but the visualizations are slow and choppy.
I don't know what is the cause and what is the result, but EVERY time this problem occurs, the CPU usage goes to 90% or 100%. However, the process that goes the highest is the media player or the browser I am using to play the media. And because I have done a virus scan and spyware scan, I am sure that it is not malware. The problem seems to happen at random times and random intervals.
So, in all, I have also did the following:
I tested my Internet connection at DSLReports, and it is 2900/300 kbps, so that must not be the problem; I am sure that that is fast enough.
Also, I am sure that I have enough RAM, 1 gig should be plenty to play small media files.
I did a McAfee virus scan and Windows Defender spyware scan before I did the system restore, and both scans came up with nothing. I have also checked the processes running in the background and none appear to be malicious.
The video codecs appear to be working properly and I appear to have all of the necessary ones to play the files that I (attempt to) play.
The video driver should not be the source of the problem, because I updated the driver before the problem occurred, and now, the driver is an older driver that came with the computer, yet the problem persists.
The hard drive should not be the source of the problem either, because it persists even when playing media files from a AC/DC powered external USB hard drive.
I know that the next recommendation is probably a CLEAN re-install and not just a FACTORY RESTORE, but I don't have an install CD and don't want to take the time to do an install if I don't ABSOLUTELY have to.
I am extremely frustrated and would really appreciate your help!
Thank you in advance,
Disgruntled Computer User
email: meglioc1 (AT) wscc (DOT) com
Computer Stats/ Basic Info:
Acer Aspire 3100 notebook
1024 mb RAM shared (128 video RAM)
AMD Mobile Sempron 3200+ (1600 mhz) (512 kb cache)
ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 IGP
60 GB HDD Intenal + 80 GB External
MATSHUSHITA DVD-RAM UJ-850S
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Could be a ton of things, Cody. Start by turning down your direct draw acceleration a notch.
Go into your c:\Program Files\ folder and sort the directories by date. Look for anything you installed in the past month.
Try a spyware scan using Spybot S&D
Reinstall DirectX 9.0c http://www.freewarefiles.com/program_10_111_516.html
Try this self contained media player (doesn't use external codecs). http://oss.netfarm.it/mplayer/gui/mplayer-gui-rtm-svn-21847.7z .Here's some internet archive files to test it with. If playback runs smoothly using this app, then the problem is with your playback codecs or directX. http://www.archive.org/details/hdv01 Choose the links on the botton half of the page so you can download the files rather than stream them.
BTW - Get a hardware router, and disable your windows firewall.
Soopafresh, first off, thanks for all of your suggestions.
So far, I have re-defragged both partitions of my hard drive. I have also turned down the DirectX settings 2 notches. I also installed Spybot S&D, ran a scan, found 7 tracking cookies, and removed them. I would have checked my Program Files directory, but since I just did a factory restore and the computer only has what it came with out of the box and a few programs, I thought that that was unnecessary, so I didn't do it. Doing all of this stuff did not improved the problem.
However, I downloaded that self contained media player (and 7-zip to open it) and a 45 minute video played through smoothly for the entire time I watched it (which was only 12-13 minutes because after that, I assumed that it would play fine because flvplayer couldn't go 2 minutes w/o a problem, yet alone 13 minutes). Through most of the playback, gmplayer.exe, the process for the media player, did not go over 10% of CPU power. Only once did it hit 22%. I am telling you this because when using flvplayer, the process would NEVER be below 10%, woudl OFTEN be around 25%, and would act up and cause choppy video and audio playback at 40% to 70% of CPU usage.
Toward the beginning of January before I did the factory restore, when I used VLC Media Player to play the files they played smoothly. But when using ANY other media player, choppiness would ensue.
I also tested the DirectX on my computer by running dxdiag and the tool said that I had no problems. I have attached the log provided by the utility.
Thanks so much for your help, but where do I go from here? Should I go ahead and reinstall DirectX 9c anyway? Should I update my video and chipset drivers, even though that did not help before when I did so before the restore? Which codecs do I need to install, and how do I get Youtube/Dailymotion videos to play smoothly; I have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player and I think that that is all that is needed to play those videos, I don't think any codec is required. What should I do?
Also, I do not usually use the Windows Firewall. I used to use Zone Alarm Free before the restore. When I am at home, I am behind a Linksys NAT router, but when using my computer on the college network which is slow and unprotected. Therefore, I use Zone Alarm.
Yes, reinstall the recent DirectX I linked to. There's also a Quartz.dll issue I recall. I'll search around and post if there's something applicable.
Also, document your a/v codecs and drivers with this util: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/mmview.zip
Also lets you turn off specific codecs, but probably better just to document the installed codecs. Open it up, choose Edit-->"Select All , then File--->"Save Selected Items" to a text file. Post it on up...
Edit - Actually, your DXdiag gives us most of the info we need to document.
Thanks for your fast reply. I installed DirectX from the site you specified, though it seemed to install rather quickly. I also used the a/v codec program to get a list of the codecs on my computer and have attached the list.
Is it worth it to re-upgrade the video/chipset drivers and the driver for processor? Do you think that will help even though I began to have the problem with the newer driver before I performed the factory restore?
Yeah, we can do that, but let's hold off until we've exhausted a few other possibilities. Video drivers are so peculiar and prone to crash a system if you don't do your homework. And because you have a manufactured laptop, there might be some specific driver version that we can and can't install....
Before we do anything, let's do a registry backup of your system with this tiny app - Rdilly.
All you have to do is click on rdilly.exe and it will create the backup.
As I was searching around, I found a tiny util that actually fixed a problem on my own PC.
You might want to give it a shot, it isn't harmful - all it does is reset XP to check for DMA drive channel capability on the next boot. You just run it and restart your system.
Thanks again for you quick, continued help.
I ran the VBA program first and I still have the problem. It seems as if the stuff were doing is making the problem a little better, but it's really difficult to tell. I could simply be looking for an improvement and finding a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the problem is still there, whether it's better or not. I also created a backup of the registry like you advised me to do. Now what?
I'd like to see what avgfree , ad-aware se , and hijackthis has to show ... in that order .
I especially recommend you use hijackthis , and disable all non-essential program's running in the background ... it's more likely to be struggling under all that you have in the picture .
If you not sure , post the log so we can tell you which one's to knock off for the time being .
I'd say you have picked up a nasty ... and its hiding in you SYSTEM RESTORE point's ... this is why it has persisted ...
1: Use hijackthis as I mentioned to stop programs not essential to system startup first .
2: Download and update ad-aware se , and run the scan .
3: Download and install avgfree , update .
4: Turn system off , disconnect unit from net device , and restart .
Disable system restore first .
Windows explorer , tool's , folder options , view tab .
Check "show files and folders"
Check the two below it
Answer yes to annoying box ... we know what were doing .
Click apply , then ok .
Go to documents and settings .
Empty the temp folder listed here
Empty the temporary internet folder as well .
You will need to do this for all accounts that have owner's ... living one's such as yourself that have been active and repeat these step's .
Close windows explorer ... you might want to reset those folder options back to what they were before .
Run avg full scan , if it finds anything , make sure after it finishes , you empty the the vault ... some will prevent net service's .
Reset system restore point ... your supposed to create a reinstall cd set upon receiving unit incase this ever happen's .
Rescan with hijackthis and post log info .
As it's not that old , and the possibility of nolonger being able to create a working backup system restore cd set ... if possible ... get it fixed under warrantee .
The remaining issue's may be related to hardware fault's ... but people do jump too conclusion's too quick these days before understanding how modern day virus's and trojan's being developed today react with current operating system's .
A hint : use avgfree and get rid of macafee ... smaller memory foot print is healthier on the system resource's ... dont get bogged down .
Just seen muvee in that codec file ... dose this mean you have this program installed , if so , uninstall it , and reboot and see what happen's .
Before I do all of this stuff, I think that I should clarify. You're right, I first did a SYSTEM restore, but when that didn't work, I did a FACTORY restore. I used the Acer eRecovery Management program, which takes the to completely overwrite my C: drive. Plus, before I restored the computer in any way, shape, or form, I ran a McAfee Virus Scan and Windows Defender scan and both came up with nothing. Both were updated before I did the scan. (And BTW, I have not yet installed ANY virus scanner because I want to resolve this problem before I spend hours installing things and find out that I HAVE TO do a format and clean install). I don't think that if the restore points were corrupted that doing a FACTORY restore would cause the problems to continue. Also, my warranty is not extended, so I am unsure as to whether or not Acer will do anything for me. Lastly, because I did a FACTORY restore last night, I doubt that much of anything is in my temporary folders, etc.
So, do you think that I should still do all of those things?
I think the problem is getting worse. I was listening to some .WMA audio files in the self-contained media player that Soopafresh recommend. However, this time, the audio did not play smoothly. I don't know what to do. I am getting more frustrated by the minute. What should I do now??
Bjs - Thanks so much for helping out on this one. He doesn't seem to get the choppy playback if he uses a player with built in codecs - Mplayer, VLC, etc. That pretty much says DirectShow and/or Codecs, maybe WMP itself.
Cody - here's the Quartz.dll that's supposed to work better on some machines.
You'll have to restart Windows in Safe Mode (keep tapping F8 during the restart, even before Windows starts up - visualize a morse code operator). Make a backup copy of your current Quartz.dll - it is located in c:\windows\system32 . Then, copy the downloaded one into the same directory - c:\windows\system32
I'm reading about certain Acer laptops overheating after some months of use. Install this laptop temperature app and let's see if your CPU goes into the red. Do a temperature test with the problematic player and the mplayer app you downloaded yesterday.
You system might be overheating when it uses a very CPU intensive app - maybe that's why you don't see a problem for a few minutes at times. If mplayer doesn't put as big of a stress on your system, that might be why it was working. Overheating is usually caused by dust clogging up an airway or fan. If that's it, all you'll need is a can of compressed air and a nozzle.
Found a very good illustrated "how-to" on cleaning dust out of your laptop:
I tried the two things that you recommended. At first, I thought that the quartz.dll solution would solve the problem. I was able to get through an entire 3.5 minute Youtube Video and about 6 minutes through a downloaded FLV file playing on the problematic .FLV player. However, eventually, FLVplayer encountered the usual problem. I think you may be right, it may be the CPU temp. But, for some reason, this tool cannot read my CPU temp. It gives me frequency, and HDD temp, as well as neat information about my battery, but not a CPU temp. However, I will try to clean the fans, etc. tomorrow night (because I have a night class tonight).
You have been extremely helpful so far. If there is anything else you can think of that might cause the problem other than an overheating CPU, please inform me. Also, is there any other tool I might try to monitor CPU heat? Lastly, last night, even MPlayer acted up when I was playing an MP3 and a WMA file. Do you think that if the CPU got hot enough, that even MPlayer would be affected?
Laptops are weird that way. Most are lacking in temperature sensors - probably because the end user would have a heart attack if they could see the numbers No sensor, no way to read the temperature. BTW, as a reference, the hard drive on my desktop reads 30 degrees C usually.
A couple of additional monitoring/throttling apps -
Please let us know if the compressed air technique works. A can of the stuff is $5.00. A friend has a $$$ Alienware system that used to shut down all the time, and after we cleaned the airways and slowed the AGP bus settings from 4X to 2X, he hasn't had a hiccup since. If there is a setting in your system bios to do the same to your AGP bus, do the same for testing.
The only other software related thing you could try is removing the Cyberlink software and disabling the codecs, many of which remain even if you uninstall the DVD player program. But I think we've determined that even using the self contained Mplayer program doesn't fully fix your issue.
Keep us all in the loop, 'mkay ?
I think that it worked!!! I cleaned it tonight with q-tips and a can of compressed air and was suprised by how much dust came out of my side exhaust fan. I was able to watch about 15 minutes of Youtube and another 20 minutes of downloaded FLV files on a formerly problematic player without a blip. Thanks for your advice and all of your help. I am only mad at myself for not thinking of trying this before I did a factory restore of my computer or when I upgraded my RAM at the beginning of December. Now, even when playing the video off of my hard drive for 20 minutes, it only got to 31.0 C, so that was the issue. Thanks again Soopafresh.
Cool. Hope it keeps working for you