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New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Dell Dimension 8400
Intel pentium 4  CPU 3.00 ghz,
299 ghz, 512 RAM
windows XP (home edition)  version 2002  w/Service pk 2
 
Two days after getting my new system, I had my first virtual memory
problem.   A 3-D screen saver I had installed would freeze up the entire system
after running for only 30 minutes or so.  (This is a completely compatible screen saver that I've used for years on an older computer, with half the RAM and processing speed).
 
Called Dell service, and the 'brilliant' guy there suggested I
"switch to a 2-D screen saver, and that should clear up the problem".
I answered with; "Ummm... No, thanks.  I expect this brand new $1400 machine to be able to handle screen savers..."
 
Then as the days went by and I installed a few of my necessary programs; like Norton Security, and my digital camera software, the virtual memory problems got worse.
To make a long, aggravating story easier for everyone, let's just say I tried everything both DELL and Microsoft suggests to 'fix' virtual memory problems...
 
I changed the VM settings to 1024 (both minimun and maximum)
I've checked repeatedly for updates and patches (and downloaded anything that came up, which wasn't much).
 
I've done the whole windows task manager thing, seeing which programs
were using up the big memory chunks... (many times it was my Norton security) and I would either temporarily disable things or turn them off completely.
Things would run better -- for a while.
 
Last night, I had some long term web surfing to do and was on the computer for at least an hour and a half.   Then got off the internet and had two message windows going (yahoo messenger and MSN messenger), and within 2 minutes I was lagging and freezing up. Norton firewall was turned OFF, I was only using the windows xp firewall now.
 
I simply can not understand how a machine as well loaded as this Dell 8400 is supposed to be cannot handle one quarter of the work load my old machine (that I upgraded myself over the years and had only a 1 gig processor and 256 RAM) could!   
 
I really wish I could have emailed this directly to DELL, instead of posting on a message board and waiting for a response, but I looked and looked and could not find an email address for support contact.  
While the phone support people at DELL were always polite,  I was very dissatisfied with the help I recieved, so I'd rather not waste my time going that route again.  (tried it 3 times as it is)
 
I hope I can get a fix for this problem, or perhaps the problem lies with "bad memory" sticks?  If this is the case, I certainly hope a free memory upgrade will be on it's way to me ASAP...
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11 Replies
parkerti
Gold

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Parrotlady123:

You have posted to a forum made up of other users who try to help each other (on this board it is general hardware problems). Dell won't monitor these boards and call people back. It sounds to me like you have bad memory as you suggested, or that you have inadvertantly installed some malware. You might need to go back through Dell service. Also have you tried system diagnostics to check the system under load? One other thing, I would go back to the system the way it came to you after backing up all your data on an external. There may be an issue with the older screen saver and newer hardware. Not really sure but from your post it sounds as if the downhill slippery slope started when you installed the screen saver. It might have really messed up the video drivers or something wierd like that. Free screen saver programs also come with bugs, spyware, etc. If your dimension is new and you want to go back to how it was out of the box, there is a way to do that already installed with your system but you will lose all of your data. So back up.

Message Edited by parkerti on 05-08-2005 09:13 AM

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Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Parkerti,

Thank you so much for replying to my post.  Smiley Happy

You made good suggestions, too.   However I've tried everything already.

In the 10 days I've had the computer, I've already restored back to day one - twice.  I've also restored another time by a couple of days to start back before other programs were installed.

It's not the screen saver alone.  Norton security also causes problems, so I disabled it permanently.  This doesn't make me very happy, because I paid for it, it's a new version, and I've used Norton products on much older systems and never had problems.  Also I'm having these lag problems and virtual memory shortages even when I'm doing nothing else but using a message program or on the internet for more than an hour or so; running nothing else.

I've scanned for malware, viruses and disk problems.   Everything comes out clean repeatedly.   I've used DELL's problem seeker/solver, and windows' fixes,  too.    It seems to be a memory problem... a *real* memory problem, not just a virtual memory problem.   Don't you agree?

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parkerti
Gold

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

I agree but only if it did all of this out of the box. When I spoke of going back to day one, I was referring to the Norton System restore partition on the system, not the Windows XP system restore points. If you have tried that ond you are only ten days into your purchase, return it and order another one. You have 21 days from when it shipped to return it. You will need to call in and speak with a customer care rep in order to get a return authorization. Time is of the essence if you decide to return it. I think it is either a faulty stick of RAM or your OS is flaked out. Best of luck!
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Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Hi

I agree with parkerti. It sounds like bad memory or could be  a bad motherboard[i mean bad memory slots on the motherboard].you can get a system exchange withing the 1st 21 days. try that. if you still want to stick to the same system then call dell tech support and ask them to replac ethe hard drive, motherbaord and memory for you. ask dell tech support to mention in their case that the above 3 components have gone bad. then get the case number frm them and give it to customer care and customer care will be replacing these parts for you iwth the help of an onsite tech.the reason being, if dell tech support replaces parts then they will be refurbished whereas if customer care replaces the parts then they will be brand new.

all the best.

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Bobsk8
Bronze

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

I think you will find that the support that Dell gives for the 8400 PC is dismal at best.  I am on my 2nd 8400 in 2 months and this latest version, like the first one they shipped started crashing within 20 minutes of powering it up.  It couldn't even to a Norton Scan of the hartddrive, as the Norton Install requested.  Any attempt to do a Live update resulted in Windows Explorer locking up.  THis is the 2nd PC that Dell has sent me in about 60 days that has exhibited one of the following problems.
 
1. Blue Screens of Death
2. Data Execution Protection shutting down Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer
3. Lock Ups galore
4. Weird behaviour of the Nvidia 6800 GT 256 Meg video card
5. Inability to run Norton Scan Disk or update Norton Antivirus
6. Reponse from Tech support that bordered on the ridiculous including claims that you can't be connected to the Internet with a "Antivirus Program On"
 
Do yourself a favor, if they don't resolve the problem before the 21 days ( and they will try to drag out the solution past that point), send the PC back and go buy something else.  I have 2 co-workers that are having the same issues with the 8400.  One co-worker can't use Outlook right out of the box , and another has had to replace the mother board after only 4 weeks. 
 
Good Luck
 
 
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wtcnbrwndo4u
Diamond

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

If you really dislike the issue, return it and go out and buy a kick PC from BestBuy or something. We went to HP basically ONLY because of Dell's not-so-great customer support.
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wtcnbrwndo4u
Diamond

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Also, try downloading Microsoft's AntiSpyware and running a full deep scan.
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Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Dell Dimension 8400
Intel pentium 4  CPU 3.00 ghz,
299 ghz, 512 RAM
windows XP (home edition)  version 2002  w/Service pk 2
 
 
UPDATE:  
 I've had the computer for almost 5 weeks now, and I'm absolutely disgusted with it.
After numerous calls (and hours on the phone) to DELL support, a few emails, a couple of chat support sessions,
AND two home visits from a Dell technician.... the vitual memory problem STILL continues.
 
The tech came to my home and replaced the hard drive.  Didn't help.
Second time he came he replaced the memory sticks.   Didn't help.
I finally got Dell to send me a Windows XP cd so I could try reinstalling and/or repairing the OS.  (Since the tech seemed to think this was probably the 'real problem').
Took almost 2 weeks and two phone calls, but I finally got the XP disc last week... repaired once, reinstalled once.  Didn't help.
Ran diagnostics along with support on the phone.  Everything passed.
Ran diagnostics on my own-  again everything passed.
Ran virus scans and malware scans, (several times!) everything clean as a whistle.
 
This is what I see happening:
 
As soon as I notice the computer slowing down or a lag time in chat messages,
I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and pull up the Task Manager window.
I check the processing tab and see that the "CPU USAGE"  is at 90% or more and rapidly rising.
I then look to see which process is using all the memory and it is ALWAYS the same
"svchost.exe    SYSTEM" process.   Peaking at more than 300,000k of memory!!

Now I admit, I'm not sure exactly what that svchost.exe process is... but when I highlight it,
and then click on "end process" the CPU usage drops down to single digits
immediately.
But then I no longer have Volume controls or Audio devices anywhere to be found on
the computer.
So, I'm making the assumption that perhaps this is either a problem with the
Audio/Video Card    -OR-    there is something radically wrong with the
motherboard and/or processing chip and it just cannot handle even normal demands of managing the computer's programs, hardware or memory. 
 
I'm totally disgusted... willing to try anything anyone might be able to suggest....
 
I have emailed (and called) DELL tonight and told them I'm at the point of demanding a new
system altogether!    I'm really disappointed in this "top of the line" 8400 series computer!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Bobsk8
Bronze

Re: New system (Dimension 8400) Virtual memory nightmare

Do yourself a big favor and get rid of that 8400 Now!!!  They will try and string you along past the 21 day return policy, and then you are up the creek as far as they are concerned.  If they won't exchange it with a brand new ( and I mean brand new with the same stuff you have on yours), get your money back and buy something else.  There are too many 8400s with problems like yours. I have 2 coworkers that have problems with theirs and did from the beginning.  Mine acted up continually from the day I turned it on, and they finally exchaged it.  At first they sent me a machine with cheaper memory and a slower processor, but I caught it when I read the packing slip and sent it right back.
 
Bob
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