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Why does unplugging my computer fix things?

robotsunshinerobotsunshine regular
edited July 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Whenever I go to play video on this computer, the audio's just fine, but the video is choppy and stuttery. This is usually only with flash stuff, like hulu or youtube (the latter, i can let it load all the way and then it's fine, but no help for the former).

Every now and then, a downloaded video will cause this issue too, but this is pretty rare.

Weird thing is, if I turn off the computer and unplug it from the wall for a length of time, then plug it back in, turn it on, video seems to work just fine (except for hulu, anyway). But it give it a couple of days and we're back to crap.

what the hell

robotsunshine on

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    Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I doubt unplugging it has any effect--you may be giving yourself a Pavlovian.

    Is this a laptop? If so, it could be heat. A lot of lappys have heat issues do to their design, so you'd be SOL for a long-term solution, aside from never leaving it on for more than a couple of hours at a time.

    Is this a desktop? Could also be heat... open the side panel and check for dust errywhere. Get a can of compressed air (usually about $7 at Radio Shack) and blow everything out. Hold the fans in place when you blow on them.

    May as well give 'er a spyware/virus scan while you're at it.

    Seattle Thread on
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    BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Well unplugging it has the effect of clearing all the volatile memory, I think. Normally the computer draws a small amount of power to hold some of it. I think.

    But in any event, I too think it's a red herring. Does turning it off without unplugging for a length of time fix it? I'm not so sure heat is the problem. When you run it and it's screwing up your videos, can you still, say, go play a graphically intensive game without a problem? If so, and leaving it off for a while, unplugged or no, fixes it, I'd say heat.

    But since you said downloaded videos (usually) work, as do fully loaded youtube videos, I'd wager it's a connection issue.

    BlochWave on
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    PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    I suspect you have a resident application with a memory leak, ie your antivirus is eating memory and forcing other apps to hit the page file repeatedly. Web browsers are really notorious for this, too. The fun part of z memory leak is that even shutting down the responsible app might not free anything either.

    Rebooting however, always will. So, check for patches for anything you frequently leave running. Media players, browsers, AV software, etc.

    Pheezer on
    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
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    robotsunshinerobotsunshine regular
    edited July 2009
    Makershot wrote: »
    I doubt unplugging it has any effect--you may be giving yourself a Pavlovian.

    Is this a laptop? If so, it could be heat. A lot of lappys have heat issues do to their design, so you'd be SOL for a long-term solution, aside from never leaving it on for more than a couple of hours at a time.

    Is this a desktop? Could also be heat... open the side panel and check for dust errywhere. Get a can of compressed air (usually about $7 at Radio Shack) and blow everything out. Hold the fans in place when you blow on them.

    May as well give 'er a spyware/virus scan while you're at it.

    Already went ahead with the spyware and virus scan. Results were comforting.

    It is a desktop, and speaking of heat, I had an issue with the computer overheating quite badly and shutting off, giving me some warning about the computer's temperature some months ago. I've since stuck a small fan blowing directly on the side of the tower, which has eliminated the problem completely. But just FYI.
    Well unplugging it has the effect of clearing all the volatile memory, I think. Normally the computer draws a small amount of power to hold some of it. I think.

    But in any event, I too think it's a red herring. Does turning it off without unplugging for a length of time fix it? I'm not so sure heat is the problem. When you run it and it's screwing up your videos, can you still, say, go play a graphically intensive game without a problem? If so, and leaving it off for a while, unplugged or no, fixes it, I'd say heat.

    But since you said downloaded videos (usually) work, as do fully loaded youtube videos, I'd wager it's a connection issue.

    You know, I'm not sure. The only time I've had it off for a significant amount of time is when it was unplugged, so I'll check on that. The reason I assumed unplugging had something to do with it is because it's only seemed to happen after unplugging, that there's a slight boost in performance. But I guess that could be a number of other things happening at the same time. Again, I'll try it out.

    The computer's pretty old, so I can run what's considered graphically intense for it without problems. There's an occasional stutter or chop in some odd cases, but like I said, those are extremely rare and are usually solved by a reboot and giving it some time without running anything.

    I'll also open it up and check for dust, because I can't remember the last time the thing was opened. Who knows what's going on in there.

    I've had the computer here on a wireless connection forever, maybe a better connection / being wired might help?
    So, check for patches for anything you frequently leave running. Media players, browsers, AV software, etc.

    Just caught this - really, the only thing I leave on is avast antivirus, which I'm going to check on now.

    robotsunshine on
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    CFluxCFlux Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It easily could be a sign of a failing power supply. As the power supply gets hot its circuitry will get further and further out of spec. Having the power rails acting up will first manifest itself when the computer is under load.

    If this is your problem stress tests like pcmark/3dmark may show issues as well. Just another avenue you may want to consider for your debug.

    CFlux on
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    ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Since you're ruling out software issues (spyware, viruses, over-acheiving antivirus programs), it's probably heat or a failing power supply (or both). What you mentioned about the heat is telling - what part was breaking? Perhaps your CPU fan isn't spinning anymore, and so is only cooled passively by the heatsink. That would explain why mounting a fan helped.

    Apogee on
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    WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    My guess would be heat - unplugging it gives it time to cool down, and then you start getting problems once it heats up again. I had basically the same problem with a stick of RAM, only worked cold. I couldn't figure out why my computer worked so much better in the morning than in the afternoon. I'd check the RAM, if I were you.

    Wezoin on
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    SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    More or less what everybody else has said- see if you get the same boost after a simple reboot, and if not, then signs point to a heat issue.

    Sarcastro on
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