DLL compatibility issue? CLI EXE slow to start and run on some PCs

I have an EXE file from “ExeOutput for PHP 2020.2” that works nearly everywhere, but on a small number of Windows 10 PCs shows application errors. The EXE is command line execution only (no graphical UI, just print statements.)

The first symptom is that the EXE is extremely slow to start - it hangs for about 12 seconds before the first line of code is executed (print statement saying the software is starting). After that, while the EXE is running, it seems that some other PC activity becomes extremely sluggish (but it’s hard to tell, because the misbehaving PHP EXE is affecting the expected chain of events). Task Manager does not show any significant loads (CPU, memory, disk, etc are all showing low usage percentages.)

Windows Event Viewer shows “application error” events with this signature:

Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x000cf6ea
Faulting application path: (path) php.exe
Faulting module path: (path) exophpext.dll

The reference to the DLL in Event Viewer, and the fact that the software hangs before running any PHP code, makes me wonder if there is some kind of compatibility issue between Windows and this DLL. Has anyone seen a similar symptom? Do the exception and fault details point to anything?

I’m aware that there are newer versions of the compiler. But looking at the changelog did not (at least in my review) point to anything obvious that might have been patched to cause such a symptom, and I don’t have access to the newest compiler. And since the EXE is working nearly everywhere, I’m more suspicious of some kind of Windows environment issue (compatibility, not a general problem).

Right now I have no leads, and can only tell customers that their new PCs are not able to run the software, without being able to say how to spec a PC that will work.

The affected PCs are Dell Inc. OptiPlex 7000 running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 10.0.19045 N/A Build 19045

Check the anti-virus software. We had an issue like this few years back on school network. Small number for desktops ran slow when starting app up and it ended up be anti-virus related. I also heard something about the firewall blocking some activity. Strange that some desktops did not have issue, but others did, took our IT about half a year to solve.

I recall them also saying something about graphics drivers needed updating.

I have a Dell 7040 bought renewed from Amazon. Running it at home using Windows 10 and standards Windows security, no issues with exeout apps startup for me.

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That’s a good suggestion - anti-virus has been the cause of so much trouble over the years. In this case, my understanding is that there’s no anti-virus on the PCs, security is only the PCs Windows native firewall and security features. The EXE does have the ability to access the network, so there could be a DLL setup issue related to network protectiveness … but the stall happens even when the executed code doesn’t use the network.

The graphics driver idea is also good. For other readers, I’ve also run into this kind of cause, in situations where a graphics system would seem irrelevant. I think updating graphics drivers is on our standard PC setup checklist to Avoid Trouble, but I’ll ask about that specifically to verify.

But since I think these PCs have already cleared both those possible causes (unless there’s something new or obscure in Windows security), I welcome any other suggested causes that readers may have.

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