Audio dropouts when recording

I have been using audacity on an HP laptop running windows 7 professional for a few years. Only within the last couple of weeks, I have started getting quite a bit of audio dropouts while recording. I have increased buffer size significantly and has not helped. Any ideas on how to figure out the cause and fix this would be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately there are many reasons why dropouts may occur. Some of the more common ones are described in these two articles: