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Why is my CPU running at 100 percent, when only three windows are open?!

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 7, 2010 7:24 AM PDT
Question:

Windows XP: Why is my CPU running at 100 percent, when only three windows are open?!


I run Windows XP (Home Edition)on my system and frequently find that the number of processes running can be as high as 63, with the CPU usage rising to 100 percent and a commit charge of 943M/2313M. I should add that this happens with only two or three windows open but minimized.

This completely takes over my PC and virtually brings it to a non-useful condition. Can anyone please tell me what can be done to help me safely bring the amount of processes down as I don't believe that all 63 are needed? Many thanks and kind regards.

--Submitted by Patrick N. , London, United Kingdom

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Troubleshooting a slow PC --Submitted by Droid
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300604#3300604

Why is my CPU running at 100 percent --Submitted by Fatboy71
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300624#3300624

Runaway processes... --Submitted by Wolfie2k5
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300738#3300738

Check your processes & scan for viruses --Submitted by si
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300796#3300796

Try an "empty" start --Submitted by TreknologyNet
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300935#3300935

CPU at 100% running answer --Submitted by seking0011
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6142_102-0.html?messageID=3300931#3300931

Thank you to all who contributed!


If you have some additional recommendations or advice for Patrick, please click on the reply link and submit it. Please be as detailed as possbile when providing a solution. Thanks!
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Bogged down cpu

If any of the windows have flash running that alone can bog it down.

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your cpu runinig a 100%,the reason can be?
by burebista gelu / May 14, 2010 3:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Bogged down cpu

CPU running at 100 % you pc is charged with too much programms and to heavy,must of the people by a pc with any knowlege about hardware:how speed is my cpu,how many cors,memory RAM is to slow or to small amount for example is imposible to runn a pc so faster whe inside is a pentium 3.4 compare to cuore 2 of quad core memory at 533 mhz-800mhz;small memory 512-1gb,compare to minimum 2gb-4gb,2gb is minimum for windows 7 speed minimum 800ghz,beter higher for quad core,an other reason is to much programs open in the same time en not using a demon tools for a cpu it is to much you can use manny twiker as tune up,system mechanic,windows 7 manager,to refresh you memory,virtual memory not enough push you cpu to work harder and to block you pc when is at 100%?FREE YOUR PC make not a wall of icons,make a map put all the icons toghether in the map,not moore than 5 icons,not 2 antivirus of internet security on the same pc that make conflict and block you pc,not download large filles and open to much programs at same time ideal is not more than 8,dont try to open skype,yahoo,facebook,twiter,hi5,hotmail,and download in the same time,buy a strong pc if you want this you have monney ok,you need at least a quad core or a i5-i7 cuore 2 of quad core,memory min 2gb at 1066mhz speed bus of higher see how much you motherbord can get,and you see ,you can open like i due 8 programs and my cpu is at 4%,but i have a quad cuore with a speed bus 3 ghz ,memory 8 gb at speed bus 1600mhz and a super cooler for my cpu how nearly frozen my cpu,temperature of my cpu is below 25

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CPU running
by fmmt47 / May 15, 2010 2:37 AM PDT

Check your startup menu and remove any programs (do not remove any Windows or anti-virus programs) from "startup" mode. A good program to use is CCleaner, its free and is simpler to remove some of your programs from startup. Programs removed from startup will still run but on an as need basis. If you download a lot of programs, several programs may be running in the background when they open on the startup menu and possibly cookies or worse yet, spyware which can really bog down yur computer...There are other issues that may cause CPU to run too many programs but I will leave that up to the Windows experts. Seems like Windows 7 still has some bugs to be worked out
FMMT47

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CPU@100%-Best Fix - Increasing the amount of installed RAM
by sal9000doll / May 15, 2010 12:58 PM PDT

Since I have the same problem - a PC running Windows XP, (laptop in my case) all filled up with just 3 pages loaded(cpu at 100%), and would like to try increasing the speed and capacity by increasing the installed RAM (Administrator's suggestion) which I've been told by more than one computer tech is the best fix of all, and is probably a very similar deal for any computer - to explore an easy way to increase the installed RAM. If it's an older computer whose hardware is also probably no longer supported by it's manufacturer as mine is not (probable since all newer computers HAVE way more RAM than previous models, and a computer with only 256KB RAM is probably an older computer). I would like to include a question in this thread about finding and installing more RAM for my 7 year old laptop which ALSO has only 256KB RAM installed and also, CPU frequently at 100% when 3 or more pages are loaded. This exercise should make it easier for anyone to explore increasing the installed RAM of their computer. Here's my info and question~:

My Dell Latitude, C610 Laptop, running Windows XP also, frequently shows the cpu at 100% with only 3 pages loaded because it only has one 256KB chip for RAM. I was recently told by a Laptop tech(who could be mistaken about expansion slots) that by carefully plugging in another 256KB RAM chip into the empty chip socket that should be on the same card as the original pre-existing 256KB RAM chip, will increase my computer to 512KB RAM, and will double the speed and capacity of my computer. And that in order to increase to the next faster speed and capacity level than that, an expansion board has to be added which will have two empty chip sockets so that one or two more 256KB RAM Chips can be plugged into the sockets to achieve, respectively, 768KB RAM or 1024KB installed RAM, thereby achieving the maximum capacity and speed possible for my particular model, a Dell Latitude C610 running Windows XP.

I did a search for a 256KB RAM Chip on craigslist (all for sale) and found only 2 listings which I copied and pasted here:

1.["Upgraded the memory in my Dell Dimension 3000, want to sell the old memory card for whatever I can get.
One 256K, standard size memory card for Dell desktop. $10/offer."]
I asked: Are there two existing chip sockets side by side on the board, one chip socket with a 256KB RAM chip plugged into it , and the other chip socket empty? He replied back:
One 256K, standard size memory card for Dell desktop. $10/offer.
I m selling the 256K card by itself. It came out of one socket. The other had a different card in it.
(the term circuit card and circuit board mean the same thing, but I should have called it a card as he did, because he didn't understand my question)That's ok. My question to forum reader experts on this would be: Since the card from a desktop might not fit in a laptop anyway, carefully extracting the 256KB chip from it's chip socket to plug into the extra, empty chip socket that's SUPPOSED to be on the same card where my existing 256KB RAM chip is installed may be the only viable option here. Anyone know for sure? (Hopefully my tech 'friend' was right about the Dell Latitude C610 Laptop having a standard empty chip socket on the same card as the original, initial, pre-installed 256KB RAM chip in order to increase to 512KB installed RAM)That's all I probably need to enable this C610 Laptop to run with acceptable capacity and speed at least for a backup computer.
The 2nd listing is:
2. ["Laptop Replacement Parts
DELL Inspiron 4100 - LCD Screen, K pad, Battery, RAM available
DELL Inspiron 9300 - K pad, Battery, RAM available"]

Again, my background info and question to the CNET Forum on this thread about increasing capacity and speed, in this case by increasing the installed RAM (Administrator's suggestion) and in this particular case doing it inexpensively for an older "backup" laptop is:

I haven't looked inside my DELL Latitude C610 Laptop yet, but used to do mainly hardware fixes of IBM and Compaq PC's (among various other equipment on my job as a field tech). I was told recently by a laptop tech(who could be mistaken) that my DELL Latitude C610 laptop, running Windows XP, should have, on the same card with it's only installed 256KB RAM chip on it, an empty socket on the card where another 256KB RAM chip can be (carefully) pressed into the socket to expand it's RAM from 256KB to 512KB RAM which would double it's capacity and speed. And the tech said (maaybee on the phone without realizing it is a Dell laptop, not a Dell desktop)that there should be an empty slot for another expansion card to be added with 2 more chip sockets so that one or two more 256KB RAM chips can then be also added to increase the RAM to 768RAM or 1024KB RAM, respectively. Does anyone know if a card with one 256KB RAM chip in it from a DELL Dimension 3000 Desktop could fit in my DELL Latitude C610 Laptop's possible expansion slot to increase it's RAM from 256KB to 512KB RAM(Can I find out which slot would be the correct slot by looking up Dell Latitude C610 Laptop Motherboard configuration in Sam's schematics or some other source of schematics since it's no longer supported by Dell?- or what? and if there is an empty chip socket on the card with the original pre-installed 256KB RAM chip, would just leaving that chip socket empty be ok in that case?(If anyone has an informed answer or info about any part or portion of the questions I pose, please just reply that particular portion answer-Thanks!) Or would any of the offered 256KB RAM chips (hopefully all in chip sockets on their original cards)probably have to be carefully taken out of their chip sockets and inserted into the supposedly empty chip socket that should be on the same card with the original initial single 256KB RAM chip as the only viable option? ALSO, if I install any of these options (MOST LIKELY, I WILL ONLY INSTALL ONE EXTRA 256KB CHIP AND MAINLY WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO THAT CORRECTLY, INCLUDING ANY PROGRAMING CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE DONE AFTERWARDS.) SO, if I am able to do the simplest installation of an additional 256KB RAM chip to increase my RAM TO 512KB RAM, and as long as I have properly plugged it into the correct slot that is prewired in the C610 laptop to be the place for the first additional 256KB RAM chip to be installed, is the only thing I have to do in software, to use the install hardware wizard, which will guide me through anything I need to set in the software to adjust my Windows XP operating system to utilize the expanded RAM?
BTW, is a RAM chip easily ruined if you have static electricity on your hands, clothing, or etc. and accidentally touch the metal pins to it? I have a static electricity removing wristband that clips to a ground connection. Also, are the original 256KB RAM chips that come already installed on a laptop or desktop computer, usually soldered straight into the circuit board/card so that if you want to extract the chip to install into a circuit board/card from another computer or laptop, it will require a good soldering technique, good solder sucker, and a lot of care not to bend the metal legs while extracting it from the old card so it will fit properly into the new card? (To Helpful Repliers: Please remember to include the "L" in the word solder, because if you spell it the way American techs pronounce the word "solder", which although proper for American techs, would be a profanity in British English and might offend the British host of this thread, (Can't see it from the page I'm on now) I believe it said he resides in London, UK )who might be a young boy for all we know. British Techs always pronounce the "L" in the word solder;)
(BTW: I'm tracking this thread, so I will get emails of new replies with answers added to this thread (a wonderful feature of CNET forums)and Thanks in Advance for replies from anyone with good answers to this question about increasing installed RAM inexpensively:)

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old computers-100%cpu
by nmrabbit / May 15, 2010 1:30 PM PDT

My Dell is a 2003 2350 XP. Biggest HD I could find was from Geeks.com 120G Had 27G and Ram was 256-added 256 and all mine would take is 1024 or 1G which I installed. I added a new CDRW and DVD.
Some old computers donot have the capacity to rebuild much. Sometimes that old car just wears out or you can't find parts anymore without spending more than it's worth. Computers are cheap nowdays and there is so many free programs to choose from. When I received my new DELL I deleted over half of the programs installed because I had no use for them. The brains are wearing out on this one, but I can cheaply rebuild them.

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memory upgrades

upon reviewing the lattitude C610 specs http://www.tkoeducation.com/TkoEducation/DELL%20Latitude%20C610%20Specifications.mht

the computer supports a maximum of 1gb of ram.

anyone who tells you you can add additional memory slots to a laptop is for all practical purposes trying to sell you a line of bologny.

this laptop like most modern laptops has 2 memory expansion slots,
these expansion slots will support 128mb, 256 mb, and 512 mb memory sticks (modules). memory modules are not upgradable but they are replacable. in order to MAX out this laptop, the existing 1 256 mb moduel would need to be removed, and 2 compatable 512 mb memory modules installed into the 2 memory expansion slots.

now I will say that I personally am somewhat fanitical about memory because performance seriously ties back to the memory.

my perasonaly experience with memory upgrades demonstrates performance jumps like this:

under windows xp, upgrading from 256 mb to 512 ram CAN give as much as a 4x to 8x boost in performance.
upgrading from 512 mb ram to 1024 mb (1gb) can give as much as a 2x to a 4x boost

upgrading from 1024 mb to 2048 mb (2 gb) can give as much as a 1x to 2x boost.

there are a lot of factors that modify these performance estimates so results may vary a LOT.

what this means is a 256mb to a 1gb upgrade CAN give as much as ~8x to 32x boot in performance

now where I work we recommend a MINIMUM of 1024 (1 gb) ram for optimal performance under xp with the note that more is better up to the limits of the hardware or software.

thats right, not all computers are made equal some will only support 512 mb, 1024 mb, 2048 mb, 3072 mb, 4096 mb or more aome new computers will support as much as 4, 6, 8, or even 16 gb of ram. but here is the big gotcha, ig you are running 32bit windows it will NEVER support more than ~3.0-3.5 gb of ram, if you want to use more than that you need to upgrade to a 64 bit OS

and I have another rule of thumb based on my experience.

computers are really good for somewhere between 3 and 5 years typically, after that you may want to consider weather it may be better in the long run to just buy a newer computer rather than trying to upgrade an older unit which may never be upgradable beyond ok to fair.

IE looking at that lattitude c610 it maxes out at 1gb ram, probabally has a 40gb or smaller hard drive and has an old single core cpu.

for ~$300-400 you can get a new stock pc with typically: windows 7, 2-4 gb ram, 200-320 gb hard drive or larger and often a dual core processor.

now I am not saying that everyone should automatically replace their computer every 3 years, but I will say that you should evaluate the cost of an upgrade vs replacement so that you can make an informed decision.

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To seewaht your PC has for RAM and what it can hold
by davejyd / June 4, 2010 3:43 AM PDT
In reply to: memory upgrades

To see waht your PC or Laptop has for RAM, and what the max it can hold, go to www.crucial.com and run their scanner. The resulte will show you what RAM you have, the Max RAM your machine will hold, and also (after all, they sell it) give you some options for purchasing RAM from them. The Scanner is free, and works on all versions of Windows, and is a great tool for diagnosing PC problems to eliminate or confirm amount of RAM as a possible problem/solution

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Dell Latitude C610 Memory
by ChrisK1 / May 17, 2010 7:33 AM PDT

Well, I don't have a whole bunch of time compared to the length of your message right now, but I looked up your memory.

You have two memory slots. One of them already has a DIMM plugged into it, probably 128 megs. You can replace it with or add one of the following. Try to get the most "bang for the buck, of course, and remember once you have both slots filled, you're done, so make sure you get (a) big enough module(s).

512MB (1X512MB) PC133 NONECC UNBUFFERED 144 PIN SDRAM SODIMM

or

256MB (1X256MB) PC133 NONECC UNBUFFERED 144 PIN SDRAM SODIMM

or

128MB (1X128MB) PC133 NONECC UNBUFFERED 144 PIN SDRAM SODIMM

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Bogged down CPU
by El Tel / May 14, 2010 7:19 PM PDT
In reply to: Bogged down cpu

Hi.
This can be summed up in one word "Adverts" even when I visit "cnet" my CPU runs at 70~85% more than normal.
Regards
El Tel

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Why 100% CPU
by nmrabbit / May 15, 2010 2:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Bogged down CPU

I have found out that when I use IE 8 that I bogged down most of the time. Even after going to Options and deleting all cookies, history etc. + open computer properties and cleaning the HD. I only got 100% CPU when on the internet surfing. I would open a site then try and open other sites under the first heading and it would lock up. I uninstalled IE 8 and reinstalled IE7. It seems that IE8 usesage was using too much Mem. I have 1G. Also When I defrag I do it 3-4 times in a row. It seems to help. I run Spybot 2X aweek and then RegFix This clears away a lot of garbage. If you have more than 25 processes starting up when you startup-- thats too many.

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cpu running 100% at times and causing cpu to get hot
by alanmckeon / May 16, 2010 6:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Why 100% CPU

when using ie 8 and securities essentials together sometimes they conflict with each other and causes cpu to burn up if left on too long
uninstall se and the problem stops.
eighter se or ie8 need to correct this problem.
alanmckeon@att.net

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What you are seeing is normal .... and not

Well, the number of processes running in my system right now (with everything shut down except my web browser (I have to write this on something !!) is over 40. Again, with everything shut down except the web browser (IE 7).

The number of processes that you are seeing is a tad high but not really all that unusual. That, in itself, is not the problem. The problem, more likely, is that one of the processes has gone to an extremely high useage level (while, on the other hand, the useage level for many others is 0.0%, which is why the number, by itself, isn't so alarming).

If you open task manager, in the 3rd column (may vary) you will find "CPU", which is the CPU usage of each task. If you click on that column heading, it will sort the tasks by their CPU usage and you can see which task(s) is/are causing the problem.

So that gives you a tool to help in figuring this out.

One thing that can happen is that what's killing you is memory swapping (to and from disk) because you don't have enough physical memory (RAM). (that doesn't look like your problem, however)

Try to figure out what is running in your system, since, as a general rule, the less the better. Two tools to do this are "MSCONFIG" (start / run / msconfig) and System Information (start / programs / accessories / system tools / system information) (and, then, software environment / startup programs). MSCONFIG will allow you to keep programs from starting at system start.

If you see something that you don't recognize in any of these tools, a google search is your friend and will usually tell you what the item is.

Security software can be a killer. If you are using any free product, I'd recommend that you remove it and instead use just the Windows Firewall (SP2 or SP3) and MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials). If you are using a paid product, fine, but you might want to do some research on whether it's really better than MSE, because aside from having the lowest cost and being one of the best security programs, MSE also has among the lowest resource footprints of any security suite. It is a very good (if perhaps not the best) security software.


Another useful tool here that has been discussed before

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Windows XP: Why is my CPU running at 100 percent,

I would go through the processes one at a time and google them to see if they are relevant to your situation. Also kill off any indexing processes that may be cataloguing your photos or music etc. These can take an extraordinary amount of CPU depending on how they have been implemented. Its a long and tedious process. The alternative is to do a clean build of only the applications and utilities you are using.
I have found registry cleaners make little difference but in some situations (indexing) disk de fragmenting may help.
There are tools to help like advanced uninstaller then go through the startup applications or MSCONFIG and go through the startup TAB removing anything that is irrelevant then RESTART and look at how many processes are left

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Cause your Processor is working too hard!!!
by kiri_treme / May 14, 2010 3:38 PM PDT

Your proccesor must be having a low Ghz running speed. To overcome this you must change your processor. This normally happen to AMD processors when you use it too much even if it's proccesor is more than 2.93 GHz.

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AMD Processors
by gizmo6257 / May 14, 2010 8:29 PM PDT

The guy they said the problem was because he had a AMD is why out of line. AMD CPU's are faster and actully can handle more processes than a Intel CPU. I guess he is one of those AMD haters because he likes paying the big bucks for the over rated Intel's. I build computers for a living, and I have used every CPU on the market and AMD will out perform Intell all day if you buy the right CPU. And about one third or half the price. I built a computer the other dsy with a AMD Phenom II 3.0 cpu and it multitask everything on my computer and still was at 62 percent. You probally have spyware affecting your computer causes it to run like that.

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Agree
by MadDog843 / May 16, 2010 8:26 AM PDT
In reply to: AMD Processors

I have to agree I also prefer the AMD's I have three (Ahtlon XP 2200+ @1.8Ghz, Sempron 3100+ @ 1.8Ghz, and AMD Live! 64x2 5600+ Dual Core @ 2.8Ghz) All three (From 2002-2007 Production Years) Out perform all the Intels I have ever owned. That's why I bought this HP Pavilion I did with a Dual-Core AMD over the New Quad-Core Intels at the time. Nothing against the Intels but the AMD's have done me amazingly good!

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A Dell and No Norton!!!!
by philw19642002 / May 17, 2010 8:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Agree

Dude, with no brains, you are really asking for trouble using that garbage aren't you? Good Luck with the Junk!!

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NORTON BE GONE
by STEVEDOAKMD / May 17, 2010 6:28 PM PDT
In reply to: AMD Processors

I would take anything labeled Norton off. Norton anti-virus and whatever else was on board has brought computers of mine to their knees more than once, more times than I care to remember and each time it took me a long time to realize what the problem was. There have been at least two times over the years when even a competent service tech was not able to get machines going, under warranty, even once replacing the CPU, then the memory, then the mother-board on a Toshiba laptop even now sitting here as my third backup. Finally I everything labeled Norton off and would not think of ever using that brand again.

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What
by philw19642002 / May 17, 2010 6:40 PM PDT
In reply to: NORTON BE GONE

Apparently you do not know what you are doing. You are the very first person in ten years of me being a Computer IT to hear anyone say anything bad about Norton. Must like virus fishing hey!!

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NORTON ~ UGH
by Randy Walter / May 17, 2010 8:01 PM PDT
In reply to: What

Well, mister IT genius, now you have two people that think NORTON is bogware! My DELL came with NORTON from the factory and was it ever slow. MS ESSENTIALS is much better.

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Unfortunately I agree.
by TreknologyNet / May 18, 2010 6:25 AM PDT
In reply to: NORTON ~ UGH

When Norton meant "Peter Norton", the products were neat, clean and mean. You can't blame a guy for saying "Gee, that's a good $offer, I'm out of this game."

Sadly for the rest of us, the "product" that now carries his name generally sux!

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norton be gone
by Random Pilot / May 20, 2010 12:24 PM PDT
In reply to: NORTON BE GONE

I beg to differ with you and the way you feel about Norton, I had Live one care and it sucked and was killed in the end along with my computer hard drive! Avast shut one down and now nobody can get it to do anything! If you are replacing all of these parts you need to go to school or something, Why? you ask? because just guessing at a problem only costs alot more in the end!

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Hidden

It could be spyware or adware as these programs also have to to have some processing power. Even some type of key logger program. Try running all your anti stuff to get rid of it.

It could also be something that has just recently updated itself (you know how things like to update automatically in XP). Perhaps some new feature was added that is slowing things down. Also, it could be something you installed yourself, even if it's hardware, some type of software must accompany it. Restoring to a previous state may clear things up; however, I'm not sure if that replaces the old files to the new updated files.

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CPU Usage

Sounds to me like you have too much in your start up.
Click on run, type msconfig in box.
When open choose selective start up, click start up tab and view what is ticked off and decide what you really need, such as security, printer options. All these run int the background and use resources.
The least amount of desk top shortcut on your desk top is also best too!
Hope this helps you!

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Don't use selective startup!
by TheLostTruckDriver / May 7, 2010 11:54 PM PDT
In reply to: CPU Usage

I used to do that. It opened a door for malware. Use EF Startup Manager or something. The guys at Majorgeeks helped me through my situation. If it's Malware, you want to check out the Malware Removal Guide there. You will get some useful advice.

My advice though, is take a Saturday or whenever you have time and restore your system. Reinstall everything, get updates, etc. Turn off system restore, page files and do a backup with PING (Linux boot disc but really good). Back up your clean installation with it, it also backs up your BIOS.

Look! The time you spend trying to fix problems is gone. You can restore your boot drive in a few minutes and start from before everything was bogging down. Make sure you save new files on a different partition that the one you restore to (no more My Documents, stop being lazy and change the directory).

Trust me, I have to run around to 4 (at one time 5) computers fixing everyone's problems. Now I just tell everyone to backup any files they've added then do a PING. Works great for when you want to save a different OS (say you miss Windows XP and Windows 7 just wasn't doing it for you).

And everything ALWAYS RUNS awesome. The way it should.

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Use selective start up!
by pauly1651 / May 16, 2010 1:49 AM PDT

Listen, I use selective start up, along with Malwarebytes, and Avast anti virus, and have had zero problems with malware etc. Selective start up can be a good tool to help eliminate unwanted, and unneeded bloatware that is running in the background! Just use it RIGHT!

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help with windows xp home
by cashew55 / May 16, 2010 7:06 PM PDT

i have home edition 2400 pc dell its 5 yrs old, i did a whole reinstall as spywarehammer told me too, because my IE would keep getting error reports stating that it had to close because of an error so i redid it, well it still does it just as bad even after reinstall, it just did it as i am writting here 3 times it says it saved the tab so i can continue yet it is very annoying. Anyway i need to know what would make it do this? I have all the updates do i uninstall IE8 and reinstall it? or what i need it to play msn games, i like to play spades, I always get kicked off that at least 4 times during one game till i just give up, i need to now what could do this? is it the explorere? or is it a drive? how do i find out? i have bing, msn browser, and IE8 browser thats it oh and google browser. so why cant i enjoy my pc anymore? spyware says they dont want to help me anymore, ya that figures, they tell me to reinstall the whole computer wipe it out and then i tell them it is still doing the same thing they say they cant help. so i have no where to turn but here i hope. I need a proffesional excusse spelling i am typing fast so i dont get booted off, i have quest DSL and they say it isnt them so i dont know what to do anymore, nobody else gets booted, I thought it was my antivirus AVG so i took it off and put on AVAST people say it isnt so invasive yet it still or something still knocks me off, its just so upsetting to write to people and then have to start over after it says "this page has been saved" big deal i still have to start over, and then other times it'll say error send error report I must of sent 80 a day why send them, they do nothing? could my bios be set wrong? i know nothing about that but is there something that anyone with knowlege could help me with ? thanks email me please

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Windows XP: Why is my CPU running at 100 percent, when only

This sounds very much like an Anti-Virus programme running in the background to me. I've had the same problem while having "CA Internet Security Suite 2009" installed and this used to slow my PC down to such an extent, that is was totally unusable.
You don't state which AV you have, but a lot of them are resource hogs.

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Check taskmanager to find the process.

Patrick, it would be really important to know which applications those 3 windows represent. Also you need to check if you have this cpu spike when you first turn on your computer. The first thing you really need to do is go into the taskmanager (right click on taskbar or hit ctrl+alt+del) and then go the "process" tab, then sort with cpu and "show processes from all users" this should show which executable is responsible for the spike. while you are in taskmanager, shut down each of the application windows and see if the performance improves. If your problem with one application, then you may need to "repair" the applications from add, remove programs in the control panel. You may even try to create a new account to login into because the current account as gotten corrupted. I don't know your skill set regarding technical work so I don't want you to wreck your machine.
Sometimes antivirus programs can cause this problem, or you may have inadvertantly compressed or encrypted your hard drive. I have seen different things drive up the cpu usage. Also spyware or google, yahoo, or viewpoint toolbars can cause problems; but, the first thing is to find out which process is spiking. Good Luck.

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Could be a virus

Try getting a new antivirus software, such as McAfee, Norton Antivirus, Kaspersky, or AVG.

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