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


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

Why is my CPU running at 100 percent --Submitted by Fatboy71

Runaway processes... --Submitted by Wolfie2k5

Check your processes & scan for viruses --Submitted by si

Try an "empty" start --Submitted by TreknologyNet

CPU at 100% running answer --Submitted by seking0011

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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CPU running at 100%.

In reply to: Why is my CPU running at 100 percent, when only three windo

I had this problem for some time and could not resolve it. I did discover some processes were running in duplicate useing large amounts of memory. Deleting the duplicates did not seem to help. Eventually I reloaded my operating system and all software and now my computer is back to normal.

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Cpu at 100 % running answer

There are several factor why a p.c. will be running that high,
i am a pc repair men i have seen these problem over and over again
with customer who bring there computers with similar symptoms
this problems are cause because of the user and in some rare ocaccion because of the p.c. but most are user error.
but here goes the list of why the 100 percent issue.
1.virus infection (most common)
2.running apps in the background (2nd most common)
3.hijacked browser (3rd most common)
4.memory leak or upgraded memory from low to high
5.obstructed cooling ventholes
6.corrupted O/S or registry
7.incompatible software or hardware (least common)
8.litle ram memory or defective
9.three or more windows running a 3D graphics or high cpu usage
10.faulty motherboard component

On # 1.
A virus infection will make your computer run
at a high cpu percentage and in if is not fix on time it will damaged
your computer sometimes beyond reasonable price repair.
most of the time the virus infection comes thru an e-mail,
and while visiting porn sites or P2P networks like limewire.
On # 2.
Most people do not know they have all sorts of things running in the background for example,
Itunes,photoshop,P2P network,Antivirus,e.t.c.
On # 3.
When installing free stuff from the internet most of the time this stuff has spyware or malware,people tend to do this thing because they think they are getting it for free, but in reality when your p.c.
requires service you end up paying a lot more and at the end the stuff you installed must be uninstall to make your p.c. work.
On # 4.
Memory plays an important role on how your p.c. performs,
if you have a memory leak your p.c. run at a high cpu rate
follow this example try to fill a cup with water with a hole at the bottom,impossible right? well the same is with a memory leak.
the same goes when people upgrade the ram from lower to higher
the p.c. must be reconfigured and sometimes due a clean install of the O/S for the new memory to work properly.

for the rest of the guide from 5 to 10 they are self explanatory

i hope this info will help you find the solution to your problem.

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Memory Leak?

In reply to: Cpu at 100 % running answer

I have never had this issue in over ten years. As long as you do not place too much RAM that your OS can not handle this should never occur. I have all my PCs maxed out at their OSs limit and never see 100% CPU usage. Can you please explain exactly what you mean by Memory Leakage?
Thanks, Phil

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cpu running 100%

In reply to: Cpu at 100 % running answer

once in a while my xp system cpu runs at 100% and cpu gets hot and i am running security essentials and ie8.
i used task manager and saw ie at 42% and se at 58% running.
when i removed se it went back to 0% useage.
i tried it back and forth several times and it did the same.
i switched to avg and it works ok.

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CPU running at 100%

In reply to: Cpu at 100 % running answer

Thank you kindly for providing such a comprehensive summary of possible causes to my problem.I have to think that it was No.2 in your list which was the most offending item and have done much to eliminate this with the result that the 100% surge seems to have gone.
The other items mentioned will be given the attention that they clearly merit.
Once again thank you so much for your help.

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Try an "empty" start

Disconnect your Internet lead.

Instead of using the F8 key to get into safe mode, keep pressing the left SHIFT key and once Windows is actually starting, HOLD it down until start up is complete.

This means that all "startups" in services, startup folders, and .ini files should all fail to activate.

Now with ZERO windows open check your CPU resources. If your problem still exists I would be looking for viral activity.

The only time I have observed ludicrous CPU usage has been certain flash files, which if you've followed the above instructions should not be running at all.

There is also the possibility that your anti-virus is out-of-date or trying to complete a failed scan. Check that your scanners are up-to-date and allow them to run a full scan, ONE at a TIME. You may also like to submit your hard-drive to be scanned by a friend who uses a different anti-virus program.

Next, you want to look at what services are starting themselves that you may not want at all (like "indexing" found under Start > Run > Services.msc [ENTER]). There are plenty of other services that may be useless to you, and I'm sure you'll find plenty listed on CNet that can safely be de-activated to free up your system.

Check for Load = "programname" and
Run = "programname" in your .ini files as well.

If I've not solved your problem, then hopefully I've eliminated one important step towards your final resolution.

I have not written a three-page diatribe on finding programs that sneakily start-up from inside the registry because editing inside here can be hazardous to your computer's health without the right guidance, confidence and adequate backups.

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CPU running at 100%

In reply to: Try an "empty" start

Thank you so much for your suggestions which I have not heard of before.In going through all the suggestions made for my problem, I have been able to resolve the surge difficulty - at least for the moment.
I feel the information you have provided will be invaluable for the future and am indebted to you.

Kind regard

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CPU @ 100%

Which of the Image Name from the 63 'Processes' tab is using up the 100% CPU resource? That list itself should give you an answer.

Click on the CPU cell as shown in the 'Processes' tab; that would sort all the processes running by their CPU usage figures.



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Look for specific processes in Task Manager

Open Task Manager and see which process is taking an usual amount of CPU processing. If you know what that process refers to, or if it's obvious by the description/path listed there, you have a big clue about what's happening. The first thing to do then is to investigate why that program is misbehaving. It could be corrupted (then a solution could be to reinstall it), it may need to be updated (see if it has the option to run updates -- some programs have it in the help menu) or it may have an issue caused by a defective update (check especially your anti-virus, there have been cases of CPUs slowing down to a crawl due to broken anti-virus updates as recent as 05/06/10 -- two days before this text was written.) Some of the fixes and/or updates will require you to restart the computer.

If the file doesn't give you a clue about what it refers to, google its name and find out -- but keep away from sites that present every file as spyware and offer you to run scans. Before ending any suspicious process, be aware that most of the files listed on Task Manager are necessary and will cause running programs to stop working if closed.

In any case, be sure you have an anti-spyware program like MalwareBytes (even the free version) and run it from time to time if it's not protecting your computer in real-time, and be sure you have an anti-virus program running and up-to-date at all times: Ill-intentioned botnets, viruses and other malware can take control of the computer and make it seem slow for no reason.

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Why is my CPU running @ 100%

There are any number of reasons this can be happening.

1. How much RAM are you running. In today's computer world more RAM is better. Programs and Websites run multi-megabites of information through your computer and require. This acts as a funnel to pass on the information. 512 meg should be the least in a modern computer.

2. Run your antivirus program. If there is a trojan in your system, you will catch it. In addition to your antivirus program try running another program like Spybot. That will catch any behind-the-scenes processes that you may have picked up by touching the doorknobs of some tainted websights.

3. What I call subliminal programs. Programs that run in the background. McAfee, Norton and other programs when maximized can use much of the processing power of your computer. In the past when I have a problem like this I go to the task manager. (Ctrl+alt+del) and view the processes running. If there is (are ) processe(s) I don't know or don't understand I take down the name and google it. In some instances there are processes you can stop, even eliminate (delete)the programs that are causing the backup. (As I type this there are 57 processes running on my XP home edition computer with 0% CPU usage)so there is definitely something going on there. It may take some time, however its either your time or the $$ you pay for someone else's.

That's the extent of my knowledge. If none of those work I'm sure there will be more suggestions here.

If all else fails... There's always the ER at the ccomputer hospital. Hope you have good insurance.

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Why is CPU running so much?

I have found that, even when "windows" are minimized, that they are, still, a draw, on power, and memory. I share your problem. If I have more than three windows open, even if minimized, my machine simply stops working, until I close some of the windows. From what others have told me, even when a window is minimized, it is still taking up time, and space, on the drive. The more windows you have open, regardless of status, such as minimized, your machine will work slower, and slower, with the extra windows open.

The only answer that I have for you is to only open ONE "window" at a time. If more than one opens up, then close whatever you are not using, at the moment. This will free up alot more usefull space. The less windows you have open, the better your machine will work. I hope this helps.

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Minimizing doesn't reduce resources

In reply to: Why is CPU running so much?

This is very true. Just because a program is "minimized" only means that it is not drawing to the current screen--it is still "drawing to its virtual screen" and still using all the other resources it would be using if it were full screen (hard drive, memory etc.).

Example: Video editing software.

You've spent six weeks building your epic film/DVD and your computer now tells you that it is going to take another 6 weeks in CPU time to render it--You have a REALLY good UPS connected, don't you? Minimizing the program isn't going to lower the CPU load--in fact succumbing to the temptation to run another program is going to INCREASE the CPU load.

Minimizing is merely a user interface convenience, not a method of controlling program behavior.

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why is my cpu running at 100 present, when only three window

I thinking there is a virus on the system, try downloading dr.webb cureit antivirus and do acompete scan on the system.

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check why ur pc using 100 percent CPU..........

This problem occures at starting of computer because of windows defender,firewall oa ntivirus running back side of solve after some minutes of opening the pc .
If problem remain full time, first scan pc by updated antivirus.
If problem nt solve open "TASK MANAGER" by keys "CTRL+ALT+DEL" and choose PROCCESS and see which application uses more CPU.
Unstall the application if it is not usefull and restart the computer.
if it is usefull then restall it.
it is good for u not use it.:
simply it is game ,3d graphic application,music player...........
or download manager.

if they are not solve ur problem please restall the complete OS and use only good & rated software with them.

if still facing problem contact with ur complete pc info at:

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Why is my CPU running at 100 percent...

I get this a lot, and I usually have to adjust the virtual RAM; open Control Panel- System, System Properties, Advanced, Performance, Advanced, Performance Options.
There you can opt for "Adjust for best performance" in the Visual Effects tab, which saves some memory, then click on the Advanced tab and you should have three options; Processor Scheduling (programs or background services), Memory Usage (programs or system cache), Virtual Memory where it states the amount of Virtual RAM allocated and you can change this via the "Change" button. You can either set it manually or opt for System Managed.
That should help, but regular Disk Cleaner runs will remove unwanted crap (always check before you Delete files), and I use several Free Crapware products available from CNET or Tech Republic.

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CPU running at 100%

I had the same problem few days ago. It was a trojan virus called "bredolab.AA" The windows tool detected, but was unable to remove. My anti virus was Panda 2008. I uninstalled Panda 2008, and installed panda 2010. It detected an remove it. My equipment is running now in good shape.

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Ram would help

I wish I could offer more advise but you did not leave any information about your system. I have upgraded to 2 GB RAM on my laptop and that is optimal for XP. I had a lot of headaches with only 1 GB. Do you have any extra start-up programs you don't need? What runs in the background? Some programs are memory hogs, take a good look. Try killing a few or using Msconfig utility.

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CPU at 100%

The fact is that you don't need all of the services that Windows automatically starts when it boots. Disabling the non-essential services frees up memory and processor cycles for more important tasks. The number of windows that you have open isn't germane; by windows, do you mean browser windows or ??? Even 1 program can use an inordinate amount of CPU to run it. FIRST; Your problem may be insufficient memory (RAM) needed to properly run XP. Remove or uninstall ALL programs that you don't need, or ever use. Then, Defrag your hard drive to free up contiguous free space on your disk to create virtual RAM used for processing. You may also have Malware or a virus causing the problem, so be sure to run an anti-virus program B4 goin further. NEXT: You mention having 63 processes running simultaneously. The trick is knowing which of Windows' automatic services you can do without: Before changing ANYTHING, be sure to create an up-to-date Restore Point, and then back up the Registry, just in case. You have to ascertain which programs/services are running, especially in the background. Now, open the Services applet: In XP, click Start>Run, type services.msc, and press Enter; Work your way through the listed services, disabling those enabled by default that you deem unnecessary. If unsure about a service, play it safe by setting it to Manual starts only when Windows decides that your system needs it). Unfortunately, some services set to Manual won't start when they should, so you may need to reset these to Automatic. Things would be much simpler if I could just list which services to disable, but each Windows configuration is unique; there's no way to predict which ones are required on your system. However, sites such as (FREE) provides a list of XP services that shows the default settings with Service Pack 2 installed. CNET archives has a number of articles on non-essential Windows services; use the Help feature to see those that relate to XP; or do a search in CNET (for unnecesary services). AND, good luck!

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CPU Usage

My husband who is a computer tech says,that there are a lot of reasons for the CPU to work so hard. Among the most common are: programs running in the background. Programs such as more than one anti virus/spy ware and malware.

Check to see if this is the case. Disable all but, one anti virus/spyware program. Remove the malware. I know it is sounds obvious. But a lot of people forget to do this.

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Could be spyware or viruses

You need to run a good anti-virus system on your programme, preferably one that has a real-time scan as well, as this helps to stop further infestation. Whatever you do DON'T use Norton, as these tend to be resource hogs.

The same thing goes for spyware, use a good one with a real-time scan as well. The comment about Norton applies here as well. However one note - a lot of anti-virus ans spyware systems have the option to check the other out for you (i.e anti-virus checking spyware and vice versa). DON'T fall for it. The two types of programme are dissimilar, and use different engines for checking. Whilst they mau find some, they are certainly not going to get all.

Another thing you may want to do is to get a good defragmentation programme, believe me it's worth it. I run Windodws 7 Professional 64 bit, but I have run XP home 32 bit and 64 bit as well as XP Pro 64 bit. Believe me when I say that the arguments are as now as they were then.

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CPU running at 100 percent

There are some good comments here and some very uninformed comments. Please remember that in order to help you, we need full information about the computer and the applications that you are running.

First, if you only have 1 or 2 GB of RAM then it would be worth upgrading the memory. Also, if the hard drive has not been defragmented then that should be done.

Do you have Service Pack 2 or 3 installed? If you do not have Service Pack 3 installed, get it installed and make sure you get Windows updates installed.

Have you run a check for spyware or viruses? If not, do so. If you don't have an anti-virus or anti-spyware program then you could have a virus or some spyware running and this will slow down your computer and cause other problems. The Microsoft Security Essentials pack is a very good free option for an anti-virus/spyware solution. There are plenty of good programs available but this is a very good solution and you can't beat free.

Also, open My Computer and right-click on the C drive. Select Properties, under the General tab you will see a checkbox near the bottom of the window. It will state, something like, Allow files on this drive to be indexed. If the checkbox is checked, uncheck it then click Apply. Another window may pop up stating that there are files which cannot be accessed; select Ignore All and let it continue. If the Indexing box was checked this will slow down the computer since it will be running the indexing resource at all times. This option is not needed for most home use computers. This is an option which is needed for network servers.

Next click the Disk Cleanup button. After a few moments, another window will open up. Select all checkboxes except for Compress Old Files and, if you have MS Office installed, Office Setup Files. Then click OK and let it delete the temp and junk files which are found.

This is not an exhaustive list of what to look for, far from it. But, without better information about your system and apps that are being run, it's difficult to give a difinitive answer. Also, minimizing a window does not stop the app from running.

Good luck to you.

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My CPU usage

last pid: 1557; load averages: 0.21, 0.13, 0.04 up 0+02:52:21 01:11:57
82 processes: 1 running, 81 sleeping
CPU: 6.8% user, 0.0% nice, 0.0% system, 0.4% interrupt, 92.9% idle
Mem: 92M Active, 93M Inact, 229M Wired, 2148K Cache, 109M Buf, 822M Free
Swap: 786M Total, 786M Free

1124 moleque 1 49 0 167M 152M select 2:59 8.50% Xorg
1235 moleque 12 65 0 117M 99492K ucond 3:37 1.46% firefox-bin
1552 moleque 1 44 0 23980K 14284K select 0:00 0.20% Terminal
1201 moleque 1 60 r16F 20440K 10284K select 0:02 0.00% artsd
915 root 1 44 0 3448K 1152K select 0:02 0.00% moused
1195 moleque 1 44 0 33456K 27704K select 0:02 0.00% kdeinit
1097 root 1 44 0 3804K 1696K select 0:02 0.00% hald-addon-storage
1183 moleque 1 44 0 32668K 24576K select 0:01 0.00% kdeinit
1059 haldaemon 1 44 0 7036K 4456K select 0:01 0.00% hald
1099 root 1 44 0 3804K 1700K select 0:01 0.00% hald-addon-storage
1193 moleque 1 44 0 29572K 23512K select 0:01 0.00% kdeinit
1191 moleque 1 44 0 30404K 22928K select 0:01 0.00% kdeinit
1212 moleque 1 44 0 28712K 21420K select 0:01 0.00% kdeinit
1162 moleque 1 44 0 5284K 3004K select 0:01 0.00% gam_server
1210 moleque 1 44 0 37792K 27188K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1226 moleque 1 44 0 32080K 24552K select 0:00 0.00% korgac
981 root 1 44 0 6072K 3252K select 0:00 0.00% sendmail
1188 moleque 1 44 0 3492K 1136K nanslp 0:00 0.00% kwrapper
1181 moleque 1 44 0 28192K 20284K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1176 moleque 1 44 0 26640K 18392K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1203 moleque 1 44 0 27516K 20344K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1242 moleque 1 44 0 6540K 3748K select 0:00 0.00% gconfd-2
1190 moleque 1 44 0 28500K 20304K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1179 moleque 1 44 0 26216K 17588K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
1063 root 1 76 0 5928K 2576K select 0:00 0.00% hald-runner
1555 moleque 1 45 0 4624K 2440K pause 0:00 0.00% csh
996 root 1 76 0 3372K 1360K nanslp 0:00 0.00% cron
685 root 1 44 0 3344K 1304K select 0:00 0.00% syslogd
1102 moleque 1 44 0 5648K 2472K pause 0:00 0.00% csh
1047 root 1 44 0 3808K 1796K wait 0:00 0.00% login
1196 moleque 1 44 0 26704K 18616K select 0:00 0.00% kdeinit
% uname -a
FreeBSD timey.time 8.0-RELEASE FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE #0: Sat Nov 21 15:48:17 UTC 2009 i386

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Things to try and consider!

To get these results are you using Process Explorer? If you are, the "CPU usage" is commonly misread. Many people look at the top of Process explorer window and next to "system Idle Process" they see a CPU value of nearly 100% and assume that is the CPU usage. It is not, it is the percentage of the CPU that is idle and is actually supposed to be that high. The actual "CPU usage" is on the left on the bottom taskbar. I won't get on your case about "Windows XP Home Edition", because when I really need to get things done I boot into my XP Professional partition instead of my Windows 7 partition. What you really need to do is find out what's running in the background on your system and what start-up programs are involved. I still think the easiest wasy is to go to "RUN" and type in "msconfig" (without the quotes). Look in the startup tab for everything that starts when you boot your system, and remove anything that you don't absolutely need. Then, download a free program called "autoruns" from Microsoft. This will list everything that runs in the background. I would also use a free program called ccleaner to help clean out temporary and junk files. It could also be that you have more than one antivirus or malware program running at the same time (active protection). That always creates problems such as slowdowns and conflicts as each program battles for control. Run a memory test program such as "memtest" to make sure your memory is not failing (then check the computer's memory---LOL). Believe it or not, open up your case and blow out the cosmic dust and potato chip crumbs! Dust can cause problems and dirty fans can lead to improper airflow and allow over-heating of you major components--thus stressing them and shortening their lives. Another suggestion would be to go to "pcpitstop" and run their full tests (for free). These tests will rate your system and give you alerts and suggestions to follow for anything it finds that is not up to par (including programs running in the background). It's a very useful program! Do you defragment? If not, you definately need to do so. You can download many free programs but I personally like "smartdefrag" (which is free), over the built in Windows defrag program. Do an analysis to see just how fragmented you are and then do a thorough fragmentation. That, right there could be a major cause of your slowdown issues. Lastly, newer applications and programs now require MUCH more computing power than they did in the days of early Windows XP. Adding more memory can be a big help, but in reality, depending on your components, your XP Home Edition system may have entered the stone age. Good luck!!

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Updates may not be the answer.

In reply to: UPDATES.

I have found that the most stable installation I can achieve is XP SP2 with "updates" turned OFF. Installing SP3 wreaks havoc.

After the months I have spent fighting with Vista on a customer machine and the same negative feedback on W7, I don't really intend sending any more $ in MS's direction if I can help it.

I have just set up a matched pair of Acer EM250 machines for the same specific task and have given up on the supplied version of XP Home. I have installed an absolutely stripped down version of XP Pro 2--deleted screen savers from files and from the Registry, disabled and or removed every unecessary service, and still find that for machines rated at 1.6 GHz, they are shockingly slow--so slow that even the windows "startup sound" stutters very badly. Thankfully I don't intend using them for their advertised purpose as "netbooks". Indeed if I had a chance to review prior to purchase, I would have moved on to something else.

As these machines are intended to back each other up on a paper-publishing document, every extraneous/junk font has been stripped and only vital system fonts and those chosen for the documents have been installed--why have 2000 other fonts tying up memory in the Registry when 1850 of them will NEVER be used?

Unfortunately I can't do the same with unwanted .wav files as one needs to be able to hear the "OK, I've finally done that" signal in half an hour's time. You know, those infinite coffee breaks while you wait for the progress bar to go nowhere.

So far I have this "fresh installation" to under 4 Gb which can copied straight to the primary partition in about 10 mins instead of the 2 hrs it takes with the factory discs and then having to delete all the unwanted junk "extras".

I recommend a little add-on called "Speedfan.exe". The Author is obvious Dell-oriented, but it enables you to monitor CPU temperature and usage on most other machines. I mostly check temperature--if that starts to climb then I check usage and if nothing found then go back to checking hardware ventilation.

So I advocate that if there are tolerable but STABLE problems leave the dodgey updates alone.

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How to identify unwanted updates from MS?

In reply to: UPDATES.

The subject of updates raises another very important question. If you do not turn on automatic update, one might miss an important update. On the other hand, automatic update brings in all the muck doled out. Unfortunately, MS website on updates gives cryptic description the updates. The notes accompanying the updates do not give enough information to make an informed decision about not downloading or not installing a given update. Some times, after an update is installed, there will be no option to remove such update. The user is stuck with that update, not at all knowing whether it is important or another unwanted adjunct. The windows updates are numbered by MS. Is it structured identification. If so, can one understand the nature of the update by decoding the number?

Can one ignore all the "recommended updates" and install only "important updates". Is that a reliable guide to avoid unwanted or unimportant updates?

Can the participants of this debate throw some light on how to select or unselect a given update.

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Run antivirus/spy-ware check.

You could always run a full PC virus check on all files. Also on your all programs menu you'll see one called start up, check for unneeded programs there. Or there is always reformatting. AVG is free(can be downloaded here at It is an awesome antivirus. Though a virus is not necessarily your problem. You might also look into "Fix-It Utilities" by Avanquest this program will help you sort out all the processes that automatically start up when Windows boots.

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CPU Alwats 100%

I think its your security software. If you have Mcafee that is probabl why because my other computer which is running Windows XP Pro SP3 has Mcafee and it makes my computer really slow especially when its updating.Also you should see which programs have internet access through windows firewall because some programs are always updating themselves in the background which can really slow down your computer.

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CPU at 100% may due to power supply problem

My note book experienced same 100% problem, virtually no useful. It was serviced three times with the ram and mother board replaced. By the end, the many reboot trial record help the engineer to track down the power supply problem. Probably some unclean power causing the system kept doing memory check and being busy (100%) all the times.

Try to use a new power supply.

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CPU Utilization

I have a contrary suggestion. Start another app. Specifically, start Task Manager (either right-click on the task bar or Control-Alt-Del and select Task Manager). Select the Processes tab, and click twice on the CPU column header. This way you can see what is taking up all your CPU cycles. It may be something as obscure as an anti-virus scanner, or an application that expects to be running but isn't, or an application updater.

Hope this helps.

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