High CPU Usage

  giangian 13:28 11 Sep 2010

I wonder if an expert can explain what happens on my PC.

I run XP Pro SP3 on a Celeron 2.66 GHz with 2 GB Ram and I have Zone Alarm and Avira installed. Typically I read some online news, play Websudoku , do Family Tree research and check emails after switching on and usually remain online with one or more web pages open. I always shut down overnight. After about an hour online (the time varies quite a bit) I notice that mouse operation and website access become "clunky" - by which I mean there seems to be noticeable delays to normal operation occurring and viewing onliine video is especially poor and jerky. I have regularly run Adaware, Spybot and used Advanced System Care to try to find problems but nothing comes up except the odd cookie from time to time.

In Msconfig ONLY Zone alarm and AVG are set to start on the boot menu, all others are unticked.

To try to sort things out I have engaged the Internet Lock in Zone Alarm which I believe isolates me from the internet, closed Firefox and all open programmes and windows, then using Windows Task Managaer I have tried to isolate the culprit process but without success. What I find is that when I experience the clunkiness the System Idle Process can be showing as high as 99% yet at the same moment the CPU usage can be up to 97% - both numbers do fluctuate as I watch but both stay at high figures.

I have tried leaving the PC idle when it's like this, yet even after an hour it doesn't unload the CPU or restore the lost performance, so my question is what can be occupying the processor.

If I do a restart it doesn't always sort things out, but a full shut down and a moment with the power right off always gets me back to "normality" and usually having done just one reboot the system doesn't often get clogged again that day. Normality I see as 90+% System Idle with minimal CPU usage balancing that with or without internet connection on. Obviously if I start my browser there are a few seconds of greater CPU usage balanced with lower System Idle.

Is something going on, or am I not looking at things correctly anyway ?

Help please

  Nontek 14:15 11 Sep 2010

It is normal for System Idle Process to be between 95-99%, but I don't understand how CPU usage could show 97% at the SAME time?

System Idle, means just that. So unless you are running some CPU intensive program(s), System Idle should show in the 90's%.

  woodchip 15:02 11 Sep 2010

check in power utilities control panel that its not got hard drive set to close down, at a given point

  woodchip 15:03 11 Sep 2010

Also it may be your Anti-Virus thinking nothing is being done on the PC so it decides to run

  giangian 16:37 11 Sep 2010

Sorry Nontek, but I think you are effectively making the same point as my question - that's what I believed too, but it's not what happens on my PC and I wouldn't have written as much detail as I did if things were not exactly as I described - CPU usage AND System Idle are simultaneously both over 90% according to Windoes Task Manager AND the PC responds as though the CPU is running flat out.

Thanks Woodchip, I've checked the power options, the monitor is set to shut down after 20 mins, but HD and System Standby are set at Never, so it can't be that.

In response to your second offering, the Anti Virus possibility I can't comment on the situation which occurs when this "fault" occurs, because naturally the darned thing is working properly right now, but a moment ago with a high System Idle number and low CPU usage I manually started Avira to do a complete system scan and found that at its worst it doesn't hog all the CPU and what it does take up is clearly visible on the processes monitor as a process running (say 60% CPU use) and it drops the System Idle by a corresponding amount to say 40% - also the amount Avira is using does sometimes go way over 90% but then it drops back again of its own accord. Half an hour and 75%into the scan and CPU usage seems to be at 100% due to avscan.exe grinding away.

Final point, the PC is not responding jerkily as it does when it "goes wrong" despite having a fairly processor intensive thing on the go, so I was able to open Wordpad and type and edit this response without actually being aware that Avira is actually hard at work at this time.

Back to the drawing board ........

  Nontek 17:09 11 Sep 2010

Do you have or use Adobe? I got rid of Adobe some time ago as I noticed that it was very much a PCU hogger, especially when updating itself 'in the background'.

  Nontek 17:10 11 Sep 2010

Ooops .... CPU

  giangian 17:35 11 Sep 2010

There is no Adobe showing in my programmes listing, but Add/Remove shows Adobe Flash Player 10 Plug in which I take it is not what you meant

  grey george 17:52 11 Sep 2010

It could be the case that so much CPU is being used task manager can't keep up, so the figures you see are not real time for what is happening. This can happen when security software is monitoring the active processes and also monitoring its own process, which ends up chasing its self round in circles. You should be able to tell your security software to ignore the location of it's own programme file. Are there any applications showing in the task manager? I am thinking of internet explorer which has failed to launch and is showing as not responding, as this can lock the CPU up at 100%.

  rdave13 18:14 11 Sep 2010

Sounds like the cpu is becoming hot after an hour's use. Use something like Speed Fan ( use a search engine for it) to monitor the temps.

  giangian 19:07 11 Sep 2010

RDave 13 - if the CPU is overheating how would doing a reboot help ? I repeat, if I reboot (it is switched off for a second or two only) why would the problem disappear entirely. Ihave monitored the CPU temperature in the BIOS on doing the reboot and it's quite normal it seems - again why would it cool right down in seconds?

Grey George - I don't have to have ANYTHING running when this happens, no applications showing at all, and I don't use IE, its Firefox for me.

If Task Manager reacts normally when the PC is not playing up I can't see how I can't see something odd if it's not monitoring realtime as you suggest. Sorry, explain please.

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