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High idle CPU utilization

Hi there,

I imagine this question's been asked before, but I can't search the site.  I've looked around on the web, but only found conflicting advice.

My problem is that on Windows 98SE, System Monitor lists my processor usage as about 80 % when my computer is doing nothing.  Closing all running applications makes no difference, and I've checked that only the usual ports are open.  Moving the mouse causes the value to fall to about 40 %.  While idle, there is no hard disk activity.

Using WinTop, I can see that the program "Idle" is using 80 % of the CPU, and that nothing else comes close.  When playing an mp3 file, Winamp takes about 20 % of the CPU, and idle still gets about 70 %.  The idle process always seems to get more than ten times the 'CPU Time' as any other program.

I've read in various places that this is normal.  However, what makes me think this is a problem is that my computer, which is a laptop, seems to get hotter than it used to while idle.  After it's been sitting there doing nothing for a while, the fan comes on.  I don't remember the fan coming on very much normally.  I also use Linux on the computer, and I've only ever had the fan come on while I've been running some highly CPU-intensive simulations--certainly never while the computer's idle.

Thanks for any help you can give me, even if it's just to tell me that high CPU utilization is normal.
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c10
Asked:
c10
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1 Solution
 
GoldwingCommented:
Start regedit and look in,
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]

Look for something that you don't recognize.
If you are in doubt post the keys that you see in there and we can figure out what is causing the high CPU usage
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GoldwingCommented:
there = here.

Also look in your win.ini and system.ini for weard things in your "run=" section
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c10Author Commented:
Thanks, Goldwing.

In "...\CurrentVersion\Run" there's just:
LoadPowerProfile
ScanRegistry
SystemTray
TaskMonitor
Tweak UI
Yamaha ds-xg launcher

I can't see any programs in the "run" sections, or following a "run=", in win.ini and system.ini.
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drcspyCommented:
lol well 'IDLE' would get more processor 'time' if you look at it that way.....the less other stuff is running the more the processor is 'idling'.......
I've got 'procexp' ( www.sysinternals.com ) it's very similar to wintop and it shows my system bouncing between 60-80% idle most of the time.....

what you are seeing is the percentage of cpu at idle that dont mean it's actually DOING something.....what I believe here is that you DONT have some 'behind the scenes' thing hogging your processor time.......you are seeing the amount of processor NOT being used....and it's coming thru as the 'idle' listing.......nothing to worry about at all it's good........
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GoldwingCommented:
Hmmzz..

are you running McAfee virusscanner?
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drcspyCommented:
whatever they're running ........wintop will show that process and tell them how much cpu time that process is using.......idle time showed means IDLE .......it's not a PROCESS its more a LACK of process lol
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GoldwingCommented:
aah.. damn..

THATS NORMAL!!!

my idle time is 98% CPU time..

shucks... sorry.. didn't read the Q right..
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GoldwingCommented:
/me is banging his head at the monitor and shouting wake up moron... this was a easy question...


Sorry for sending you on a wild goose chase.. it's saturday evening here.. and i'm sitting here with a bottle of wine..
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tanjntCommented:
Get SpyBot and Ad-aware, and run them anyway. You might have some junk software or a trojan running. Sometimes a specific trojan hunter will find things antivirus doesn't.
Also get a can of compressed air and blow as many dust bunnies as you can out of the laptop. It might be running hotter because of dust accumulation.
http://spybot.eon.net.au/
www.lavasoft.nu    http://www.simplysup.com/tremover/
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c10Author Commented:
Thanks, drcspy, you answered my question about the idle process.  Installing a software CPU cooler results in a new process that takes up most of the CPU time when idle, which fits with your answer.  It's what I originally thought, but there's so much on the web that says otherwise.

Thanks also to tanjnt.  I took a (careful!) look inside my laptop and found a lot of dust.  I think it was blocking the main air vent, so I expect the cooling to be better now.
For a notebook (Sony Vaio) with a Celeron 333 MHz chip, how hot would you expect the case to get?  Underneath, when it's really working hard, it almost gets too hot to touch.  Right now, it's about 2/3 that temperature.  If you have any idea about these things, does that sound bad?


How should I split these points up between you two?
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c10Author Commented:
Also, does anyone know why the computer gets so much hotter while running Windows 98, Word & Excel, IE6, and Winamp compared with running Red Hat Linux 8, OpenOffice Writer & Calc, Mozilla, and xmms?

The performance of the two is pretty similar.  Windows is a bit more responsive, and less likely to cause mp3s to stutter on playback.


Thanks
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tanjntCommented:
This is mostly a guess, but probably Linux is using fewer resources/less RAM. Windoze has always been a bit bloated, while Linux is a bit leaner. Run some of the CPU temp monitoring software. It would at least quantify what you already know. There are several that are free at places like tucows.com, tudogs.com, etc. if the Vaio didn't come with the util.

The Vaios are usually very slim. A lot of them run metal cases, and use that as a heat sink. When running laptops, I often set the back of it on something like a legal pad to add a bit of air circulation. At stores like Radio Shack, you can find adhesive plastic or rubber dots. Clean your existing pads, then glue new ones on top of them. Would give a tad of extra clearance. You can also play with your power saving features, and set things like when the CPU slows down, how soon it powers down screen or HDD. It could be that your settings are different in some ways from Windows to when you run Linux.

Blow the dust out of your laptop every month or two. You won't get it all without taking apart the case, which is risky, but regular cleaning should get rid of heavy accumulations.
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NetminderCommented:
Per request in http://www.experts-exchange.com/Community_Support/Q_20552418.html, I've reduced the points in this question from 150 to 125 for a split.

tanjnt: points for you at http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Win98/Q_20554248.html

Netminder
EE Admin
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