WinXP 100 percent CPU usage

I've recently noticed that my WinXP Pro Task Manager is always (as far as I can tell) showing my CPU at 100 percent usage.

I have not noticed any glaring or obvious O/S or Application(s) problems, but I am nonetheless concerned.

My questions are as follows:

1) What could potentially cause this kind of apparently-constant reading?

2) What, if any, diagnostic procedures should I/could I execute (besides the obvious shutting down of running apps/processes one by one)?

3) What are the potential side effects and/or dangers of such a reading?

4) I recently installed Win XP Service Pack 2 (beta), could that be the “problem” (I do not recall the exact chronology, so I'm not sure which came first, the service pack, or the 100 percent usage)?

a) Are you aware of any Service Pack 2 “known bugs” listings?

Thank you in advance for any and all insights you might be willing and able to provide.


Who is Participating?
The_MaverickConnect With a Mentor Commented:
CTRL-ALT-DEL to get into Task Manager then click on the PROCESSES tab - take a look down the list and let us know which task is causing the 100% Utilization - it's a good starting point.

100% utilisation doesn't necessarily cause a problem (I run mine at 100% 24x7 on SETI) - but you have to make sure the cooling systems are coping OK - ups your power bill too :(

Have you scanned for spyware, malware etc?,
get a list of tools from here:
thecybermonkeyAuthor Commented:
Yes, as a matter of fact, I wiped the machine quite clean only an hour ago.

I'd been having a problem with eZula in particular, but I went into Safe Mode and ran AdAware, SpyBot, and XControl in succession.

All the Malware that was detected (using the most up to date definitions of course) was promptly removed.

I've been up and running in normal mode for the last hour or so. And I've checked for MalWare again (using AdAware, SpyBot, and XControl), and the machine seems to be free and clear of all junk-matter for the time being.

That's why I'm concerned about the 100 percent usage reading.

Any other suggestions and/or insights?

Thank you for your help, and I look forward to finding out more.

Where do I go from here?


Free Tool: Port Scanner

Check which ports are open to the outside world. Helps make sure that your firewall rules are working as intended.

One of a set of tools we are providing to everyone as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

If you see a high utilization process as 'The Mavrick <Nice Missile>' says, try to set its priority to as low as possible... this will enable you to deal with the process problematic issue. Also, Windows does not have a well designed Process Explorer. It wont allow you to follow what PID sub threads are binded to the problematic process and sometimes it wont allow you to stop it from running.

Sysinternals made agreat utility which override the system settings and it can do all the things the Task Manager cant do and thats a shame MS wont do it as great as they did it:

I would suggest to run an AV software. This may be a cause as well...

Good luck

Several experts have put together a lot of tools for resolving problems such as this.  
See: http:Q_20975384.html  Post the hijack this log if you still have trouble.

Try disabling unneeded services:

You might also try running the System File Checker (read more here:
 To do so,
   Click Start->Run->SFC /Purgecache
   Start->Run->SFC /Scannow

   *You may need your installation source (CD) as this process will replace missing/corrupted drivers on your system.

Failing that, you can try the following method to eliminate items from startup:
  Click Start->Run->MSCONFIG

  In the Startup tab, start out by disabling everything you're unfamiliar with (or everything if you're unsure).
  Optionally, you can also disable non-Microsoft services from the Services tab.
  If the problem no longer exists after a reboot, then you can narrow it down as one of the items in your
  startup.  To permanently remove these item(s), proceed as follows...

  Click Start->Run->Regedit
  *Be careful when editing the registry as an accidental deletion can render your system inoperable.
  First navigate to the following key in the registry:
   *You might also find RunOnce, RunOnceEx, RunServices, RunServiceOnce or any of these with a trailing dash (-)

  Once found, click File, Export to save a copy of the key before you delete any items (if necessary).
  After the file has been saved, delete items as needed from the right pane.
  Now find the next startup key:
   *You might also find RunOnce, RunServices, RunServiceOnce or any of these with a trailing dash (-)
  Follow the previous procedures to export a copy before deleting items from the right pane.

You might also clear out your TEMP folders...
  Click Start->Run->%TEMP% <ENTER>
  This is your profile's temporary folder location.  All files can be deleted here, but not the containing
  folder.  Some files may be in use, so an error may be generated but can be ignored.
  Repeat the process with %SYSTEMROOT%\TEMP as well.

Also see: How to optimize Windows XP for the best performance.
thecybermonkeyAuthor Commented:

Experts-Exchange rocks hard and fast, as usual.

I'll wade through the voluminous amount of potential-solution information -- as provided by asishdaga, cyber-dude, & the_maverick above -- and get back to y'all.

Thanks for showing me a few new tips, tricks, and things, regardless of the outcome.

Until soon,

thecybermonkeyAuthor Commented:
Ok, I finally had some time to delve into this issue.

The_Maverick gets the "Nod" on this one.

I stopped BOINC (SETI), and it is indeed the “culprit”.

I've lowered the priority-rating to "low", but it still drives the CPU-usage
meter to 100 percent.

Since I haven't noticed any negative consequences as a result of 100 percent CPU-usage, I'll keep running BOINC. The temperature issue doesn't appear to be a problem at present.

I went inside the BIOS/CMOS and checked the PC-Health settings. I enabled the CPU Temperature Warning option, and set it for 60 degrees C/140 degrees F (the lowest setting).

Thank goodness I asked this question, and checked-out the BIOS/CMOS. One of the readings alerted me to the fact that the System Fan is not functioning (time to troubleshoot and rectify that problem, but quick!). I wouldn’t have happened across that important bit of news for a while yet.

Thanks to everyone for all the information, suggested procedures, and/or utility recommendations -- most or all of which will no doubt come in handy in the future.


Cool :)

For those who don't know, BOINC is the new and improved SETI - a wonderful distrbuted computing project involving over 5 million users (I'm currently #8 in the New Zealand rankings and around 1112 in the world-wide total.

Not sure how BOINC will behave (I only have this version on 1 PC) - the command line version of SETI would sometimes pause the PC for a few seconds as it did some phase of a calculation, even though it's set to run at a low priority.

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