Intermitted 100% CPU usage problem

Currently I'm having CPU usage issues. I have a machine running with an AMD Atholon XP 2800+ 2.09 ghz with 1 gb of ram.
I am running WinXP Home SP2. I use a GeForce 6200 graphics card.

To clear the air, I use ZoneAlarm Security Center for firewall, anti-virus, and spyware detection, along with Adaware, and Spybot Search and Destroy, and HijackThis. I use System Mechanic 6 for maintenance.

Now onto the problem:

Sometimes when intense CPU usage reaches 100% and falls back to normal,  my CPU usage will rise an addition 20% and fall back to normal every second. When I run things such as a video in WMP10, it's usage alone will hit 30,40, or even 60%, quickly maxing out the CPU, as well.  I have about 40 processes running at one time, however when I monitor them with taskmanager, they aren't the culprit.. and I can't see what's causing the every second spiking, when it does occur.

When the quick jumping and lowering occurs, whatever I'm running staggers, whether it's a game, a video, or whatever.. most annoyingly notable is the video playback. It's choppy and aggrivating.. Especially now that I'm interested in viewing HD clips with WMP10.. (the problem existed before hand, but now when I view those clips, I hit 100% usage instantly)

My only solution at this point in time is that I just wait it out.. eventually the thrashing stops and things go back to normal. I shouldn't have to, my system shouldn't be having performance issues at this point in time..

(Also, any tips for optimazation is greatly appreciated. My box isn't the new kid on the block anymore, but she should still run pretty fast)

I'm sure you want more information/specs, so ask away!

Appreciatingly, Helix_the_II
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in task manager is "Show processes from all users" ticked?

and when you sort by cpu? nothing has the spike?
i actually had similar issues with zone alarm some time back, not to this extreme but to the point where i hate the software and wouldnt put it near my machine again, if you disable it for a while and see how you go
Naga Bhanu Kiran KotaCloud Architecture ManagerCommented:
hi there

ur processor seems ok and ur ram is sufficient the most probable issue might be ur hard disk just check if that is fast enough. that may be consuming ur processor power

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hav u got any norton stuff insatlled?

can u post a hijackthis log here?
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
Yes, all processes are shown.. especially since I am the only user. (The box is checked)

My hijackthis log is clean, I recognize every process running.

Yes, norton was previously installed on the system, but was removed over two years ago. This problem is only within a few months.
zone alarm?
Naga Bhanu Kiran KotaCloud Architecture ManagerCommented:
hi there

helix try to run some checks on the different devices on ur system i presume the problem is with ur hard disk

delete all you temp internet explorer  files Helix_the_II  and also reduce the cache allocated for these temp files, this is often times set to around 1200 megs.
At your start menue Internet Explorer r/click internet properties> sttings to reduce the amount of disc space to use.
And then delete the files and history.
True i have seen cpu usage jump from 100% to around 4 after doing this.
Perform a disc cleanup from start all progarms accessories system tools..
Then  chkdsk defrag
If you dont have any spyware you will surely notice the changes after doing thesevery simple steps.
set the IE cache to around 80 megs shoudl do it just fine unless you view a lot of quicktime movies or animations.
It is best to delete these temp IE files after a day or evening on the internet each time before shutting down.
download process explorer (free) from it is more robust a utility for finding your problem.

Do you have other symptoms of slowness during the 100% spikes? There are circumstances in which the resource allocation shows a high level for a process, and if you do not have sluggish input or hiccups in output, it may be a problem with the reporting mechanism.  I've noticed this when running 16bit apps on a very powerfull terminal server, also when I run process intensive command line applications on a dual Xeon system (which has four processors via hyper threading)  if you run one session of a command line utility, it spikes CPU0 100%, run the same four time and your total CPU use is 100%.  However hit outlook or word and they start and run as if the process usage is nill.  Perhaps you have a utility that has a component that runs in 16 bit without telling you. 32 bit windows (any flavor) has trouble reporting the real CPU use of 16 bit apps.
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
Merete, I clean my cache nightly and only have it set to 100mb because I do browse multimedia frequently. I do, however, have two hard drives. One runs the O/S, the other is the warehouse harddrive where most stuff is downloaded and accessed from. Could it, in some way, be because my A: drive is disconnected? (I disconnected it awhile back when I upgraded my power source. I never use floppies, anymore. I don't think I changed it in my bios)

Carl, yeah, I experience sluggishness and hiccups from other programs. Let's say I run a pc game that I exceed recommended requirements. It can run very smoothly. However, if I do something such as minimize it to switch to a different screen (let's say an IE window) and come back to the game, it'll be choppy and jumpy with even sound artifact problems. I can see my CPU light up and virtually blink as well. When it stops (sometimes five to ten minutes), the game will go back to running smoothly. The problem rears its head whenever I do anything that causes my CPU to rev up.. (such as opening large programs, playing video files, switching windows.. things that may normally spike the usage meter, but revert back to normal after execution.)

While that's just one example, the videos are the ones who hit 100% usually resulting in crappy playback. The actual intermitted cpu usage that is symptom of what's going on is the +20 every second. It's rhymic and predictable.
Our systems are almost the same Helix_the_II
regarding the floppy naw dont need one..
I too am runninag AMD Athlon Xp  2800 and recently upgraded my ram to 1 gig ddr2.
I also just bought myself  Gforce Gigyabyte nvidia 6600GT video card. .

running xpsp2 with two HDD, windows on one. software accesses on the other, I do however also have video capture now after ligtening strike lol forcing the vidia crad as well.
One thing when I bought the  gforce card 128 MB DDR3 ram on board too. I kinda new that power maybe a problem but went ahead and installed it, and sure enough once I booted up I  got big message something like my video card core has been reduced to match my power supply  to prevent windows from crashing or something like this. So I also upgraded my PSU to 480 watts from a 340 watter I think it was.
The increase in my performance was brilliant no more lags or desktop freezes etc.

So with what yu have, the xp athlon 2800 processor +2 hdd +video card + modem cards possible soundcard possible..
how much have you added to this system since you first bought it?

The PSU maybe at its peak.
I would suggest you check wattage on the power supply unit and then check if it is able to handle what you have onboard there plus run games etc.

What drivers do you have for the video card?
There is a new driver for nvidia out as of 14th FEB 2006.

What you are playing your movies on can help.
I use media player classic low resources great picture screen slimlined and easy to access. It plays all formats BTW.

I just ran a movie on my hdd  playing it in media player classic version 2006 from your link..and my cpu usage is between 14 and  17%
Before the psu upgrade thye would run at around 80 to 90 %
It also pays to replce the battery once a teay they are quite cheap too arong 6 dollars for these round camera battery I used to call them.

Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
I have *450 watt power supply I installed after upgrading my video card.

I do not have the 'most' recent graphic drivers due to one of my heavily used apps require using an older (not too old) version of the drivers simply because it was the last set to be tested with for compatability.

The dialup modem was removed and replaced with a *fan.

The soundcard is a *Turtle Beach Santa Cruz.

(* indicates changes/upgrades to the system)
well it looks like you have covered the most important issues.
Press cntl/alt/del to bring up task manager
Select Processes tab
Set View/Update speed to low
 when the system is busy, try to identify the process name that is showing the most CPU usage. If you find one, give us the name.
One little item, how many running programs on the toolbar ( rightside)

One other thing to remember is with your paging file, make sure that it kicks off where your RAM finishes. If you have 1 gb of ram  start the paging file size at around 1532 up to whatever you want. If there is a hold from the end of the RAM to the beginning of the pagefile, you will reduce performance substantially...
r/click my computer/ advanced/performance/settings/advanced virtual memory change. Have a look at what page filingset reccomended by windows and currently allocated. Select custom add yours and SET:

A tip, if you look in  [and WinXP Help and Support] and a Search for paging file you'll note the recommendation that it be 1.5 times the physical RAM. 1GB RAM x 1.5 = 1.5GB paging file size.1.5 times is recommended

i would like to see your hijackthis logs incase you may have missed soemthing.
Or have the EE look at it.
It may not be spyware but it may show some running tasks that may include this problem with intermitten cpu usage.

Have you checked the PSU is not fluctuating?
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
My filing is set at 1535mb.

My recommended power supply is 339 watts.

I currently have nine programs running in the background (in the toolbar)..

Even at my heaviest of use I rarely break 600 mb of ram in use at once.

As for the taskmanager, most run silently at 0 cpu usage.. task manager soaks up 3% (when nothing's going on relating to the problem). Also, when the extra oomph is happening (the spiking) I can't seem to see where it's going.

I just forced my PC to go into the intermitted mode. I have the task manager paused as the cpu light peaked. The CPU usage meter reads 19%.
System Idle is at 96%, four other apps are at 1%. I know the system idle process forks over whatever is necessary. How can I have a usage of 19% when the idle process only reads its given up four percent, and I know where all four is accounted for.. but not the extra 15%?
(I caused the problem by running a HD 1080i wmv file through WMP10.. which quickly at first sucked up my usage to 100%. I then paused it, watch my usage drop to normal, and right about then the 15% spiking started.. Hopefully what I typed made sense)

As for my hijackthis:

R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL =
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Connection Wizard,ShellNext =
O2 - BHO: AcroIEHlprObj Class - {06849E9F-C8D7-4D59-B87D-784B7D6BE0B3} - C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 5.0\Reader\ActiveX\AcroIEHelper.ocx
O2 - BHO: (no name) - {53707962-6F74-2D53-2644-206D7942484F} - D:\SPYBOT~1\SDHelper.dll
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [CHotkey] mHotkey.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [showicon2k] C:\Program Files\\eM\Bay Reader\Shwicon2k.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [LogitechVideoTray] C:\Program Files\Logitech\Video\LogiTray.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [POINTER] point32.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [LogonStudio] "D:\LogonStudio\logonstudio.exe" /RANDOM
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [RoxioEngineUtility] "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Roxio Shared\System\EngUtil.exe"
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [NvCplDaemon] RUNDLL32.EXE C:\WINDOWS\system32\NvCpl.dll,NvStartup
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [nwiz] nwiz.exe /install
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [LyraHD2TrayApp] "C:\Program Files\Thomson\Lyra Jukebox\LyraHDTrayApp\LYRAHD2TrayApp.exe"
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [NvMediaCenter] RUNDLL32.EXE C:\WINDOWS\system32\NvMcTray.dll,NvTaskbarInit
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [LogitechVideoRepair] C:\Program Files\Logitech\Video\ISStart.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [SpySweeper] "C:\Program Files\Webroot\Spy Sweeper\SpySweeper.exe" /startintray
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Zone Labs Client] D:\ZoneAlarmSecurity\zlclient.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Windows Media Connect 2] "C:\Program Files\Windows Media Connect 2\WMCCFG.exe" /StartQuiet
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [SystemGuardAlerter] "C:\Program Files\iolo\System Mechanic 6\SystemGuardAlerter.exe"
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [ResChanger2004] NONE
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [SMSystemAnalyzer] "C:\Program Files\iolo\System Mechanic 6\SMSystemAnalyzer.exe"
O4 - Startup: Stardock ObjectDock.lnk = D:\ObjectDock\ObjectDock.exe
O4 - Global Startup: Logitech Desktop Messenger.lnk = C:\Program Files\Logitech\Desktop Messenger\8876480\Program\LDMConf.exe
O6 - HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Restrictions present
O6 - HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel present
O8 - Extra context menu item: Add to &Windows Live Favorites -
O16 - DPF: {14B87622-7E19-4EA8-93B3-97215F77A6BC} (MessengerStatsClient Class) -
O16 - DPF: {17492023-C23A-453E-A040-C7C580BBF700} (Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool) -
O16 - DPF: {34260DAF-318A-4B5A-8778-A861CF2108A5} (FavImport Class) -
O16 - DPF: {5ED80217-570B-4DA9-BF44-BE107C0EC166} (Windows Live Safety Center Base Module) -
O16 - DPF: {94B82441-A413-4E43-8422-D49930E69764} (TLIEFlashObj Class) -
O16 - DPF: {B8BE5E93-A60C-4D26-A2DC-220313175592} (ZoneIntro Class) -
O16 - DPF: {BD393C14-72AD-4790-A095-76522973D6B8} (CBreakshotControl Class) -
O16 - DPF: {D1E7CBDA-E60E-4970-A01C-37301EF7BF98} (Measurement Services Client v.3.7) -
O18 - Protocol: msnim - {828030A1-22C1-4009-854F-8E305202313F} - "C:\PROGRA~1\MSNMES~1\msgrapp.dll" (file missing)

here is the results for your hijack log..

O8 - Extra context menu item: Add to &Windows Live Favorites -   
Possibly nasty   Entries shown in the menu that pops up when right-clicking into the Internet Explorer. Unknown entries should be fixed.
   To be fixed if the entry 'Add to &Windows Live Favorites ' is unknown.

This entry should be fixed if '' is not your PC-manufacturer or your 'Internet-Service-Provider (ISP)
Possibly nasty

Unknown ActiveX-Objects, or ActiveX-Objects from unknown sites should always be fixed. If the name of the ActiveX-Object or the URL contains the words 'dialer', 'casino', 'free plugin' etc, it should be fixed!
Check if you know this site and fix it if you do not.
O16 - DPF: {34260DAF-318A-4B5A-8778-A861CF2108A5} (FavImport Class) -   
Possibly nasty

Check if you know this site and fix it if you do not.
O16 - DPF: {D1E7CBDA-E60E-4970-A01C-37301EF7BF98} (Measurement Services Client v.3.7) - 
Possibly nasty

Helix just another idea please download the media player classic donot allow any internet access in the preferences. Then play a movie.
 Windows media player and a few others would run a lot of system resources if everytime you play a file it attempts to connect to the internet and find more information on that file.
Just to check the cpu usage against the windows media player.
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
Live is new from Microsoft and Futuremark is benchmarking.. So that's all good.

I haven't tried wmp classic, yet.

Any suggestions as to the disappearing cpu usage?
sorry missed that one, disapearing cpu usage?? Do you mean the fluctuating or the cpu spikes I hope that using a smaller less resources player may help show this. As you have commented the ,ost cpu usage is when you play a movie.

Fluctuating cpu usage  apart from all the suggestion here could the PSU is not up to to speed and cannot supply  power needed for the system.

Power supply calulater
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
From an earlier comment:

"As for the taskmanager, most run silently at 0 cpu usage.. task manager soaks up 3% (when nothing's going on relating to the problem). Also, when the extra oomph is happening (the spiking) I can't seem to see where it's going.

I just forced my PC to go into the intermitted mode. I have the task manager paused as the cpu light peaked. The CPU usage meter reads 19%.
System Idle is at 96%, four other apps are at 1%. I know the system idle process forks over whatever is necessary. How can I have a usage of 19% when the idle process only reads its given up four percent, and I know where all four is accounted for.. but not the extra 15%?"


"My recommended power supply is 339 watts." I have a 450 watt psu.

task manager uses around 6 ..
Motherboard Monitor (MBM) is a tool that will display information from the sensor chip on your motherboard in your Windows system tray. MBM supports a wide range of Chipsets & Sensor Chip combinations,fid,7309,RSS,RSS,00.asp

There is also a few others here as well.
I am having a similar problem.  If you uninstall your nvidia drivers does the problem go away?
Another problem related to high cpu usage with explorer, I just received this email confirming the solution here it is>>
Comment from paulcronin
Date: 03/06/2006 02:52AM EST
 Author Comment  
 but the problem turned out to be caused by windows not recognising a USB external disk properly. Device was installed but no drive letter was allocated. I can only assume explorer was spending more & more CPU time trying to install it. I haven't reinstalled the device yet but unplugging the drive & plugging back in after Windows booted got the drive installed and solved the cpu problem with explorer.exe. SO mesage for anyone else with this problem is to ma,ke sure all your devices are installed OK.

Also is your computer connected to the same line as aircon/ fridge etc these maybe sapping the power too.
Did you install any new hardware or software before this CPU spike?
Is the fan running correctly  GeForce 6200 graphics card
Did your PSU come with a garranteed certificate that the unit has been tested?
Fluctuating PSU units can kill your machine.
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
I have not uninstalled my nvidia drivers. I may try that, if I feel it isn't too drastic.. (If I need to uninstall them, I may just live with the problem)

I don't have a USB external disc.

As for the line, it's on its own circuit sharing only power with a monitor and minor other misc comp related objects.

I've never had a problem with antec power supplies and it seems stable.
Do you have any printers installed using old drivers can cause high cpu usage.
you said here>>
I caused the problem by running a HD 1080i wmv file through WMP10.. which quickly at first sucked up my usage to 100%. I then paused it, watch my usage drop to normal, and right about then the 15% spiking started.. Hopefully what I typed made sense)

If I may suggest disable windows media player settings  file associations >>internet connection settings.. kill it as best possible and then shove it in a dark corner, not only is it a risky insecure media player pest for hackers but a huge resource hogger as it always attempts to connect to internet to acquire liscenses and provide live infomation for any files you play.

there is several other media players much better and less resource hogs.
I use media player classic for movies as it plays all types.. winamp is great for mp3 and streaming media with its Media library, it connects very smoothly to either tv stations or radio, I use the free version too.

defragging can do wonders,  chkdsk fixes any inconsistancies on the hdd..
if you deleted the temporary internet files and >>>"" reduced the cache set to store these temporary files"" <<<< this especially

maybe it is simply the amount of running programs or when you played the WMV file. Media player ten uses a lot indeed especially opening and connects to the internet<<and that is really key it connects to the internet to check for anymore inforamtion when you play a file.

best wishes Merete

Uninstalling the nvidia drivers is drastic, I agree, and from experience the machine is pretty unusable without them (just scrolling down on a web page takes a long time).

As suggested by Carl above, download "Process Explorer" from sysinternals, it will give you a much better view than task manager.  Check if it is deferred procedure calls that are causing the problem.  If it is, you can use a tool from Microsoft called RATTV3 to pinpoint the device causing the deferred procedure calls, which in my case was VIDEOPRT.SYS.  This lead me to the video card and after uninstalling the drivers, the issue went away.
Helix_the_II  hows it going, could you come please and provide any feedback, or at least say good bye lol. Ask for a refund award any points for effort.

Regards Merete
Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
The topic isn't abandoned, I honestly haven't found much of a solution. It's an obscure hard to diagnose problem that would probably be hard to analzye even when at the PC. I'm considering my option to format the system and reinstall. Since my O/S is on a seperate smaller HD than my content, it shouldn't be too much of a hassel. I'll give out the points to whomever gives me the "best" suggestion on how to change my registry information so that the content on the warehouse hard drive functions correctly on the newly formatted O/S hard drive, short of total reinstall.. (In a previous post a long time ago I mentioned I had something that required fifteen+ hours to install again, so I'd like to avoid it, if possible)

And if not, I'll just close the topic.

Thank you for your help, everyone, especially Merete. :)

greetings Helix_the_II lol
I'll give out the points to whomever gives me the "best" suggestion on how to >>change my registry information <<
that is called flushing the bios or esetting the bios,
How to Flush Your BIOS
Clearing the BIOS's internal memory

Step two: now that the regestry is clean.Hopefully that is what you mean??
Ghost the hdd.
>>so that the content on the warehouse hard drive functions correctly on the newly formatted O/S hard drive, short of total reinstall.. <<

This guide presents what many consider the ultimate back-up strategy. It is based on features found in Norton Ghost, a hard drive imaging/cloning software program developed by Symantec.

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Helix_the_IIAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your time and friendliness, Merete. The points are your's, my friend.
awe cheers Helix_the_II  my pleasure. ;)
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