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System process taking up 100% CPU sporadically on Exchange server

Windows server 2003 running on very nice hardware uptime of over 200 days, running Exchange 2003 and McAfee Enterprise with all the proper config and exclusions.  Yesterday, the "system" process starting to sporadically take up 100% of the CPU resources on the server.  Only other software on the server are the HP tools and our Spam filter (Sunbelt Ninja).  We've had no problems like this at all in the nearly 1 year since this server has been running.  There are no other indications of a problem and no other software installed.  This seems to happen sporadically without a pattern.  When it happens, users get a frozen outlook, remote access to the server is stopped until CPU usage returns to normal.  Anyone have any ideas what could be causing it and what steps I could take to fix it?
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MCPJoe
Asked:
MCPJoe
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1 Solution
 
johnb6767Commented:
Process Explorer for Windows v10.21
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/ProcessExplorer.mspx

Double click the system process. Then Select the Threads tab, and see what .exe or .dll is using the CPU, and then select it by double clicking it....and copying/pasting the call stack here.....

What I would also be curious to see is the Interupts, and the DPC's in Process Explorer. If thats what is using the CPU (not seeen in the Task manager), then you have either a HW problem, or a Driver problem.

Might need to just let it run, and wait for the thing to respond again.... Also, if you leave the threads tab open, you can suspend process underneath (for testing) without killing them...
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MCPJoeAuthor Commented:
Ok, I ran process explorer but didn't find anything listed that was eating up all the CPU usage.  PE would list the CPU usage next to the "System" object, but not show me what under that was using up the CPU.  The server has been up for almost 300 days, so I'm going to reboot, and then launch Process Explorer again and keep an eye on the server.  
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MCPJoeAuthor Commented:
Ok, no problems so far after reboot, so I guess I jumped the gun on this one.  Uptime was 245 days after checking, so it was long overdue.  Thanks for the info though, your suggestion is still the right way to troubleshoot this issue.

Thanks
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johnb6767Commented:
Did it load anything under the SYSTEM process?

Or was it there, just without CPU Usage?
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MCPJoeAuthor Commented:
It was there with everything else under it, and I selected the option to view the process tree, but during the peeks of CPU usage, process explorer would lock up as well and I couldn't get the info on what was taking up all the CPU usage...
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johnb6767Commented:
That almost seems like a HW issue, if the whoole systems locks up. Next time it happens (hopefully not for a long time) see if the CAPS LOCK, and the NUM LOCK keys still respond...
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MCPJoeAuthor Commented:
great idea, I'll do that.  Thanks again.
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johnb6767Commented:
Anytime!!
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