CPU being hogged

I am having a problem running my laptop in Normal mode.  It will boot up and sorta run, but it runs very very slow.  

When I hit ctrl/Alt/delete and try to bring up the "task mangager", it will pop up after an hour or so.  It will show the applications window, but it just won't display the processes window.  I can see the CPU is "pegged" at 100% constantly, just don't know what is hogging the CPU.  I hoped to see the list and see what was running on the CPU all the time. But no luck with the task manager list.  

I have been able to run in Safe mode AND Safe mode with networking and it runs fine.  I just don't know what to do next in Safe mode (or any other way) to see what the real problem is.

It had been running fine upto a few days ago.  No hardware changes have been made, the only software I had downloaded was the PalTalk application "paltalkscene.  I used the application one day and the problem started.  May just be a coincidence, I don't know.  Anyway, I have completey uninstalled paltalkscene, and problem is the same.

Any advice on what to try next to see what is hogging the CPU,  then fix the problem, so I can run in Normal mode again.  
Let me know if I could provide any additional information.

Thanks,
Mike
NOTE: I am running XP SP2 on a dell inspiron 6000 1.74Ghz with 500 MB ram
 
mike_reynoldsAsked:
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rettif9DaleCommented:
The simplest solution is to use System Restore. Choose F8 at boot then select Safe Mode. After log in at the Yes/No option choose No This will take you to System Restore where you can restore your computer to an earlier state. User files you have created in the mean time should not be affected. Follow the prompts and choose a restore point on the calendar prior to the time when the errors began.
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jhyieslaCommented:
It might take a while, but you could run msconfig which will allow you to turn off many startup items.  Once you are able to get to the RUN command, enter in msconfig. Once it opens up click on the Services tab and check the Hide all Microsoft Services. This will leave you with only third part services. Disable them all unless there is something that is critical to the computer running.  Then go to the Startup tab and disable them all.  Then reboot.  Your system will hopefully work OK. If it does, then enable one at a time until you find the problem.  If the computer still hangs up with everything disabled, then either to what the other expert has recommended or try doing a Windows Repair from the install disk.  If you do the repair, you want the one that should be available to you after you accept the license agreement.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
Rettif9,
I tried the system restore.  I tried multiple time with multiple starting dates, back as far as it allowed.  Each time it indicated that Restore was imcomplete and No Changes were made, and as expected the problem seems to be the same, very very slow.

One thing new that I noticed during this attempt was a breifly displayed window saying "Apoint.exe DLL failed to initialized". Then it shut down windows. I did this 3 of the 5 times I tried a different restore date.

The day the problem started, a window flashed on the screen very quickly, as I powered down the last time before the problem started.  but I couldn't quite read it, it happened so fast.  In hindsight, I think this is what flashed. (The laptop does have an ALPS touchpad and it seems to be working fine, other then this message))

Maybe this ia a clue or a piece of info that suggests what to do next.  Let me know what you think, I have to step out for a few hours, and will check as soon as I'm back.

Thanks,
Mike,

jhyiesla: I'll complete this path first, then review you comment more fully.
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jhyieslaCommented:
If you can get the laptop to a point where it's usable, you might check the Device Manager to make sure that all of the hardware is recognized.  Even if it is, if you have a driver disk, you might want to try and reinstall of the drivers for the hardware that came with the system.  Especially if the msconfig solution doesn't work, it might be a driver issue and replacing them might be less painful than doing the repair.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
jyyiesla,
I am able to get my laptop usable in Safe mode with Networking ( but not in normal mode). I'm not sure I have my driver disk.  I will look around.

Using the device manager, it looks like all hardware is recognized, Including the Alps Touchpad.  although, I'm not quiet sure what unrecognized hardware would show up as.

Based on my last feedback: Does it make sense to use Device Manager/Action/Update_Driver, to retrieve the latest ALPS driver(s), while in Safe Mode.  [presuming I can't find my driver disk]?
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jhyieslaCommented:
Wouldn't hurt. Many devices don't show in safe mode because the drivers aren't activated, but since you see it, probably reloading the drivers wouldn't hurt.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
I  cannot find the driver disk, so i believe the only proposal left is jhyiesla's suggestion to run MSconfig and disable all Microsoft and third-party services.  Then once it is verified to work with all these service turned off,  turn one service back on, one at a time, until it stops working again.  This will identify the problem process.

That will be a bit time consuming, so I will wait a bit to try this and see if there are any other suggestions that I should try first.  

Bottom line is that I am trying to identify the process that is hogging the CPU!  I will do this suggestion unless there is a more straight forward approach.

thanks,
MIke
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ilnycCommented:
Maybe the new software is conflicting with your antivirus software. Or maybe it has spyware components.  You need to identify the startup process or service that is causing the problem.  A very useful freeware I often use is called "hijackthis".  You can run it, and google its entries and see what are the ones are from Pal Talk.

http://download.cnet.com/Trend-Micro-HijackThis/3000-8022_4-10227353.html

So looks like the software is acquired by Trend Micro. But it is still freeware.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
jhyiesla: Should I run msconfig in Normal mode or Safe mode.  I just tried to run it in normal mode without success.  Took about 6 hrs to get to that point and then just froze in the Start menu once I hit RUN.  Please advise

ilnyc: Should I run Hijackthis, while in Normal mode or Safe mode.  It is very slow it seems to do anything is Normal Mode.  Would be best in safe mode, if that is still useful. Please let me know.

I presume I should run Hijackthis, before runnng MSconfig?  Any advice appreciated!

Thanks,
Mike
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jhyieslaCommented:
Boot into Safe Mode and disable all the non-essential things as I outlined above and then reboot into normal mode.

If this still doesn't work, then it's not a service or other background that's starting and your best bet may be to pull off your data and completely reinstall Windows.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
jhyiesla:  Your suggestion allowed me to identify what seems to be the problem.  A startup  item "qttask" which is some QuickTime multimedia player exe.

Should I just keep it disabled and do nothing else, everything seems to work fine now.  Or should I try to remove it from "somewhere".  

Thanks,
Mike
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jhyieslaCommented:
Not sure that you need that particular program... think that it has to do with QT updating itself. You could probably just leave it unchecked in the msconfig app.

The other thing you could do is look to see if it's in the RUN key in the registry.

Think it's HKLM->Software->Microsoft->Windows->CurrentVersion->Run.  If you see it in there, you can just delete the Key on the right-hand pane that references qttask.  But as I said, keeping it unchecked should also do the trick.

If you use QT a lot and want to keep it updated, you could also uninstall it, reboot and then reinstall.
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mike_reynoldsAuthor Commented:
jhyiesla,
Thanks for providing a clear and accurate answer so quickly.  Your help and follow-up responsiveness is much appreciated.
Mike
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