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Looking for sticking point of high CPU utilization

We have an XP desktop with an application which has previously run with no problems.  Recently, the application, when started, hangs with CPU usage at 100% as seen with Task Manager.  We know the application is showing the high cpu but we need to understand where exactly is the conflict.

If we boot the PC into safe mode then the application runs as expected.  I’m guessing that perhaps a windows component which runs at normal boot up and not during a safe boot is conflicting with application.  Did a Windows dll get updated?

I thought I might be able to use a SysInternals tool to locate the source of conflict but I am not familiar enough with the tools to understand the steps required.

Any ideas on how I can locate the sticking point using SysInternals or any other method you can recommend?
1 Solution
All we can do is give you vague help without knowing what software you're using.  If it runs fine in safe mode it may have an issue with a Windows or 3rd party Software, Driver, or Service.  Try using the msconfig utility by going to Start and clicking Run.  Then typing msconfig and clicking ok.  Then inside the utility go to the startup tab and disable everything except the program you're trying to run.  Then restart the computer and see if it still goes to 100% cpu.  If not then one of your programs is the culprit.

I've seen Antivirus Software do this by scanning a file during the operation and the program hangs up because of it.  You could go in and white list the program folder so your AV doesn't scan it.  Those are just some ideas being I don't know what software you're working with.
If you haven't installed or changed any settings between the time of the program working and freezing, you could also try to use system restore to roll back to a point before you were experiencing the problem.  It could be a windows update that is incompatible with the software that you are running.  However, windows xp is out of the support period so there shouldn't be any updates but it could also undo any changes that were made that you were not aware of.
While these aren't tutorials as such, you'll get a good idea of the capabilities of the Sysinternals tools and how they can be used to troubleshoot real-world cases here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/
dalvaAuthor Commented:
Didn't realize replies were going into my spam folder.  Sorry about the delay.

We tried everything we could think of including msconfig and restore points.  In the end we ended up re-imaging the PC.  It corrected the issue but I'll never understand why.  Hopefully we won't see the issue again.

Thanks for all your replies.  I will close this out with no real solution other than rebuild the PC.
dalvaAuthor Commented:
We were trying to avoid the rebuild but in the end it was the only viable solution.

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