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Community Newsletter: Q&A forum: CPU keeps going to 100%--any suggestions to remedy?

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) February 14, 2008 3:51 PM PST

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CPU keeps going to 100%--any suggestions to remedy?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 2/14/08 3:51 PM


Hi, I'm running Windows XP Pro SP2 and I have developed a
problem where by the CPU keeps going to 100% and either
freezes the PC or slows it down to virtually standstill. I
have searched on the net and found that quite a few people
have this problem. I tried some of the fixes suggested, but
they didn't work. I have to reboot the PC and then its fine
for awhile. What could possibly be causing this problem? Is
this a problem with the operating system or is it a hardware
problem? I hope you can help with this problem. Cheers!

--Submitted by Anthony K.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:

CPU Usage Stuck at 100%

There are many things that can cause a computer to show 100% when you display the CPU usage. Spyware, viruses, bad drivers or damaged programs can all lead to this type of problem. In some cases, it can be a known issue with your specific model computer, so you should first check the website for your computer to see if you see anything there regarding this issue. If not, then there are several ways to approach this problem.

1. BACKUP Your Data Sorry but I can never say this enough. You should never work on a computer without first backing up any critical data.

2. As mentioned above, check your manufacturers website for any known problems with your specific computer model.

3. System Restore If the problem just started within the last few days, there is always a fair chance that running a Windows System Restore and setting your computer back a few days may solve your problem. But if you have had the problem for awhile OR you have installed a bunch of programs or updates recently then this may not work at all. System Restore can be found by going to START > ALL PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > SYSTEM TOOLS > SYSTEM RESTORE. Note: I would not recommend going back more than a week or so.

4. Virus and Spyware I can only assume that you already did this but a computer that is infected with viruses and/or spyware can exhibit this type of behavior. So make sure that your computer is totally clean by running full virus and Spyware scans. You may even want to double check by running one of the many free online virus scans.

5. Identify the Process - See if you can identify a specific process that is using the most CPU percentage. Use Ctrl+Alt+Del to open task manager and click on the processes tab. Scroll down through the list for any process that has the highest CPU percentage. You can try to end that process and see if that helps and then Google the name of the process to help figure out what it is. You may luck out and find the exact program to uninstall or update to fix the problem. But, in most cases it will turn out to be one of the many generic windows processes and may not really give you any real clue as to the exact problem.

6. Disconnect Peripherals Shut down your computer and unplug all external devices such as Printers, Scanners and Backup Drives. Leave only your Mouse, Keyboard and Internet Connection plugged in and reboot your computer to see if the problem is still there. If the problem goes away, plug things back in, one at a time until you have isolated the problem device.

7. Shut Down Startup Items Use msconfig to Shut down all startup programs and reboot the computer to see if the problem goes away. If it does then go back and methodically turn back ON individual startup items until the problem returns. Once you isolate the offending program, you can Google the name of the file to find out which program it is related to. To use MSCONFIG click on START and then RUN and type msconfig in the run box and then click on OK. Click on the STARTUP tab and you will be presented with a list of items that are going to run automatically every time the computer starts. You can select or deselect any items the you want to start when your computer boots. Now click on OK and reboot your computer. You can go back anytime and run msconfig to turn back on any items that you choose until you find which one is causing your problem.

8. Update all drivers for your computer Go to the website for your computer and download and install the latest drivers for your computer. Start with Chipset, Video, and Sound drivers first, followed by network, modem and others.

9. Update Bios In some cases the Bios may need updating, but I would stay away from this unless you really know what you are doing, because you can permanently damage your computer if you mess up during this process.

10. Problematic Programs There are many programs that have been known to cause this type of problem. For example some earlier versions of Kodak Easy Share software had this problem. Norton and some other antivirus software can become corrupt and cause this issue as well as software and drivers associated with many All-In-One printers. You should suspect any program that calls home for updates as well as file sharing programs like kazza and limewire. Other VOIP software such as Skype can also be a problem. I would suggest uninstalling any programs that you do not need at this moment to help isolate the problem. NOTE: Do not uninstall anything you want that you do have a way to reinstall such as having the original CDs or downloads.

11. Full Recovery or Reinstallation If all else fails then you may have to resort to a full system Recovery or a reinstallation of Windows. This would be a last resort, but can rejuvenate a computer to like new condition and for some problems, may even be less time consuming.

Good Luck and Please keep us posted as to what you find.

Wayland Computer

Submitted by waytron

If you have any additional suggestions or experience of your own to share with Anthony, please click the reply link and post away. Please be detailed as possible in your answers. Thank you!

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