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View Full Version : High CPU usage all of a sudden, PC slowdown



JForce
27-11-2006, 04:30 PM
Hi all,

First post, although I've lurked and read the magazine often:)

I have an Acer Ferrari 4000 notebook, I've had it for about 2 years now.

A month or two ago I did a reformat/reinstall of the factory software and simply copied my files/documents back, as it had a lot of random programs I'd downloaded etc, and I like to "refresh" every couple of years with a fresh install.

Yesterday whilst watching a video on YouTube the mouse began "stuttering", and the HDD light wouldn't go away. The PC is now performing very poorly, with programs taking a long time to open etc.

It's an AMD Turion64 processor, 2GB RAM, Ati Radeon X700 with 128mb of RAM, running Windows XP Pro.

I run Norton 2006, and also Zonealarm and a router firewall. I scan using Spybot and Ad Aware regularly.

I have restarted several times, but no change. I have a lot of programs that start up automatically, but even after closing them I notice no change.

I monitored the taskbar performance indicator for a while, and CPU usage stayed in the 70-95% even at "idle". However no unusual processes were running, or appeared to be using any more CPU than normal.

Any ideas? I'm beginning to think it's a hardware issue, but I know that of course it might be difficult to pinpoint so am loathe to take in for servicing due to the delays etc.

Any thoughts, ideas? Any recommendations for diagnostic steps and/or programs I could install to try and pinpoint an issue?

I've left it running a full Norton system scan while I'm at work, but to be honest this whole thing sucks :( :D

jesse_jax
27-11-2006, 04:44 PM
first of all get rid of norton and get a real anti virus, norton is a piece of crap.

now you probably have a virus, in task manager, you can see how much cpu processes are running, any processes using lots? chances of it being hardware are slim but you could check your bios to see if you have accidentally down clocked your cpu to like 200mhz(happened to me once).

once you get a real antivirus like avg or nod32 etc run some scans and see if theres virus', try all of this then tell us more info.

hsv-b0y
27-11-2006, 04:45 PM
I had a problem similar to this, caused the the SVOHOST.exe virus. Press ctrl alt del and see if SVOHOST is in the file this, if so then that is the cause.
Note: There will also be SVCHOST.exe, do not confuse them.

Master_Frost
27-11-2006, 05:52 PM
Norton's AND Zonealarm. The most resource hogging Antivirus and firewall running together, lol got to love it.

Beyond removing those two gems, have you installed any codec packs?

memphis
27-11-2006, 06:16 PM
Go to www.download.com and www.filehippo.com for some free and good anti- spyware programes.

The ones I have are:

AVG Anti-Spyware,Ad-Aware SE Personal,a-squared Free,Spybot-Search & Destroy,Spyware Doctor,SpywareBlaster,Windows Defender,SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition-(does a very good job,but takes a very long time to do a complete system check,took over 1 hour to do mine,but it found things the others did not find.)

For disk defrags I use: AusLogics Disk Defrag -(nice and quick) and to clean up the waste and other junk on the computer I use: CCleaner.-(helps keep the pc running good).

For my Firewall I use ZoneAlarm Free Edition on stealth mode.
For my Anti-virus I use AVG Free Edition 7.5.430-(the new one).

Remember to always do a restore point before doing anything,and if unsure on what is safe not safe to get rid of do a google search on it first or ask at this website or others or leave it as is if really unsure.

Everything is free and I got from those websites I posted above,and have helped me out alot in finding stuff.:thumbs:

pctek
27-11-2006, 06:25 PM
Yesterday whilst watching a video on YouTube the mouse began "stuttering", and the HDD light wouldn't go away. The PC is now performing very poorly, with programs taking a long time to open etc.

I run Norton 2006, and also Zonealarm and a router firewall. I scan using Spybot and Ad Aware regularly.


Ignore them, yes Nortons is a resource hog but it does do what its supposed to. I doubt its a virus.

Did you update the chipset and graphics drivers when you did your fresh install?
Have you tried and older (or newer) ATI driver?

Master_Frost
27-11-2006, 06:29 PM
Ignore them, yes Nortons is a resource hog but it does do what its supposed to. I doubt its a virus.

Did you update the chipset and graphics drivers when you did your fresh install?
Have you tried and older (or newer) ATI driver?

Yes yes we all know you love Zone Alarm! All the Enthusiast forums are just full of satisfied users (sarcasm).

mark c
27-11-2006, 06:30 PM
Norton's AND Zonealarm. The most resource hogging Antivirus and firewall running together, lol got to love it.

Beyond removing those two gems, have you installed any codec packs?

I have never thought of nor had any experience of ZA being a resource hog.

And no, before you ask, I have not run exhaustive tests.

Master_Frost
27-11-2006, 06:39 PM
I have never thought of nor had any experience of ZA being a resource hog.

And no, before you ask, I have not run exhaustive tests.

:(


I have tested ZA dam near every new version over the years (always thinking maybe its better now as its free!). I find the only people that recommend ZA are those that have tried nothing else.

It port forwards like crap (VERY well known issue), making it the least suitable firewall for P2P users. It clearly uses more processor time than firewalls like Outpost or Kerio. I can only respectfully suggest you run some "exhaustive tests".

It is OK for non power users, but it is still a resource hog.

mark c
27-11-2006, 06:54 PM
LOL fair enough Master Frost. You're right
I have never tried out anything else and also, I am not a P2P user. And I am not so advanced as to be constantly monitoring my ports.

Thank you for your output............m

JForce
27-11-2006, 09:11 PM
It's not Zone Alarm causing the issues. My processes don't show it using any more CPU than normal.

However I have noticed that "System Idle Process" is consitently at the top, using between 60-95% CPU nonstop. Does that seem odd?

JForce
27-11-2006, 09:17 PM
Bit of Googling led me to this:
http://kadaitcha.cx/high_cpu.html

"Note that the System Idle Process is supposed to have a high CPU usage rate at idle. This process accounts for unused system time. If your system is responsive and the System Idle Process CPU usage is high, then you do not have a CPU usage issue."

So I'm back to wondering about viruses and spyware etc, although I've never had a virus before so I regard my system as reasonably secure (I'm aware it's not that simple but you get what I mean)

A full Norton system scan picked up nothing. I'm running a full scan with Ad-Aware, Spybot, and MS malicious software removal tool, but it's taking ages due to the system performance issue itself.

Any other ideas? Is there an online virus scanner worth using? Can I install a free alternative to Norton without uninstalling Norton? I'm aware that not all virus products seem to pick up everything....it's the reason I use 2 spyware scanners etc.

Erayd
27-11-2006, 09:53 PM
If your problem is caused by excessive disk activity, could it be something as simple as Norton scanning the system for viruses in the background? The CPU and disk usage symptoms you describe could be consistant with this.

zqwerty
27-11-2006, 10:41 PM
Can you upload an alt/prntscrn of your Task Manager Processes like this:

http://nz.neopages.org/demo/if1/files/TManXPpro.png

http://nz.neopages.org/demo/if1/

This is how my computer looks whilst I am online actually doing the task. Yours should be similar but of course not the same as you will have some different programs than me.

gum digger
28-11-2006, 12:35 AM
Norton i belive eats up resources BUT jforce use to have norton before (guessing this because it came with your program recovery disk) and it didnt use the processor that much before. its only now.

I have always come accross this problem too, i have ran disk defrag programs (O&O) spyware programs and antivirus programs to detect any activity which uses alot of system resources. but at the end found nothing.
Someone also told me it could be my antivirus or due to fancy themes and xp's nasty effects or installing many programs.
But i use nod32 and windows classic theme. although i do have alot of programs installed.

so what i am saying is it either could be due to many programs installed or Norton running scans on the background while your working(check task schedule)

Now i will leave the experts to comment on this.

Strommer
28-11-2006, 06:29 AM
I may have missed something in this thread but how about hitting Ctrl + Alt + Del >> Processes >> Mem Usage, to see what the resource hog is?

pctek
28-11-2006, 08:04 AM
It port forwards like crap (VERY well known issue), making it the least suitable firewall for P2P users. It clearly uses more processor time than firewalls like Outpost or Kerio.

Ah. Well I don't care about port forwarding.

And its very effective so I'll stick with it.
Like I said - mine is an OLD version, I have seen all the complaints about nwere ones.

JForce
28-11-2006, 12:39 PM
The only process in task manager showing as using large amounts of CPU is the System Idle Process, which research shows SHOULD be doing this.

So late last night I started running ad-aware, took ages, found nothing.

Ran spybot, took ages, found nothing.

Ran MS malicious software removal tool, took ages, found nothing.

BTW these took ages due to the now painfully slow performance of the system.

So then I figured ok, I'll update as many drivers/BIOS as I can. Went to the Acer site, downloaded them, started doing them.

It was about this time I fell asleep. When I woke up about an hour later in the same position....it seemed to be working. I close the laptop and crawled to bed.

The proof will be when I get home, if it's better. If it is, I have no idea what I did:lol:

And if it isn't I still have some drivers to go.

But it ISN'T a Norton thing...Norton isn't running anything in the background that I can find. I even disabled Norton and noticed no change.

It's NOT a Zone Alarm thing. I shut that down and didn't notice a change.

FrankS
28-11-2006, 02:15 PM
Is following of any help

http://ask-leo.com/svchost_and_svchostexe_crashs_cpu_maximization_vir uses_exploits_and_more.html

KiwiTT_NZ
28-11-2006, 02:27 PM
VSMON.exe is always running even if you shut ZoneAlarm down.

Nortons Realtime monitoring scans all executing files, very slowly.

zqwerty
28-11-2006, 03:26 PM
Download this program to see what is running on your computer and have total control over them, caution, be careful what you turn off:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/Autoruns.mspx

The only time my computer did anything like what you are saying is when I added hundreds of addresses to the Hosts file as a way of not allowing users to access the sites. Had to take them all out again as the computer slowed to a stand still and took about half an hour to even start up!

JForce
28-11-2006, 08:15 PM
Well so far I've been unable to fix it.

Something I hadn't noticed before:
Windows takes twice as long to load as before.

And after a restart, I got the old "Windows has recovered from a serious error" etc.

It says I have a driver conflict or driver error. Of course it doesn't tell me what with.

I don't know what to do. I haven't installed anything recently, hardware or otherwise. Anyone know of a program that can detect driver conflicts/errors?

zqwerty
28-11-2006, 08:37 PM
I don't know what is going on with your computer but if I were you I would backup anything important you can't afford to lose to CDr or USB flash drive before you go any further with repair attempts, whilst it is still running. You still haven't posted a pic of your Task Manager Processes.

It's a notebook and maybe it is suffering from being banged around or something similar.

In the end after backing up maybe you should try a repair install.

Perhaps your HDD is on the way out.

Can you hear a lot of disk activity? Any strange sounds you don't normally have?

You could do a ram check with:

http://www.memtest86.com/

Get this and follow the instructions, maybe you have spyware:

http://forums.majorgeeks.com/showthread.php?t=38752

Post the log back here.

"it's the reason I use 2 spyware scanners" what are you using, this could be causing conflicts.

JForce
28-11-2006, 09:40 PM
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4234/processes1co9.png

Task/Processes list.

As for the 2 spyware programs, I usually only run Ad-aware, but I installed Spybot SINCE the problem started, so the issue isn't a conflict there.

The laptop hasn't taken any knocks, isn't making any strange noises, isn't running any warmer than normal.

Appreciate the advice too guys, keep it coming.

I tried the Windows Autorun viewer, but couldn't identify anything unusual. All the files looked legit.

I'm now at that horrible stage of considering a total reformat.:(

zqwerty
28-11-2006, 10:42 PM
Aaaaaargh, no wonder it is slow to start. You need to reduce that Process List, why on earth would you have so many progs running like that?

Use this:

http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml

and whilst you're there get:

http://www.mlin.net/StartupMonitor.shtml

Vince
29-11-2006, 03:24 AM
[QUOTE
I'm now at that horrible stage of considering a total reformat.:([/QUOTE]

Before you take such drastic action try disabling 'MSMSGS.EXE and MSNMSGR.EXE'. My XP Home system doesn't like them at all.:(

zqwerty is right, you do have a LOT of processes running.

Strommer
29-11-2006, 06:09 AM
JForce I agree, you need to cut down the number of running processes. You can use Window's msconfig.exe to control start up programs, but this (and the programs listed above) will NOT find all processes running.

What I have done is to Google each running process that I am not sure about. For example from your list, do a Google search for "acrotray.exe" with perhaps the words "start up". You will find blogs or forum advice (like PF1) or dedicated Start Up web sites that will explain if that process is really necessary (a vital system process) or can be shut down. Keep in mind that you will not have to Google every single process - this is because eventually you will find a dedicated web site that lists ALL processes running, with a description and advice for each one.

pctek
29-11-2006, 07:12 AM
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4234/processes1co9.png



As for the 2 spyware programs, I usually only run Ad-aware, but I installed Spybot SINCE the problem started, so the issue isn't a conflict there.
(

Spybot is better. Run BOTH!

SolMiester
29-11-2006, 07:49 AM
Ah. Well I don't care about port forwarding.

And its very effective so I'll stick with it.
Like I said - mine is an OLD version, I have seen all the complaints about nwere ones.

If I was that worried about system resources, I would use a hardware firewall, with port forwarding such as the one on my router and use the software for outgoing concerns!

Thomas01
29-11-2006, 08:02 PM
Gosh your problems seem like the ones I was having. See my thread "nVIEW desktop manager problems"
Since disabling nVIEW all my problems seem to have disappeared. (Famous last words). I'm no expert in this sort of problem but it might be worthwhile checking.
Tom