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Topic: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

  1. #1

    Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    Windows XP on my Core 2 Duo laptop started having idle CPU usage of about 80%. Rebooting doesn't help but in the safe mode everything seems normal. I've searched the net and there are a lot of people with similar problems but the solutions they have found don't seem to help me. Most of the people having this kind of problems are playing games or using P2P software but I don't and my computer is optimized for music.

    The usual suspects eliminated:
    My hard drives are in DMA mode, none of them has changed to PIO mode.
    I can't find any kind of hardware failure but it's a laptop so I can't be certain.
    Disabling network doesn't help.
    I'm pretty sure it isn't a virus or spyware.

    In Task Manager the CPU hogs seem to be "System" and "explorer.exe" processes but pretty much every process seem to be overly active. My guess is that something is jammed and the operating system constantly calling for the jammed thing causes the CPU usage. I've tried reinstalling and disabling different parts but nothing helps.

    I've downloaded Process Explorer but I haven't really gotten the hang of it. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Decatur Illinois

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    Have you tried running msconfig and killing all the startup items? Just a suggestion.


  3. #3

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    System process taking too much CPU are not easy difficult issues to resolve. Have you looked in your Event Viewer SystemLogor AppsLog to see if you have any errors reported there?

    If so, try the Event ID number to support.microsoft.com or Eventid.net.
    Nicolas Roy

  4. #4

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    I used to have a similar problem, I believe with explorer.exe taking 50% of the CPU. I fixed it, but it wasn't a virus or spyware, just a problem with windows.

    I'm trying to remember how I fixed it... I think I disabled the "windows automatic updates" (found in your windows security center), and that fixed it.

  5. #5

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    A friend of mine had the exact same problem with a Dell Inspiron 9100. I did a quick search and found that many other people were also suffering from the same problem.

    This might not apply to you, but try checking the grills where the fans are located. It may be that they are blocked and simply need cleaning! If you're laptop is getting very hot, then this may well be the case.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    In task manager you can safely kill every process that is listed as owned by your user name other than explorer.exe.
    Taskmgr.exe is of course the task manager so leave that one running.

    Do that and then have a look.

    Also, autoruns.exe ( google it ) will show you every running process.
    Save it to root of C: and make shortcut on your desktop.
    Launch it once, tweak the options to "hide microsoft entries"
    Close it
    reopen it.
    Have a look for anything suspicious.
    You can google most of the entries and get info on what they really are.

    Just basic other stuff not related to your specific situation.
    Turn off everything adobe, real, quicktime, or do yourself 1 better and uninstall:
    realplayer, quicktime, acrobat reader and get the clean ones that do it better...
    namely ... quicktime alternative, real alternative, foxit reader.

    Open Office 2.0 is very nice also and actually I believe is cleaner definately more elegant and highly competative with even the newest M$FT Office Pro

    Nortons, Symantec, McAffee = Bloatware bigtime hogs oink oink.

    AVG free is the way to go.
    or get it from download.com

    It's lightweight and very smooth, although I'd never run any anti-V on my daw partitions, if I had to, this would be the only one.
    I only use it on this internet machine.

    If you've by change, gotten stuck with IE7 then possibly that is the culprit.
    I've seen it cripple a few pcs. Uninstalling it immediately brought the affected machines back up to normal performance.
    It can be removed in add remove programs, and then the next obvious thing is always disable automatic updates and do updates manually and be very selective about what you allow to be installed.

  7. #7

    Re: Windows XP idle CPU usage at 80%

    There are lots of problems with Windows and dual core machines (see my previous posts on this subject). It is important to remember that Windows XP and all prior versions were originally released before there was such a thing as a dual core processor. And VISTA is still relatively new.

    If you are using XP, here's the one thing I found (after two years of trying, six different computers, MS, Intel and everyone else you can imagine being completely baffled about how to handle the problem): Don't use more than 2 GB of RAM. Reducing my memory from 4GB to 3GB did nothing. Reducing it to 2GB resolved the problem. Don't ask me why, My best guess is that Windows code gets a bit flaky when you have that much RAM (or applications and hardware developers don't know how to handle it).

    If you are using 2GB or less, or are running some version of VISTA, then welcome to my nightmare. Search the web and you will find literally thousands of posts about this, lots of contradictory theories about what is causing the problem (and what to do about it.) Maybe one of them will work for you.

    The only thing I know that works for sure is Win XP on a single core machine, or Win XP on a dual core with 2GB or less of RAM.

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