Windows xp running 100% cpu

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Hardware
Microsoft Windows
My grandson has a Dell xp he has asked me to help him with. He thought he had a virus, machine was running very slow. He did google search and found some files that he was supposed to delete and did so, turned out to be a necessary file. He decided to start over, and reload xp(home edition). Problem still existed. That's the point I became involved. He had two versions of xp at that point. After loading some spyware and virus checking software and finding nothing, I thought we would start again. I first ran some software to check the hard drive speed and it runs as fast as most of the pc's using IDE drives I have in my office. I first tried to do a "R" for repair of the xp, but problem still persisted. I formatted the hard drive and reloaded the xp software. It took over 8 hours. It would copy files from the cd for about 2 or 3 minutes(did not really time it), then hesitate for up to 10 minutes, then continue on to load a few more files and repeat the stall. XP finally installed and when starting up, is very slow. No other software has been loaded. Even screen displays are slow. Reason is below. I brought up the task manager right after a boot up and the system is using 100% CPU time. Even task manager process shows using cpu time when just it is running. Some other processes also show time, did not write them all down. The system idle only showing 0 to 3% most of the time. The cpu usage varies between about 3 or 4 processes. In looking at the task manager on this pc I'm writing this note from, the cpu % runs from 0 to 6% with system idle making up the rest of the cpu usage. If I can answer any questions to help provide information, I will do so. I have been mostly a lurker in this group as I don't read the messages but every 30 min or so and by then anything I might have been able to contribute has been said. I have learned a lot, hoping to learn some more. TIA, Don

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Hi Don,

Reviewing the behaviour of the Dell P.C that you’ve described. I feel that the Hard Disk is not normal and needs to be replaced. The CPU usage is normal. The System idle time taking 90+ % of the CPU usage is also normal. But the P.C is still sluggish and the Reinstalltion of XP also took 8 odd hours. This only indicates that the Hard disk is in quesion now. Maybe the Dell P.C is still in warantee and that you can have the Hard disk relaced?

Praveen.

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  • VenPhil
    Hi Don, I agree with Praveen, and would add that there might be a problem on the motherboard having to do with the disk controller. But it sounds like an intermittent disk problem. Call Dell. They're really good at diagnosing problems, and replacing parts. I've used Dell computers for over 10 years, and am very impressed with their service (not to put down other vendors such as IBM, Toshiba, Compaq, etc., whose computers friends of mine use and are satisfied with their service too). Phil
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  • Rruss5328
    If system is under warranty, then get replacement from Dell. If not, put drive in ziplok sandwich bag and place overnight in freezer; it should be good enough to pull data off of for about twenty minutes the next morning. Pull down an image of a CD-ROM that you can boot from and recover data from the marginal hard drive. Use the freezer trick until you get all essential data. If not under warranty, then run diagnostics on the system to isolate whether it is motherboard or drive. If it is the drive, then replace it; if motherboard shop for a new system.
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  • Ramheka
    DID you see what process is eating up your CPU does yor son downloads Movies?
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  • Snouse
    Hi Don, It could definitely be a bad hard drive, but since it is a Dell computer, I would also check for the possibility of "bulging capacitors" on the motherboard. I'm not sure what type of machine you are dealing with - this is generally a problem on the GX270's, but can also effect other types of machines. We have had some machines with this problem and they exhibit the strange types of behavior you are describing and are very difficult to troubleshoot. Here is a link to a description and a picture of what to look for: http://www.thenakedpc.com/dan/Bulging_Capacitors/article.html Hope this helps! Susan
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  • Donw001
    Don here, let me say again. New install of xp, nothing to recover. I can copy a CD with some text files on it to the hard drive and open the files with notepad or wordpad for instance (just very slow in opening files). No software other than Windows XP home has been loaded at this point. CPU running at 100% with nothing going on except task manager (nothing to access the disk for). On all my other PC'S if I do a fresh boot and open task manager, CPU Usage runs around 2% except when a background task fires off and usage will jump for a few seconds to complete that task. While you are reading this, do a ctrl alt del and open task manager and look at cpu usage in center bottom of window. This is the cpu usage I am talking about. I ran a disk dianostics program and it basically agreed with other pc's configured same. Completed it without any problems and speed calculations were in line with other PC's. I suspect a problem with memory. Anyone know of a memory test program? The PC in question is not hooked up to network (keeping it isolated until problem solved) or internet, so will download test program to my office pc, burn a cd and take it home to test on his PC. Thanks
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  • Poppaman2
    I have seen this issue before, and have known it to result from a variety of causes. In no particular order: 1. Check function of the CD-ROM drive. I have seen bad optical drives cause this type of behaviour. especially "slimline" drives of the type found in notebooks and some SFF (Small Form Factor) computers. 2. replace the cables with known good cables of the appropriate type. 3. make sure all cables (IDE/SATA/SCSI, power, audio) are securely attached 4. If not set to use Cable Select, make sure that the CD-ROM is set to the appropriate Master/Slave setting. If, as is usual for Dell, the CD is on the secondary IDE channel (assuming of course that it is an IDE CD-ROM drive), set it for Single/Master, and any other device on the channel to "slave" 5. With the computer on, press "alt + F" to reset the BIOS, and then with ALL THREE LIGHTS on the keyboard on (Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock), press "alt + E" to reset the NVRAM as well 6. If none of the steps above offer you a solution, I would look at the system board itself, or (as is probably NOT the case) the IDE/SATA/SCSI controller as the probable cause of your problem(s)... Let us know what turns up to be the root issue....
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  • Paul144hart
    If memory were an issue, I would expect hangs. There are memory testing utils out there - google for 'memory test' to pick one. Since system is consuming all the time, I would expect a lot of re-try in reading / writing data. Is the drive activity led on all the time?
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  • Donw001
    No disk activity showing on lights. Any place else to look? TIA, Don
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  • Paul144hart
    Can you get into task manager and watch the I/O to the drives? View - select columns, I/O read, writes, other - if system is hanging on I/O (bad drive) you should see the counters running up all the time. After logging into this PC 15 minutes ago, 'system' has got 72 reads, 2312 writes, 9,604 other. Very stable. CRSS has a ton of reads, incrementing all the time, no writes.
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  • Poppaman2
    Me again - Just had a system here at work with a similar issue (Compaq Evo tower) - the RAM was bad. Replacing the memory resolved the issue. While I agree with a previous poster that RAM problems will usually manifest themselves as system hangs or BSOD's (at least to my experience they do), this particular system had symptoms so close to what you are describing, I would suggest looking into it. Why not try "borrowing" a DIMM from another system and replacing the suspect stick in your grandson's system? If the issues resolves - that of course is the problem.... Also, (and I know this sounds sort of simplistic) - check the BIOS settings - some Dell's give you the option of turning off the L2 cache, which will (of course) slow the system down substantially. Have you reset the NVRAM? Dell suggests doing that on many of their unusual problems. While it may work in only 2 - 5% of all cases, it's sort of like zapping the PRAM on a Macintosh - when it works, it's like magic..... PaulR.
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  • MeTechCufis
    If this was a memory issue, you would here a lot more activity on the hard drive as Windows XP is utilizing more Swap file space to make up for the lack of memory. Windows has a utility that you can use to check your RAM, but I really don't think it is an issue with the RAM. Here's the key question; What was your son doing before he had this problem? Did he install any new periphials? Also, you mentioned that you installed a second XP, did you overwrite the previous O/S or did you create a new partition? As for the CPU utliization, that is normal for it to spike. You should only be concerned with how much CPU time is being used if it stays up, but spikes are normal when loading services and applications. Just to help you sleep better and have confidence in your system RAM, download this utility from microsoft to a 3.5" floppy, and use it to boot the computer. It will run your RAM through a series of test. If you get the wrong values being returned, then it is either your RAM, the battery or the CPU Clock. Most retailers have the abilty to check the RAM Cards, but I recomend this tool before you go cracking the case to pull out the chips, as I am certain it is not the RAM. http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp I do belive it to be the hard drive. There are a few things you can do: Go to the manufacturers website (Dell like most manufacturers don't make their own hard drives.) and see what type of diagnostic tools they have. Download and run them. Most manufacturers also have a utility that will return the hard drive to the manufacturers specs, realligning the entire hard drive to all 1s or 0s (depending on the manufacturer.) Of course, doing that will require a lot of your time, and a reinstall of the O/S. The most important thing to find out is what your son was doing before this issue came up.
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  • AussieNovice
    Hi I had this problem on my own PC & it had me baffled as well. Turned out the problem was a faulty USB connection. (One of the kids had jammed something in it they shouldn't have!) Once i disconnected it from the motherboard, CPU went back to running normally. Worth a look anyway.
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  • VietBob
    One tool I keep at hand to help with puzzles like yours is a Knoppix Boot CD (http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html) - if the system boots fine you've just eliminated motherboard/memory/cabling issues (the computer is fine, the problem is with the HDD/Boot Sector/Windows). If not, the boot dialogue may help pinpoint the problem. Another recommendation, since it seems likely that Malware caused the problem, don't format with XP, use an old MS-DOS boot diskette or Linux (or a tool like Darik's Boot and Nuke (http://dban.sourceforge.net/) - when a Windows XP problem drove me to the point of talking to Microsoft Support on the phone, one of the techs was perusing their internal knowledge base and reported that there are Bad Things that are not wiped from a drive when formatted with the new 'DOS' provided with NT/2K/XP. While not particularly likely, this could explain the problem remaining after your re-install. Stay in touch! -Bob
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  • Alanwill
    Don, I think we can all agree that this is in fact a hardware and not software issue. Nevertheless, I don't believe it would be a hard drive related problem as that shouldn't affect CPU utilization. My personal inclination would be to say that it is related to either a defective CPU or memory. It's difficult to say for sure as with hardware symptoms could vary. I would look on google for testing applications that you can run to further diagnose the problem. I am also assuming that this machine is out of warranty as if it was calling Dell and have them walk you through the troubleshooting steps would be a lot quicker. Also, I'm sure they have some diagnostic utilities either downloadable from their website or on the drivers and utilities CD that came with the PC. A useful website you might want to check out: http://www.memtest86.com/ Good Luck, -Alan
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  • Donw001
    Don here again. I don't like threads that have no conclusion for others to gain from, so here is where my grandson is at this point. The machine is under hardware warranty, not software, so Dell will only help so much. 1. The hard drive was replaced with a new one from Dell, the Windows O/S was reloaded and the problem still exists. No more help from Dell at this point. I think we can rule out the hard drive at this point. I have run every dianostic I can find on memory, both from Dell and the Internet and none have found any problems. I am not sure we got straight story from my Grandson, the slowness he experienced in the beginning might have been from the virus, but a virus should be ruled out by now since the hard drive is replaced and the O/S is reloaded. Will keep posting when we know more to post. I am going to get the machine back and play with it some more myself, swapping parts one at a time with a good machine at my office until we get it resolved. It is now a matter of principal. Thanks to all who responded. Don
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  • Raphael7
    I have this problem before... the easy part was just remove the ram, turn on the PC then off pc. reinstall ram, turn on and boot from cd for system installation. that solve my problem
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