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5% CPU Usage Acting Like It's 100% CPU Usage... Help!?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Toniy, Nov 18, 2011.

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  1. Toniy

    Toniy Thread Starter

    Jan 13, 2008
    Hey all :)

    So recently my laptop has decided to pause every few hours for 5-20 minutes at a time.

    This will include a host of 'Not Responding' Windows, including Firefox, Excel, Word and general Explorer Windows.

    You'll also have trouble opening programs without waiting a few minutes... it's honestly behaving as though the CPU is working at 100%, stuttering, slowing down, speeding up and freezing intermittently for a quarter hour.

    I checked the Task Manager while one of these 'slow-downs' was in effect and the CPU Usage is averaging at 5-10%. The Physical Memory is no more than 50% and is running at around 30% as standard.

    I also cleared out about 60 gigs of a 283 gb hard drive and we're still seeing the same problems.

    As far as cooling goes, the fans are working exactly as they have always been, no change there...

    I'm not sure what information I can provide you gentlemen, and while I'm ignorant to the point I don't have the know how to solve the problem myself, I'm proficient enough that I can get you any information you need.

    I'd really like to know what's going on friends, so thanks in advance sincerely, and all the very best!

  2. Stiivais


    Nov 18, 2011
    Do a simple check...

    Download this Process explorer

    Run it.

    Select View > Update Speed > 5 or 10 seconds.
    Next up View > System Information

    Let it stay like that for a while, recommended over one of these "pauses"...
    You can also minimize it and do whatever you want, until the freeze occurs.

    Make a screenshot (using Print Screen for example) of all those tabs afterwards...
    You should be able to do whatever you want in the meantime.
    *When taking the screenshots, i advise you to hover your cursor over the top spikes in tabs, that should show the names of the processes eating up RAM and CPU.

    You should also:
    sort processes in main view by "Private Bytes", make a screenshot of that.
    sort processes in main view by "CPU", make a screenshot of that.
    I suggest you try to make some screenshots during the "pause". <You should use a third party software for that, because print screen would be ineffective

    Basically you just took pictures of cpu, ram usage history on your pc, complete with names of processes, which have been eating up these resources. We used this software, because it doesnt crash, and also because im too lazy to seek for an automated diagnostics utility.

    I would like you to host the pictures on some site, and embed them here, or at least post links.

    But if you think you got the process which is guilty for this, then you can also use msconfig to fix it...

    Just some advice:
    Even if you are, in some kind of weird way, not familiar with print screen:
    Free screen capture software:
  3. Stiivais


    Nov 18, 2011
    P.s. You really should use one of the linked screen capture programs,
    but if they really don't work or crash, then use print screen,
    or, if you are too lazy to wait all the time just to get one picture,
    you can even use an external camera...
  4. Toniy

    Toniy Thread Starter

    Jan 13, 2008
    Ok guys (and Stiivais specifically)!

    First of all... THANKYOU for taking an interest...

    I apologise deeply for the delayed response... but I'm ready to roll now and I have some new information.

    The problem still persists, and just today I had to do a hard reset (you know, hold down the power button...) and load up again.

    The system completed a disk check and everything seemed ok.

    Loaded up Windows 7, logged in, got all the startup processes going... but I noticed it was slower that usual.

    The slowdown had occurred right from the start and lasted 57 minutes!!

    That included 4 minutes to delete a 14mb file and 20 seconds to delete THAT from the recycle bin...

    Fortunately I was able to load up Task Manager and open Resource Manager to monitor what was going on.

    The scary thing is... nothing seemed to be going on. Except for when Task Manager froze for 3 minutes and Explorer froze for 7 minutes... then everthing opened at once (Windows Media Player, Calculator, MSPaint).

    Anyway, here is the requested info:

    Starting with sample evidence of a freeze symptom:


    Summary At Start of Freeze


    Summary At End of Freeze


    CPU During Freeze




    (Right side graph shows the same info)

    Memory During Freeze


    IO During Freeze


    GPU During Freeze


    Now as for the CPU and Private Bytes images, these were taken during a normal run with no noticeable problems after the freeze, but after watching the resource manager carefully during the 57 minute freeze up earlier, I can say with confidence that the processes look no different from freeze time to normal time.... just in the freeze time, more programs lock up with no noticeable effect on CPU or Memory (primarily explorer, firefox and any program opened during the slowdown).


    Private Bytes:

    Since the 57 minute freeze, they've only been lasting for a couple of minutes, if that, and always within about 5 minutes of power on or recovery from idle.

    If there's anything else I can do, please let me know :)

    Until then... take care!
  5. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

    Jul 2, 2005
    Run hard drive diagnostics.

    Windows makes it hard to find out about this, but the problem you describe is commonly caused by I/O waits. I/O waits become an issue either when the hard drive is very busy (often fragmented) and the queue of pending actions is large, or it occurs when the drive is being forced to frequently re-read a sector because the reads are coming back with errors.

    Start by running chkdsk with the surface scan option set and see what turns up.
  6. Stiivais


    Nov 18, 2011
    Are the "Private Bytes" and "CPU" Images taken after the freeze?
    This basically renders them useless, because if only 1 or 2 processes change position during freeze, that can mean either the path to fix, or frustration.

    But i did notice something.
    1)svchost is using too much cpu (like 40% more than normally)
    2)TrustedInstaller.exe may cause the massive slowdown, freezes
    Also, why the is firefox using 120mb of memory? Did you have 15-20 tabs open? Or a video playing?

    *Something that is making me concerned, but may not be the reason for freezes.* :(
    Svchost or Services Host is a generic host process,
    usually many of them are running, each having loaded different dll files - so if one process fails, others will not.
    Here is what i would like you to do - go into main view, before crash, or after it, and hover over the svchost process, which was using the most system resources, then double click it.
    A new window will appear. I would like you to get pictures of tabs -
    Services, Image, Performance Graph, Disk and Network.
    ^Remember that this should be optional, im just curious why is it overusing memory.

    *What i believe causes the freezes.* :eek:
    At the 2nd picture of CPU usage i think you hit gold vein of our problem.
    The name of the process - TrustedInstaller.exe
    The name itself sounded weird, so i checked your network usage - it seemed normal, so it is not a virus, hogging up the bandwidth After double checking it, and afterwards googling it i found some rather "interesting" posts on the internet about that process.
    Do any of those cases seem familiar to you?
    Here are the good news - we possibly have identified a possible cause for your problem.
    The bad news - the process is quite important, and its not just some 3rd party application,
    its Windows Update related (guys at Microsoft make mistakes too)...
    So i believe you have Vista (dont think that the process runs on 7),
    and apparently the process is authorised to do whatever it wants, so we have a bit of a problem here - we cant just uninstall it, or we shouldnt, at least.

    But there are fixes to this:
    Seems, that there are 5 fixes, i think that all of the instructions are clear enough, so you can do those things yourself and no need for me to explain them. You can pay almost no attention to Method1...

    Also, go to Process Explorer > Options > Replace Task Manager.
    Afterwards Process Explorer > Options > Always On Top.
    I really suggest doing this, as you would be able to launch it more easily, just like Task Manager. (Ctrl+Alt+Del)

    About what Jiml8 said: I/O seems normal, but i guess you could do a disk check, or maybe defragment it...
    You can never be sure. Also, if you are going to tamper with Windows Related things (even if its update), i suggest you make a system restore hardpoint :D

    Sorry for my wall-of-text, but i hope this solves the problem, or at least indicates, that we have to look for another cause. Do all of those steps, and tell us how it all went.

    And a word of advice: Dell PCs are chaotic as hell, or at least - overclocking them is like hell. :(
  7. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

    Jul 2, 2005
    Based upon the information given, you cannot say that "I/O seems normal" because no information is provided concerning processor I/O wait times or percentage of time the processor is waiting on I/O to complete.
  8. Toniy

    Toniy Thread Starter

    Jan 13, 2008
    Pretty certain this isn't the update people are going to be hoping for... and I apologise for that :)

    But I mean well...

    Tried running chkdsk... not sure how to go about doing a surface scan, I just had it run upon power up, before windows startup.... everything seems fine.

    Should I have done something else?

    As for the I/O element... there was something I noticed... while the slow downs were happening, the I/O metrics / graphs always seemed to be peaked... maxed out.

    But I don't know enough about it to draw a conclusion I'm afraid....

    Hey thanks again fellas... what do you need me to do next?

  9. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

    Jul 2, 2005
    There is an option to chkdsk to cause it to do a surface scan. I don't recall how it is labeled in Win7 and I don't presently have any Windows virtual machines running so I can't easily look (I use Linux). That scan won't be run by default, it can take a long time. Your problem *might* show up when you run that. And it might not.

    Well, there y'go. That's what's happening. I/O waits.

    Why is it doing that? Could be hard drive problem (hence the chkdsk). Could be a hardware problem with some other I/O device. Could also be a corrupted driver or a misconfiguration (not necessarily associated with the hard drive; I/O includes keyboards, mice, USB, and ethernet ports).

    As it happens, I'm experiencing the same problem with a Linux server that I'm maintaining right now, and I have not found the source of the trouble yet, though it worries me greatly; the hard drives pass diagnostic tests but the problem is certainly associated with the drives. Presently I am looking at drivers and libraries.

    In your case, rule out hard drive hardware issues first. Then try updating any drivers that might be associated with I/O. Try disabling specific pieces of hardware that use I/O in order to see if the problem changes or vanishes. Most particularly, try disconnecting from all networks to begin with.

    Try uninstalling/reinstalling drivers associated with these devices.

    WARNING: Your symptoms suggest you COULD have a corrupted driver, or a corrupted registry. In this case, disabling devices or uninstalling/reinstalling drivers could have unexpected consequences. Make sure you are fully backed up BEFORE YOU START THIS; Windows is pretty ugly regarding some of these things and you might just find yourself doing a full reinstall.
  10. Toniy

    Toniy Thread Starter

    Jan 13, 2008
    Alright... well there's something actionable at least :D

    I've noticed that the slow down only actually occurs 5-30 minutes after startup, or upon return from standby.

    You could run it for the rest of the day and it doesn't seem to happen again, until it next gets reset or goes into 'sleep mode' and gets 'woken'.

    This is all pretty crazy... thanks for your help so far though Jim :)
  11. jiml8

    jiml8 Guest

    Jul 2, 2005
    I seem to have solved my problem. I had to do a recovery of a server that had experienced a catastrophic failure. There were some mechanisms in place to prevent that kind of failure, which obviously failed, and NO mechanisms in place to recover from that kind of failure. And, given circumstances, I was forced to recover rather than start over.

    Well, I was able to recover it though it took about 7 days. When I was done, there were a couple of problems that, in conjunction, led to the symptoms of very high I/O waits. So my problem turned out to be a misconfiguration that, when found and fixed, eliminated the symptoms. In my case, the principal problem was with the firewall; it was inadvertently blocking off some internal connections that were needed.

    I let the company who owns the server have a full broadside for this one, and after I was done ripping them, I found myself deploying disaster recovery procedures for them. I also gave them a VERY hefty bill.
  12. Toniy

    Toniy Thread Starter

    Jan 13, 2008
    Huh... well here's a strange one.....

    Turned out I had my power settings profile on 'Power Saver' to extend the battery life....

    Switched it to 'Balanced' and it doesn't seem to be happening anymore.

    Happy day :-D

    Thanks again for the advice Gentlemen
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