CPU Spikes, slow startup, even whilst idle

By SimonSiknasty
May 2, 2009
  1. I have come to you as my last resort. Even though I only bought my computer under 2 months ago, there are problems already. Big problems. Here's the story (what I think is the cause):

    I am running WinXP HE SP3, on a relatively high end computer (specs listed below). A few days ago, my friend tells me that I should get better AV than what I am currently using (AVG). He tells me that he is running SUPERAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes' AntiMalware, Avira AntiVir AND Avast. All at the same time. His computer seems to be running fine, so I agree. That night, I download all of those and install them, removing AVG. The next day, I removed all except AntiVir and SuperAntiSpyware after noticing extreme startup hangs in excess of 5mins staying on the "Welcome" screen. The computer seemed to be running excessively slow, so I tried to restore. Whenever I tried, it told me after the restore that it was incomplete. From there I just uninstalled all AV programs and am now using Avast. However, I still get CPU spikes. When I am idle, and monitoring the Task Manager, it's jumping from ~2% to ~40% (image attached below). I noticed that when I am using Firefox and iTunes (I am running iTunes 99% of my computer usage times) the CPU usage spikes to ~100%. My music stutters, and the whole computer freezes for a few seconds, then returns back to its normal state as if nothing went wrong. I have disable ctfmon.exe on startup, I have reinstalled my audio drivers, reinstalled iTunes, scanned my system with multiple virus scanners, and I am losing faith. Another odd thing that happens, is my CPU sometimes drops down to 0%-2%. When this happens, and I am running iTunes and Firefox, my computer freezes for ~20 seconds, and the music stops playing (as opposed to when it spikes, the music stutters).

    System Specs:
    Intel Core2 Duo E7400 @ 2.80GHz
    Foxconn P31A-S Motherboard
    4GB DDR2-800 RAM
    nVidia Galaxy 512MB DDR2 128-bit
    Realtek HD Audio Drivers
    500W PSU
    500GB HardDrive
    Windows XP Home Edition SP3
    Avast Home Edition

    Please I am desperate for solutions. Help me out here?

    Image: CPU when running idle.
    h t t p ://
  2. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,335   +36

    Your friend will have problems- possibly missed malware because only ONE antivirus program should be running.

    Yes, Avira or Avast ARE recommended over AVG. But neither of those are known to cause any significant slowdown>>>UNLESS to have either set to scan on startup. THAT could slow the load time down.

    This is for MS Office and will restart itself.

    Please prepare your system for shutdown BUT don't shutdown. Instead, right click on Task Bar> Task Manager> Processes tab> double click on the frame above the CPU column. The ONLY processes you should see now are:
    System Idle

    These three should add up to 100% of the CPU.

    Any other processes using more than 1-2 in the CPU column are the culprits. Please check this and reply with the names of those processes if any.

    4GB of RAM is a lot for Windows XP although it is the max for your motherboard.

    You most likely have the iTuners Helper starting up> it is not needed on startup and it a huge resource user. A 2 month old computer shouldn't have to be restored for problems-unless:
    1. It is a lemon
    2. It was set up wrong from the beginning.
  3. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    AshServ.exe was at one point 17 (and has 23000K mem usage peak at 123000K)
    iTunes.exe usually at 00, then sometimes at 02/03
    uTorrent (I'm downloading atm) alternating between 00, 02 & 03
    DisplayLinkManager.exe comes up every 10 seconds or so at 02

    (This is me running normal if that helps)
    I will prepare for shutdown and see what it looks like now)
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Well as Bobbye stated you only require 1 Antivirus and you have mentioned 3 (AVG Avira and Avast)
    Plus you are downloading uTorrent "atm" Um Why ? :confused:

    You may want to read here on P2P File Sharing Programs:

    But I would highly recommend you go through this guide: UPDATED 8-step Viruses/Spyware/Malware Preliminary Removal Instructions

    And also note this quote from the guide:
    If you decide on removing all P2P programs and then uninstall all but 1 Antivirus, and then go through the guide, you will then need to create a new thread in the Virus & Malware removal forum, if you want your logs checked ;)
  5. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    I uninstalled my uTorrent. But I last downloaded something several weeks ago. This problem started days ago, so it can't be my P2P that is causing the spikes. I talked to the man who made my computer (XtremeSystem) and he suggested a defrag. I decided to run an Avast boot scan, and that is running at the moment (I'm on my friend's computer). Surely, if it is a virus that is slowing down my computer, then the boot scan will detect it.
    Also, what would be causing the startup hangs? The other night, I restarted, and it took 10 minutes to go from the 'Welcome' screen onto my desktop.
    I installed Photoshop CS4 the other night, and went to sleep waiting for it to install because it was taking so long. Please I need suggestions.
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Sorry you may have misunderstood

    The 8-Step guide is to help rid you of Virus and Malware (Trojans, Spyware; Adware ... etc)

    I provided the correct advice
    Note: Defrag was not it :D
  7. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    So would the virus be causing a start up hang?
    And do you think that Avast should detect and remove the virus on the boot scan it is currently running?
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    As you had P2P installed I'd say it's a large possibility that Malware is present

    So did you want it fixed, or do you want to keep asking questions? Because there are lots and lots of what ifs, and do you think, that we could ponder over all day!
  9. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Ok. I ran the Avast boot scan. It finished before I got home. I know that looking in my Avast Virus Vault, there are only 3 files in there:

    I still get CPU spikes, just not as frequently.
    Currently, my computer is at reasonable speed, but still noticeably slower than it used to be.
    An issue that I seem to be getting more frequently, is when my CPU drops to ~0%. Everything freezes (first off iTunes, then everything follows suite) and it's about 10 / 15 seconds before it returns to normal. However, when this happens, my iTunes doesn't stutter, it just stops all together. I'm running Malwarebytes' AntiMalware at the moment (full scan) and I will attach the log.
  10. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Thanks, that's great news that you are making progress

    By the way, make sure to make a New Thread as stated in the quote below ;)
  11. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    What's happening with the CPU drops though? :S
  12. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    Okay. I am sure this isn't virus related. I ran AntiMalware full scan... No viruses found.
    Avast Boot scan... No viruses.

    Just before, I had a BSOD.
    It said as that my computer has been shut down to prevent critical damage...
    Blah blah blah
    Stop: 0x000000F4 (0x000000003, 0x8A9BA304, 0x8050297C)
    Beginning Physical Memory Dump.

    I pushed the restart button on my computer before it said that the Memory Dump had been completed.
  13. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Misconfigured Hard Drive or CMOS settings

    Start with that I must rush off

    Yes you could be right it might not be malware then ! Grrr. :D
  14. SimonSiknasty

    SimonSiknasty TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 20

    I shall await your return before I delve into the matter. I don't want to damage anything. How will I tell whether it is HDD or CMOS?
  15. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Hmm I'm back
    That was one of my longer delays so sorry about that ie I'm usually always on (just about)
    Anyway, depending upon your hardware knowledge, you could try the below:

    Reset CMOS settings to defaults (usually it's DEL to get into CMOS whaen your computer first starts)
    Run a CheckDisk on your C Drive
    Test without CDRom Connected to Motherboard
    Check for any recent Minidumps in C:\Windows\Minidump folder (you can attach one or two as well)
    Clean up your system, ie Run CCleaner even KCleaner
    Download and run KCleaner (disregard any A/V warning)
    (uncheck RelevantKnowledge during install, pic here:
    Fully run, ie select all (it says start actually ;))
    Then Restart
    Run a Drive Diagnostics on your HardDrive on your Drive

    That's a good start ;)

    Oh about your Poll thread, I prefer Avira and that's what I currently use (if that helps your decision)
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