Need a way to track CPU usage

By Vigilante
Jun 30, 2005
  1. Hey guys, does anybody know of a way/technique/tool etc.. that can help track down why CPU usage is high?

    I run across this a lot but don't have a set way to do it. You have a system, that has been cleaned up, has an up to date Antivirus, updates done and so forth. No visible problems. Except that the CPU hovers at 10% to 30% while idle and then jumps to 80-100% when doing almost anything else.

    How can I find out what process or driver or whatever, is using so much CPU? Or what might be a good troubleshooting system to find out and test?

    I've uplugged the PCMCIA card and turned off like all the startups in MSCONFIG just for starters, but still uses a lot of CPU.

    Lastly, note that the HDD is NOT grinding away. The hard drive has little IF ANY activity going on. So it is strickly CPU resources. And he has enough RAM for what IS running, so it's not a hardware resource issue as in, to little RAM.

    Any ideas? Thanks.
  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Press ctrl+shift+esc, choose the processes tab, sort by CPU usage.

    I say your antivirus or firewall software is the hog. I bet you are using Norton :p
  3. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Good try. Well Task Manager is what I'm using to SEE the CPU usage as it is now, with the Performance tab.
    The process tab doesn't give me any clues. As most everything still has low or "0%" usage.

    That is what bugs me, cause the CPU column gives no clues, yet "something" somewhere is still using 30%?

    For example, here it is hovering at 15% and no processes are using that much, not even colectively. If I right-click the desktop, it spikes to 100% for like 5 seconds before the menu comes up, still no processes the culprit.
    That is what vexes me. It must be a system service or maybe a driver, or something that doesn't list itself in Task Manager as a process.
    I've yet to find a tool that can track the usage beyond just normal processes.

    And he was on McAfee until I removed it and put on Panda. Slowness persisting before and after.

    However, I did fix it, I think. I remembed this issue from way back when, with Dells if you have power management set to "portable/laptop" it can do this. So I changed the power scheme to plugged in or whatever, turned MSCONFIG all back to normal and restarted. Now it hovers at 1 and 2%. Though it still will spike to maybe 30% when doing something, but quickly goes back down. So I think it's good now.

    But I am STILL OPEN to suggestions on how to track CPU usage beyond just processes.

  4. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

  5. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Did you press the CPU column header twice to get the CPU hogging processes to the top?

    Process Explorer from Sysinternals will also show the system interrupts and DPCs in the list.
  6. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 1,666

    Yes I sorted by that column. But the whole list would refresh every second so nothing would stay the same for any length of time. And when the system spiked up past 70%, no process took the blame.

    I had just downloaded Process Explorer when I remember the power management thing. I haven't used the prog before but I will next time time.

    I downloaded ClearInfo and will play with that too and see what it can do. Thanks.

    Seeing the processor usage doesn't help much, I wish there was a program that actually worked as a monitor and alarm, so that if any single process, thread, module, driver, service etc..; used more than a certain percentage of CPU, it would pop up and tell you what it was. So like it would pop up and say "such and such service just used 65% CPU usage for 1.5 seconds". And record the history or usage. So that it's plain to see what is using so much CPU.

    I my case, perhaps it would have pointed to some file or service that was running under power management. I don't know.

    I'll check those out. Thanks again.
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