CPU usage spikes

By climbamtn ยท 26 replies
Feb 5, 2004
  1. i have a dell inspiron 4100 where the cpu utilization jumps like a heart beat from 2-5% up to 60-70%. any idea of possible causes? when playing mp3's they stutter when the spikes happen. i tried shutting down all applications and it just doesn't stop. ok it did stop twice but i have no idea why, it seems to happen after being on for 5+ hours but a reboot and it comes back. never rebooting the lap top is not a solution. did all the win updates and no issues with drivers in device manager. happens both wireless and connected to a lan. way open to ideas for trouble shooting.
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Any clues as to what program is causing the CPU spike?

    What version of Windows are you running?

    If it is Windows 2000 or Windows XP, you can look in task manager. From there, you can single out the program hogging your CPU time.

    A simple to view task manager is to right click on the start bar and choose "Task Manager".. or press CTRL+ALT+DEL
  3. climbamtn

    climbamtn TS Rookie Topic Starter

    that is the problem. i am running win xp and have closed all the applications that dont cause system failure and nothing stops this spike ossilation. explorer sometimes jumps around on the cpu usage but not exactally in tune to the spike heartbeat. also lsass.exe jumps around, but not every time i restart. i tried every system restore point(none worked), closing all the applications from the task manager processes page. there is 512mb of ram and only 130-160mb show use on processes page. on the application page it is blank. if it were my laptop i would just reformat because i am out of ideas, but it is not mine to make that call.
    thanks for the help got any thing else?
  4. climbamtn

    climbamtn TS Rookie Topic Starter

    new information

    so i found something else, if i let it go to standby, via closing the laptop then in a few minutes open the lap top (or hitting the sleep button then waking it.)the spikes have stopped. if i restart they return and again i can get rid of them by closing the lap top for a few minutes. very odd. i did create a restor point while the spikes are gone and tried to restore it after a restart. the spikes were still there. what is the diference of after going to stand by and before? any ideas what could be causing the spikes to happen or what could be causing them to go away?
    again thanks for the help.
  5. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Most laptops will continually check battery levels, usage, etc. Windows XP has a lot of new power saving options (hibernate, standby, power down) and modes. Laptop hard drives are also usually a bit under powered as far as transfer rates and RPMs (I'm not saying all laptops, but most). Windows will still cache pages and applications on the paging file to the hard drive which can cause it to slow down when accessing. Only recommendation I have is to verify you have the latest BIOS for the laptop (it can update memory collisions and issues and also IDE bus timing if they are known issues that have been resolved) and run a good thorough virus scan, clean up any unused or temp files that arent' being used, and as a last resort, format - reinstall - update just the OS, drivers and see if the issue persists with no applications installed.
    Hope this helps.
  6. johnson

    johnson TS Rookie


    My PC is experiencing exactly the same problem as this. Have been monitoring processes running and nothing comes up when the CPU spike occurs. My Wireless connection is not functioning correctly too and will disconnect/reconnect to the router intermittantly, tho this problem has only just developed.

    Have done a defreg, virus scan, spyware scan etc etc.. and nothing has been found.

    Need to find a solution to this problem as internet is un-use-able on my PC!!! :mad:

  7. travelislife

    travelislife TS Rookie

    Similiar Problem

    I am running a desktop computer with ASUS motherboard, AMD CPU, 1GB RAM, plenty of space on machine. Using the task manager to monitor the CPU i get spikes from standard 1-5% up to 90-100% when nothing is being done on the machine, no programs being used, no mouse clicks, just idle. There is nothing that shows this spike in the list of procceses. It is really annoying with mouse movement freezing for a second when this occurs, have tried many things but haven't been able to solve it. Is it likely to be a problem with windows or the CPU itself? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    go to System and change the Virtual Memory from a range to a fixed number
    that's 2X your installed RAM.

    The idle process will expand the swap space as needed and that takes CPU
    + I/O needlessly.
  9. travelislife

    travelislife TS Rookie

    Doesn't Help

    Thanks for the tip. Tried that and no change in performance.

    System is as follows:
    Windows XP Proffessional
    1 200GB Seagate SATA Hard Drive (Operating System on this)
    1 200GB IDE Hard Drive
    1 GB Ram
    Asus AV8-ESE Motherboard
    AMD Athalon 3500+

    I am having problems with a large spike in the CPU usuage making the mouse 'sticky' and short freezes in operating programs. Using windows task manager there are no proccesses which show up as causing this. It also occurs if the system is doing nothing, ie no programs running, I can just be moving the mouse and it will spike. It is a very frustrating problem so any help people can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Have run ad-aware plus and spybot search and destroy and full virus system scan with up to date definitions.

    The spikes are totally random. Might not happen for an hour and then three will occur in the space of 30 seconds. I don't have to be doing anything. Can sit here just moving the mouse around on the screen, no programs open and it will spike causing the mouse to momentarily freeze and a 100% usage shown in the task manager.
  10. expertwannabe

    expertwannabe TS Rookie

    what anti-virus program do you have? I was having a similar problem on my wifes HP, up to 100% CPU usage for no apparent reason. I un-installed Nortons Internet Security,because I had some sort of notice it had failed,twice,and Installed AVG free version. No problems since. Just my .02cents
  11. travelislife

    travelislife TS Rookie

    Using AVG.
  12. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19


    Your HJT log was clean.

    I have deleted you new thread on this subject. That`s because you`re already getting help in this thread here.

    Regards Howard :)
  13. travelislife

    travelislife TS Rookie

    Sorry about that, just can't seem to find anyone who can give me any suggestions on what might be causing this.

    Very annoying indeed.
  14. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    It could be that your problem is caused by some buggy software you`re using. Obviously finding which software is responsible can be time consuming.

    Take a look at this thread HERE it may help.

    You might also want to go HERE and follow the instructions, just to make sure your system is free form viruses/spyware etc. As I said, your HJT log is clean. However, there is a chance you`ve got something nasty lurking on your system somewhere.

    Regards Howard :)
  15. Benz2002

    Benz2002 TS Rookie Posts: 17

    I dunno if this helps

    I have discovered that majority of CPU usage spikes are caused by Internet Explorer. I have the same problem and I have to use Task Manager to stop it, my solution is use Mozilla Firefox (another web browser) its faster and doesn't hurt the CPU usage.
  16. travelislife

    travelislife TS Rookie

    Not IE

    Sorry to say it isn't that simple, I have been using firefox for the last few years so isn't IE. But thanks for trying anyway. Anyone out there please help!

    I have tried running in the most basic mode possible with nearly no startup programs on and still it is happening, it couldn't be hardware could it?

    Thanks for the help though.
  17. krnbeasty

    krnbeasty TS Rookie

    same problem

    Hi I have a brand new Dell Inspiron 6400 with

    Intel Duo Core 2ghz
    2ghz ram
    ATI radeon x1400
    100gig hard drive

    and I've been having the same CPU usage spikes ever since I got it. At first I thought it was the trial programs and other junk so I deleted it all but it still acted funky. I don't have any clue to why it's doing this. I did a full virus scan and nothing. I didn't bother calling Dell for assistance yet cuz from past experience, they're not very helpful with this kind of stuff.
  18. jswags

    jswags TS Rookie


    I found a solution to my CPU heart beat. The Dell USB hub from my monitor was plugged into the wrong usb port on my machine. This caused Device Manager to refresh every few seconds. Swapped to another USB port (probably USB 2.0) and its fine. For more details see below.

    A few nights ago (while playing Total Annihilation) the animation jerked every few frames, a lot of you guys are typing about this sudden jerk of mouse movement etc.

    I check task mananger and found a perfect heart beat of 0% then 19% in time with the mouse jerks/animation problems etc

    Although I dont have a Dell machine I do have a Dell 20 inch monitor, and I remembered untaggling cables and unplugging USB's, in particular the USB Hun running from the monitor to my machine.

    Once back in the correct port i.e the one it was in before, everything is fine.

    Hope that helps someone. :)
  19. ScottyATC

    ScottyATC TS Rookie

    If this has to do with a laptop.............it's probably just a dead battery. I had been using the power adaptor for quite some time, and my battery finally completely died. I had the same symptoms......jerky mouse indicator.....cpu surges every 3 seconds, etc. Apparently the computer runs a battery condition check every 3 seconds and a dead battery confuses the computer resulting in the cpu usage spikes.............just remove the battery and continue using the power adapter......spikes are gone!!!
  20. shelbygt500budd

    shelbygt500budd TS Rookie

    Umm yeah so all this doesnt work

    Alright so i have tryed all this spyware scans, search and destroy etc. virus scans nothing works i am currently using a toshiba im not sure all the specs on it but it worked fine then this year christmas time it decides to go nuts first thing i thing that it is my harddrive but i have no lose of data or messed up files or anything like this my uncle is a software engineer and he said that everything is running fine but for some reason the cpu is spiking just like all the other people are saying... welll i rolled back drivers etc... nothing happened and this is why i come to you taking out the batter doesnt even work. and one thing that no one has said yet is sometimes the laptop wont even start fully like 1-10 reboots plz... help me out
  21. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    Shelby, welcome to Techspot. You really should start a brand new thread about this issue. The thread here you posted in is rather old.
  22. fwhoover

    fwhoover TS Rookie

    I have had the same issue and have been following this thread and tried it all,

    disconnected USB, removed the battery, installed most software, It still spikes to 100% every 3 sec.
    I am going to install McAfee as it is a memory hog.
    specs. are Inspiron 6000, 2 gig ram, 80HD, 250 USB2 external, OS XP spk2,

    This is driving me crazy

  23. pizzaisgood14

    pizzaisgood14 TS Rookie

    i am also having this problem. the weird thing is that when i have my linksys wireless adaptor plugged in that is the only time it does it. when i pull it out of the usb port the usage drops way down and stays at around 2 %. can anyone tell me why this is happening. thanks
  24. Ucanius

    Ucanius TS Rookie

    I believe i am having a similar problem with the original poster. And I believe i have a solution/explaination for this randomised CPU usage spikes.

    Let me just verify and identify the problem we are facing.

    Problem :

    Even at Idle state, your PC/Laptop will have a random 100% usage and it is not showing in the processes tab which process is using the memory, mouse freezing in mid-action whenever a spike occur. Especially worse when running a heavy-duty power consumption program/game.

    Solution tested and tried but not working :

    1) Run every available Spyware and Anti-Virus scan in the market
    2) Change broadcasting state of router to private.
    3) Closing all processes running in window background to a minimum.
    4) Adding more RAM to the system.

    My Solution :

    Simply check your power supply. Make sure all connection are secure and tight. No loose joints and no faulty adapter/battery. The problem is your pc/laptop is not having enough power to run at it best performance. Low batt will cause your laptop to respond sluggishly and slow and even spikes. Thou it is rare for desktop PCs to have this problem as they operate on A/C supply direct from a wall socket, a faulty wall socket or loose plug is usually the cause of the lag spike intermediates which is what i found out. Change an adapter if necessary.
  25. enkaz

    enkaz TS Rookie

    I was having the same problem as some of you here, a constant pulse that spikes cpu activity and loss of wireless connection, and I've managed to isolate the problem. It was my newly installed wireless pci card (i had a zyXEL G302 v3). I installed it before i installed the driver (as it mentioned in the quick start guide >__<). at first i tried to remove the card and see how the pc performed and there was no problem, then i installed the driver and the pci card and the problem was solved. I guess the problem might be driver/hardware related so if you have installed something new try to re-install the driver before putting the hardware in. hope this helps, i know how frustrating the problem is (I hit my table and cracked the edge :p) enjoy smooth browsing
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