I am troubleshooting for a friend who's computer starts freezing up at ~5 second intervals because his CPU starts spiking. It happens when he's in a game or something and a lot of things are happening at once (i.e. in WoW during a large PVP battle, but I haven't seen it happen otherwise). The problem is not chronic, so I'm having a hard time pinning it down.
Here's his specs (as best as I can remember them, but I'll update them when I get a chance)
OS: Windows XP Home SP3 CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4700 @ 2.6GHz (stock) GPU: nVidia 9600 GT MEM: 2x1GB DDR2 HDD: 7200 RPM SATA drive (dont know make or model) Mobo: I'll have to get this, it's a generic intel board IIRC
Basically the one of the cores on the CPU starts spiking and the computer freezes during each spike (the other core is idle @ 0%). Task manager shows a random task using 50% of the CPU (it never shows 100% because the screen does not refresh during the spike, and yes I ticked the "show processes from all users" box), when I kill that process, another process takes it's place. Even when I kill all the user processes so that only system processes are running it is still showing a spike and I have to reboot.
I ran memtest for 2 passes, both were clean. I tried updating his graphics drivers, but the nVidia installer wasn't able to install them for some reason. I ran Malware Bytes which found some things that were removed. I ran CCleaner, some other diagnostics, etc. Nothing seemed to help. I didn't see any suspicious applications running either. I downloaded Process Explorer, but wasn't able to get the problem to happen again after I did it. Still, that should help me troubleshoot in the future.
O23 - Service: Audio Service (STacSV) - IDT, Inc. - c:\windows\softwaredistribution\download\install\STacSV.exe
End of file - 4875 bytes
Next I'm going to defrag and try updating his Mobo drivers and possibly do a BIOS update, but I doubt these will do anything. I have not tried troubleshooting using a live CD or booting into Safe Mode because the problem is not chronic and I have no idea how to predict what is causing it or when it will occur.
I'm looking for some ideas on what to look for or do next. I've never done troubleshooting on someone else's computer so I'm kind of at a loss here.
I don't see any suspicious processes in the Hijackthis log. Try downloading and running Driver Sweeper, selecting all the Nvidia stuff, then after cleaning all the nVidia stuff re-boot, install the latest nVidia drivers.
I don't see suspicious processes either, but they say any process could be safe or suspicious, so you've got to start with the unnecessary and most likely to be suspicious. Those I would investigate and possibly uninstall are: mDNSResponder.exe and STacSV.exe... other processes are Apple and Google applications that are basically useless... you may want to remove them specifically because they don't serve a usefull purpose in my book. I also see a few toolbars that should be removed. Toolbars started out as spyware and by now they have been mostly accepted but I wouldn't trust any other than the Google toolbar.
One thing I've noticed is that some processes that consume high CPU %, go down immediately as you open the taskmanager, when I find this problem, I keep the taskmanager open so I can catch them in the act.
Check the Bios settings to see if the Processor Core is disabled and can be reset... if you don't find an option to enable it or if it's not disabled, just select to set BIOS to default settings.
Also disable the Remote Assistance and related Services, as well as the Computer Browser, Server, Remote Registry, Telephony and Telnet services to secure the computer from external access... and finally I'd suggest you scan for Rootkits, disable startup programs, delete temp files, Internet temp files and junk files.