CPU usage spikes


I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit with an Intel Core2 CPU (6600 @ 2.4GHz (2 CPUs)), but have run into a problem. While attempting to diagnose a different problem, I stumbled across a histogram of CPU usage, of which mine has a slightly concerning pattern.

Right now my CPU usage is hovering around 2-5%, but every 10 seconds, my CPU usage spikes to about 25-30%. I have yet to check if this happens in safe mode, but it seems that both of my CPUs are doing this.

I've watched the usage, and it seems that Explorer.exe is causing the spikes, though I have no idea why.

Any thoughts?
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More about usage spikes
  1. Yes, it does. I left it alone for 10 minutes and it was still spiking every 10 seconds. I should try this in safe mode to see if it's a program. One might be pinging the internet every 10 seconds to keep it open. I do have several IM programs open by default (AIM, Skype, and Steam).
  2. I was having a skype conversation today and saw the same pattern 0%-100%-0% every 10s or so on one core (could equate to 25-20%) , but it doesn't happen when skype is idle.
  3. I do use Skype, but I wasn't in a call at the time, nor did I have any other conversations open. What I've been seeing is happening on both cores though, which I find odd. It seems that whatever is going on doesn't use just one core to do it's work, it uses both.
  4. Best answer
    Hi Katamoran, Welcome to THW.

    This is kind of a shot in the dark, but it may be windows indexing service trying to work in the background. Or I believe Win7 also has a feature that will use idle CPU time to defrag your PC, but but I wouldn't think that it would cause such off CPU usage or happen as soon as your CPU goes idle. There is another windows feature that i cannot recall what it is that may also cause this behavior.

    Have you looked into your task manager while this is happening, without ANY programs opened and checked for programs using alot of your system resources or that seem to be out of place?
  5. Hmm, I think I've been an idiot. It seems that the performance monitor is causing the CPU spikes. When I look at the usage histogram in Task Manager, it doesn't show the spikes. However, when I have the performance monitor open, i see the spikes every 10 seconds. False alarm everyone, and thanks for your help.
  6. Best answer selected by Katamoran.
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