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need help diagnosing mystery cpu usage and bad lag

  • Task Manager
  • Computers
  • CPUs
  • Components
  • Windows XP
Last response: in CPUs
September 3, 2013 11:26:41 AM

Im currently having difficulties with my computer running slow, my cpu usage in the task manager regularly stays anywhere between 20-60% with no tasks showing usage and idle process is always 90-99%. im operating windows xp sp3 and my computer should be more than capable but it lags with everything. I am unable to even listen to mp3 files because of the sound distortion from the lag. does anybody know what could cause this?

please help!

additional info: core temp never rises above 36C, and i have intermittent problems with sudden shutdowns followed by system boot failure. this is almost always resolved by a hard reset, and doesnt happen again for days.

also very slow boot time, up to 7 minutes sometimes from power on until booted to windows, not counting programs starting

motherboard: Biostar p4m900m7fe
cpu: pentium dual core e2200 2.2ghz
ram: 2gb
graphics: nvidia geforce 8600gt 512mb gddr3
audio: onboard realtek hd audio

More about : diagnosing mystery cpu usage bad lag

a c 211 à CPUs
September 3, 2013 11:47:56 AM

I'm going to venture your hard drive may be going bad - most manufacturers have their own diagnostics tools but if you can't find one for yours specifically, you can try to use SeaTools for DOS (or you may be able to use the windows version) available here
September 3, 2013 12:37:22 PM

and the hard drive would explain the cpu behavior?
Related resources
a b à CPUs
September 3, 2013 12:50:54 PM

The HDD failure would explain all the issues you mentioned, and it's easier to test.

I assume your computer is old (taking into account the specs), so to be honest anything can be the problem, but HDDs and RAMs are the easiest to test.

Your RAMs may be going bad, same for HDD, and same for both the CPU and the Motherboard.

For the HDDs, there is diagnostic software usually provided by the HDD maker. For RAM, there is memtest86. If neither of those is the problem, it's either the CPU or the Motherboard, and both of those will mean a new computer (as those CPUs are no longer produced AFAIK).
September 3, 2013 7:33:28 PM

used seatools, drive tested with 1 error, repaired error and passed test after repair, high cpu usage fixed, sound is still glitchy and it still takes forever to boot. also programs still load slower than normal. check ram next you think? im going to try a different hd tomorrow as well if i get to it
a c 211 à CPUs
September 3, 2013 7:50:05 PM

Yep, run MemTest86 see what it tells you
One other direction to look here, what is the make and model of your power supply and how old is it?
September 3, 2013 8:16:28 PM

i am aware of a psu issue already, that became apparent today. i beleive it is 250w but im not sure, i will have to look, i know it came with an antec case long ago. ive noticed my random shutdowns and some of my other issues get worse when i have my extra leds and fans plugged in. will try memtest soon tomorrow also. thank you
September 4, 2013 6:56:19 PM

i am running memtest right now, posting from another cpu. just curious, but it says cpus found: 2, cpus started: 2, cpus active: 1. is it normal for only one to be active? im unfamiliar with the program and just trying o keep an eye out for anything unusual. also how many passes would you all recommend?
a c 211 à CPUs
September 4, 2013 7:45:03 PM

I'd be content with three or four good passes on memtest86
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 3:07:04 AM

I usually leave memtest running overnight as it doesn't really need monitoring while running.
September 5, 2013 4:59:28 AM

update. hard drive passed seatools long test with 1 error that it repaired. 13 passes overnight on memtest with no errors, any other thoughts? is there a chance its still my hd? is there a way to test if my psu is the issue? or a good tool to test my gpu?
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 5:14:30 AM

GPU would have no impact on sound unless you're using HDMI and the sound is coming from the graphics card.

I believe the only way to test the PSU is to get a new one and see if it gets fixed, unfortunately. Testing your possibly broken PSU on a working computer would also effectively test it, but it is NOT recommended as it might go wrong (ending with a previously working component being fried).
September 5, 2013 5:23:56 AM

well, i guess what i will do is swap to a different d and do a clean install, and see if the problem goes away or not. as i am using a 6 year old 500gb hd right now, is there a chance that its my hd and seatools just didnt find it?

at the moment the cpu usage is no longer a problem, that went away after using seatools, but it still takes very long to boot, programs load slowly, and sound glitches still.
September 5, 2013 5:32:29 AM

some research indicated that this is a 64bit cpu, should i be running 64bit xp?
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 5:32:36 AM

Download a program which can read S.M.A.R.T data, and then make sure all of it is okay.

Wikipedia has a good list of S.M.A.R.T info:

Those marked in red are the most important.
September 5, 2013 5:39:21 AM

seatools ran a s.m.a.r.t. test and i passed
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 5:44:43 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned that it could be a case of malware or a virus yet.

OP, google "combofix" and download/run it. Its the best anti-malware program out there. Report back afterwards
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 5:46:26 AM

Yeah was expected, would be kinda lacking if it didn't. Then the disk should be fine, unless it's having undetected hardware failure.

PSU would be the next guess.

EDIT: Yeah, or malware, like CoolWolf suggested...
September 5, 2013 6:46:52 AM

ran combofix, it detected a few minor problems and corrected them, still no improvement though. im gona try to find a spare psu somewhere to test with
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 8:02:21 AM

Have ypu ever run one of those registry fixer programs? If so thatay be causing the issue as well. Those are pure junk and wreck the OS.

I doubt its you psu. I think its a background/software/driver issue.
September 5, 2013 9:08:29 AM

is there any additional info i can give to help diagnose this? i have seen a lot of improvement so far, but its still not right
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 9:14:53 AM

When was the last time you formatted your computer? Might be a good idea, if these issues turn out to be software-based.
September 5, 2013 9:53:15 AM

this was a fresh install of windows about a month ago
a b à CPUs
September 5, 2013 10:03:57 AM

Do you have any defragmentation software installed? For free, for example "Defraggler" exists (it's by the creators of CCleaner), although it's entirely up to you.

Fragmentation causes slower HDD operation.
September 5, 2013 7:45:11 PM

installed windows on a different hd, still isnt the fatest rig in the world but i can play audio files while doing other stuff, and everything seems better, also used drivers directly from biostar and updated bios. big improvements today. thanks all
a b à CPUs
September 6, 2013 11:22:33 AM

So it did turn out to be a bad HDD.

Best of luck, if you have any other problems feel free to post here (as long as it's about the same thing!).