|Hey everyone, |
I have worked on computers for many years and have made some interesting observations in regard to this issue and though I might be able to help. You must, however, realize that computers are not fool proof (as if you didn't already know ;) and that the slightest stupid thing can kill PC performance. Also, fixing anything on a PC can be time consuming and thus the legnth of this post, so please read on. My recommendations are for you to try at your own risk and are of my opinion only.
100% usage for a second or 2 is normal.
For those who have asked about this for years on this site, here is my 2 cents:
#1-If your CPU is less than 1.67GHz...
It is likely that you have an older processor. The more recent programs (such as Norton Internet Security 2006) will increasingly give you headaches as each release has consistantly required more memory and more processor power in order to function. These programs usually require a LOT of system resources. You must secure your PC, however, so I suggest getting your CPU upgraded. One side note:Some CPUs above 2.0GHz designed for productivity software and not multimedia and gaming will also run into this problem when multitasking. These processors will usually cost less than "better" processors but offer functionality at a performance cut. For help choosing a new CPU, please consult your local computer store or ask someone who knows. Don't forget, if you upgrade your CPU though, you may need to also upgrade the motherboard.
#2-Make sure you have uninstalled programs that you aren't using. Many programs install processes that run in the background and eat memory and processing power.
#3-Don't disable Service Pack 2 Services.
If you get to this point, you are having other issues, which could mean program incompatibilities, a slow CPU, low memory, damaged hardware, a fragmented hard drive, etc., which can all slow CPU performance too. Remember, the CPU gets its data from the motherboard, which gets it from the hard drive, memory, etc., and when those devices are acting slowly, so will the CPU. Also, this and other issues compounded will make the whole thing worse, so remember that you may have multiple issues going on. Likewise, it may be normal, given the programs and setup that you are using for the CPU to momentarily (2-5 seconds, or more for intense programs)to show 100% CPU usage, esp if you have an older CPU with less capacity and you are simply maxing it out. Also, SP2 was specifically designed to patch the many security holes in Windows and provides a lot of extra security redundancies that help keep you protected. Disabling them reduces your system security. For those of you who disagree, please remember that Microsoft is not the most "complete" when releasing information regarding its operating systems when it involves the source code, thus SP2 has many security upgrades within it that may not be apparent to the user.
#4-Your computer hardware may be overheating. This does not stop at the CPU. If the motherboard is overheating, for example, or a cheaper board was installed to begin with, the performance of the CPU will be degraded, including it reporting 100% usage. To check this, first, enter Setup by pressing the designated key when your computer first comes on and shows the black screen. There, don't change anything you don't know what is, but look for system performance/ temperature/status or another screen that gives the CPU temperature. Look up your CPU's optimal temperature on the Internet and see if that temp matches it or is within a reasonable proximity. If it is high, install a bigger, faster, newer CPU fan and see if that improves performance. You can also remove the side of your computer case if you know how to properly do so and feel the air inside to see if it is HOT or not. Optimally, it will be somewhat warm, but not HOT. If it is HOT in there, install a case fan to get that hot air out of the computer and cool air in. The cooler the components, above freezing of course :P, the longer they'll last and the better they will perform.
#5-You may have a virus, sypware, or overzealous antispyware/fix it program.
In my experience, a program that requires or promotes advertisements and claims to be an antispyware program is only going to make matters worse by giving you more tracking cookies or leading you right to more spyware. Also, programs that no one has ever heard of, cost $ but just enough to look suspicious, or programs that offer miracles like "Click here to get rid of spyware now, forever!" are usually too good to be true. Antispyware programs are like the .com craze and when spyware became big news, suddenly everyone was making one in no time flat. What this caused was many programs to be released that actually used more system resources than the spyware they removed or programs to be released to "speed up your PC!" when in fact these programs could not possibly be advanced enough to be tailored to everyone's PC, which meant that good programs were being deleted, files were going missing, and the spyware was still there. Here are my recommendations: Use no "computer speedup" or "Internet boosting" programs unless instructed to do so by your Internet Service provider, unless you want some software standards to be applied to your PC when your custom, manufacturer setup is likely not standard and will likely be screwed up. (For example, registry cleaning tools often incorrectly lable registry keys as useless and remove them, which can corrupt your programs.) To remove spyware, download a program called Ad-Aware by a company called Lavasoft (beware of imitations) and use Norton Internet Security on all your PCs to remove viruses and provide firewall protection. These programs are not only the best I have found, but Ad-Aware uses no resources unless you are running it, it is free for home use, and does not promote itself through advertising on your PC. Spyware and these hyped-up overconfident programs that take control of your computer and go on deleting sprees are probably the #1 cause of computer performance tourble. Note: If Ad-Aware tells you to remove something, it is spyware and needs to go. If this screws up your PC, then you likely had a spyware infestation that got into your system files and had for all reasonable purposes already ruined your OS, and removing it thus killed the PC. In this case, the only solution is to reload Windows from your restore CDs after backing up your files. If your infestation is already critical, just back up everything before you even run Ad-Aware to make sure you can get all your files off. One more thing: let's say you run an adaware scan and you still see spyware or problems, remember that new spyware and viruses come out every day and even the best programs may not be aware of these new threats yet. Try getting your ad-aware updates and see if it will then remove the spyware. If this occurs, you may also not even know it as some spyware you can't even see running, but then you notice performance issues or odd behavior on your PC. That is another reason to always update your security software to make it aware of new threats and hopefully, eventually remove them all. The only alternative is to reload the PC clean if it is used for critical data. In my experience, if Ad-Aware doesn't remove it, it is unlikely that any other program will.
#6-Turn off system restore.
Sometimes this will take a few minutes. Remember, if your CPU is at 100%, doing something massive like this will obviously take a while.
#7-If you started seeing this problem after installing something, uninstall it and see if it goes away. If it just started out of the blue, you could try using system restore and see if reverting your system files to an earlier time fixes it.
#8-Defragment your hard drive, let Windows manage the paging file itself, restart the computer, clear your browser cache, clear your temp files manually by going to the folder and actually deleting all the files not in use. Any of these things can help most computer software problems other than an infestation. If you are having issues with graphics too, disable the Windows XP look and feel in favor of the traditional Windows menu/screen style. You can do this under the Display Properties menu in control panel.
#9-Take all those unnecessary icons off of your desktop. Because of the way Windows manages the desktop, an overloaded desktop can slow PC performance. Only remove what you know can go though, don't just go deleting things wildly.
#10-Disconnect unneeded peripheral devices from your PC and remove unneeded expansion PCI, PCI-e, ISA, etc. cards from the computer. This can help unclog the motherboard and increase overall PC performance by lightening the load of devices vieing for CPU and other resources.
#11-Increase the memory in your PC. Running programs are stored in RAM. The CPU accesses RAM constantly to interact with those programs. If the RAM is slow or low, then the CPU will underperform. Many problems like this can also cause Windows to report 100% usage even though it is not actually at 100% due to the lack of functionality everywhere else.
#12-Get your Windows and program updates. Many programs have been released with errors that can cause everything from memory corruption to overuse of the CPU to corrupting of the hard drive. Often these errors are fixed in subsequent program updates, but if you don't get those updates, you may be stuck with those problems, which may make other problems appear when other programs are installed later that may conflict with those errors and make matters worse! etc. etc. etc.
#13-Stop using illegal software. Often the things that have to be done to open a secured piece of software up to stealing make it prone to all kinds of errors and can cause serious harm to your PC including adding security risks to it.
#14-Stop using file sharing programs.
These programs are not only security risks but they are often illegal or promote illegal activity. They often use lots of memory, CPU resources, and open up your hard drive to all kinds of viruses and spyware.
Try all that, this post is getting very long, good luck.