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High CPU Usage When On Line


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#1 fohaba

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:48 AM

Hi, Everyone!

I have been fighting this problem for months. Basically, after about fifteen minutes of booting up and going on line, my CPU Usage suddenly shoots up to 100%, slowing the computer to almost a stop. After a while, the usage may go back down a bit, swinging between a range of 30-100%, but the computer is near useless from that point forward until I re-boot. After a re-boot, it usually acts fine, but often will repeat the behavior again. Other times it doesn't happen at all, and runs fine all day. It seems to particularly not like mornings, or the New York Times site, but this might be my imagination.

I am using Firefox, and had read about some problems with resource usage with it. But after trying to tweak FF with various recommended remedies with no change, I installed Chrome, and the same thing happened with it.

I also am suspicious AVG is messing with me, and again did a series of tweaks, and turned off the automatic updates and scans and such, but no dice. I am thinking about uninstalling AVG completely to see if that fixes it, but that's a bit of a pain.

I have done full AVG virus scans, Malwarebytes, Spybot, Adaware, and also installed Avira and scanned with it. Absolutely nothing has shown up.

I don't download anything but reputable software, don't play games, don't go to movie or music sharing sites except for Itunes, and in general stay away from suspicious sites. I don't open unknown email attachments, or even email messages that look spammy. I run AVGs firewall.

The computer is an ancient Dell laptop running XP SP3, connected online through a PCMCIA wireless card and a router. It runs great when it's not doing this strange behavior.

Ideas? Suggestions? Help?

Thanks!

David

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#2 dc3

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:55 AM

Hi fohaba, and welcome to BleepingComputer.

The first thing I'd do would be to go to the Task Manager and look under Applications to see what is running at those times.

I had AVG for several years, and when it went to up date it would all but stop my computer.

There have been complaints here that AVG hasn't provided the kind of security as other AVs. If you are serious about uninstalling it you might consider going with Avast or Avira.

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#3 fohaba

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:39 PM

Yes- I should have described the Task Manager list. When it really peaks at 100%, it is usually Firefox that is hogging most of that. (Or Chrome when I tried that instead.) After some time, if it goes down a bit, Firefox is usually one of the top users, along with a constantly changing mix of other suspects that each may use 5-10%. Sometimes an AVG related thing is one of them. These multiple offenders apparently add up to enough that my machine never recovers. I'll try to grab a screen or two next time it happens so I can look at them carefully.

Right now, though, it has been working fine for the last couple hours, with total CPU usage hanging around 2-4%.

I may uninstall AVG and see what happens. It irks me that I paid for the paid version on three computers, and now I may be dumping it in favor a a better free one. Oh, well.

David

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 02:52 PM

I have done full AVG virus scans, Malwarebytes, Spybot, Adaware, and also installed Avira

Are you running two AV programs?
If so, get rid of AVG, using AVG Remover: http://www.avg.com/us-en/download-tools

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#5 Synetech

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 03:54 PM

Yes- I should have described the Task Manager list. When it really peaks at 100%, it is usually Firefox that is hogging most of that. (Or Chrome when I tried that instead.) After some time, if it goes down a bit, Firefox is usually one of the top users, along with a constantly changing mix of other suspects that each may use 5-10%. Sometimes an AVG related thing is one of them. These multiple offenders apparently add up to enough that my machine never recovers. I'll try to grab a screen or two next time it happens so I can look at them carefully.

Right now, though, it has been working fine for the last couple hours, with total CPU usage hanging around 2-4%.

I may uninstall AVG and see what happens. It irks me that I paid for the paid version on three computers, and now I may be dumping it in favor a a better free one. Oh, well.

David


Try disabling all extensions to see if CPU usage drops. If it does, then itís just the standard extensionitis problem that most people experience. If it does not, then youíll have to look at other things. Try emptying the cache. If that does not help, try moving your history files to another location (move it, donít just delete it).
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#6 ejames82

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 08:52 PM

perhaps even remnants of previous AV's

#7 fohaba

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 10:24 AM

OK. So I removed AVG using their uninstall function. Set up standard Microsoft firewall.

Same thing happened this morning. Opened NY Times site, and another blog site, both through Firefox, and after a few minutes the usage shot up to 100%, eventually coming down and hanging around 20-30%, which was enough to completely drag down the whole computer.

Here are the major users in System Resources during this situation:

firefox.exe 64%
system idle process 26% (I understand this is OK)
Airplus.exe 3%
taskmgr 2%
explorer 2%

total CPU Usage at this time: 77%

A few minutes a snapshot showed the total dropped to 23% (but computer was still crawling and almost unusable)

firefox.exe 11%
system idle process 80%
Airplus.exe 5%
taskmgr 1%
explorer 2%
acs.exe 1%


And a few minutes later, total 100%

firefox.exe 84%
Airplus.exe 3%
taskmgr 1%
explorer 2%
AvastSvc 2%
thunderbird 6%
System 1%

I assume explorer is Windows Explorer? It's odd to me, because it wasn't open during any of this. I had opened Thunderbird at this time.

This is so baffling to me. A cold shutdown and reboot and everything has been working fine for a couple hours now.

Where do I go from here?

David

Edited by fohaba, 26 August 2010 - 10:25 AM.


#8 Synetech

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 11:02 AM

firefox.exe 64%
system idle process 26% (I understand this is OK)
Airplus.exe 3%
taskmgr 2%
explorer 2%

Did you try disabling all of your Firefox extensions to see if Firefox still sucks cycles? Then you can selectively re-enable them one by one to figure out which extension really slows things down.

A few minutes a snapshot showed the total dropped to 23% (but computer was still crawling and almost unusable)

At 23%, your system should be usable. Look at the red LED on your case to see if the hard drive is being accessed. If the hard drive is getting throttled (continuous read/write activity), then your system indeed would be sluggish even without much CPU usage.

I assume explorer is Windows Explorer? It's odd to me, because it wasn't open during any of this. I had opened Thunderbird at this time.

Windows Explorer is always running. It is responsible for the taskbar, notification area, the Start menu, all explorer windows that you use, and plenty more. Itís normal for Explorer to use a few percent now and then even when you are not doing anything. In fact, it uses idle time to update some things, especially if you have shell extensions installed.

This is so baffling to me. A cold shutdown and reboot and everything has been working fine for a couple hours now.

Iím guessing that after the reboot you did not run Firefox?
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#9 fohaba

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 11:14 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.

I didn't know what you meant by "extensoins" in your previous post, but now understand it was Firefox extensions. I disabled them, but there were only two running: AdBlock, and UnMHT.

During these periods, the hard drive isn't doing much at all.

After my reboot, everything is working fine, and I am in fact running Firefox. Seven open windows of it, in fact. Usage is hovering around 15%, computer running great.

The exact same thing was happening with Chrome, so I'm thinking it's not a FF issue anyway.

This is making me more and more crazy.

David

#10 Synetech

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 11:39 AM

Well itís great that your system is working fine right now. I do however understand the frustration of intermittent problems (the worst kind of problem!) What you can do next time that it happens is to run Sysinternalsí ProcessExplorer instead of Task Manager to get an even more detailed view of what is happening during the slow down. That way you can narrow in on what processes, services, drivers, threads, etc. are consuming the CPU cycles.
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#11 fohaba

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 08:57 AM

It just happened again right now. Firefox shoots up to 80% or so, the total pegs at 100%, the computer slows to a crawl, I shut down, re-boot, and everything works just fine. It seems to happen mostly in the morning, and within about 1/2 hour or so of booting up. It then usually act fine for the rest of the day, after I shut down and re-boot.

I have no idea what this could be.

David

#12 Synetech

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 10:29 AM

Next time you reboot, use Task Manager or Process Explorer to view the list of running processes; note them down on paper.

When the slow down happens again, repeat the process above and compare the two lists.

Post any differences here (are there any new processes? have any processes suddenly increased their memory usage by a lotóeg more than doubled?, etc.)
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#13 fohaba

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 08:58 AM

OK. It happened again this morning, just like clockwork.

Fresh Boot-up:

System Idle Process: 99%
All other processes: 0%

After 15 minutes and a little surfing on line:

Firefox 85%
Thunderbird 6%
Bitmeter 2 3% (This is a little utility that measures internet usage that I installed a couple days ago, and has not affected this problem at all)
Airplus 3%
Explorer 1%
Taskmgr 1%

Computer almost unusable at this point.

Almost every time when this happens, a cold shutdown and re-boot fixes it for the rest of the day. Curiously, this morning after I re-booted and went on line to post this, the usage shot up again.

Firefox appears to be the offender here, but it does the same thing with Chrome.

I have all extensions turned off in FF. Plug-ins running are Acrobat, Java Deployment Toolkit (just turned it off to see what happens), Mozilla Default Plug-in, Shockwave Flash. Are these same extensions used in Chrome?

Since this only happens once a day, typically, and only first thing in the morning, tonight before I shut down I'll disable the rest of the plug-ins.

Any other ideas?

Thanks for sticking with me on this!

David

#14 Synetech

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 03:52 PM

You can check your Chromium extensions and plugins by going to chrome://extensions and chrome://plugins respectively.

The browsers should not be sucking cycles like crazy on their own. What is your homepage set to? If you set your homepages to something with a bunch of JavaScript and Flash, then they will of course bog the system down. Try setting your homepage to about:blank and see if the same thing happens when you start up.
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#15 fohaba

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 08:15 AM

The home page I open Firefox up on is google.com. But I usually then go to nytimes.com, which has all sorts of flash and graphics and stuff. I wouldn't think that would be enough to choke the computer, but that's beside the point anyway.

What really frustrates and confuses me is that one it happens, it stays choked, regardless of whether I then navigate to another page, or shut down FF or Chrome completely. Only a cold reboot will fix it. Except the last two mornings, a cold boot didn't fix it. I just rebooted now, and the first page I went to (after the google.com homepage) was here. CPU is 25-50%, and I'm doing nothing.

The other odd thing, it the other processes that I listed- they're all 0% until this happens, and then they all start working at a few percent each, adding up to a significant CPU usage in total. These other processes, too, stay running at that higher rate, even after I close FF.

I'm starting to think a format and complete re-install is what will be necessary. I picture corrupted registry or conflicting software updates being behind all this.

David




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