CPU @ 100%, 100% of the time?!

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Augh... where to begin...

I've seen my number of weird problems, but never anything like this problem I noticed two days ago. I look at the task manager, and my computer is running at 100%, all of the time, and because of this, it runs slow as hell and crashes frequently.

My first thought was it had to be some severe case of spyware. I scanned with Ad-aware, Spybot, and Spyware Doctor. I found a few things, restarted, and promptly hit my head on the keyboard. Still 100% CPU usage. I moved up a step on the "oh noes!" ladder. It must be a virus! I scanned with F-Secure (more on that later >_<) as well as Trend Micro House Call. F-Secure found a few viruses (not unexpected), which I had to remove manually. After doing so, I restarted once again, and hoped for the best. If I'm posting this now, obviously you can tell what happened. Still 100%.

I searched around on the Internet, and found various forum posts of people asking for help with the same problem. The thing is, everyone who did solve it, seems to have solved it in a completely different way. Some uninstalled excess programs (tried it) and it stopped. Some killed off unnecessary services (tried it). Some reformatted and it went away. Some reformatted and it didn't go away. Most of the people mentioned that when they killed the explorer.exe task, their CPU usage dropped, and when they started it up again as a new task, it jumped to 100% again. This isn't the case for me; even without explorer.exe running, my CPU usage is 100%.

I tried a System Restore. I jumped back in time 3 days. I said hello to all of the desktop icons which I had deleted since then, and checked the task manager. Still 100%.

I booted up into safe mode. I figured if it was a problem with some driver or virus, the issue wouldn't appear in safe mode. I was wrong. Even in safe mode, my CPU runs at 100%.

I thought maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with F-Secure. It's provided free by my cable ISP (Charter), so I didn't think twice about using it. Hey, free virus protection! All good, right? Wrong. The damned thing runs no less than 12 separate processes in the background, and consumes over 70MB of RAM. I uninstalled F-Secure, and found that I was unable to use my browser(s) to get any information. I'd get "searching for http://www.google.com," and then "done" moments later, without anything appearing on the screen. I don't understand why, since I didn't have F-Secure running anything that would restrict or even otherwise affect my Internet connection - I only used it for the virus scanning. With much less hair then an hour earlier, I reinstalled the disaster, and my ability to surf was restored.

If you didn't read any of the above, atleast read this. Here's my HijackThis log (right click, save as -_-). After a cursory scan, I don't see anything that would be causing this (aside from the mass of F-Secure feces that has been splattered all over my system, but like I said earlier, the problem happened when it was gone). I'm at my wit's end. As I said above, some people even reformatted their hard drive and the problem persisted. I would reformat, but my computer did not come with the Windows XP CD. I have a Windows XP CD from my old computer, but it's the "upgrade" copy. From what I've read, you're not able to reformat with the upgrade CD. I have a product key from that CD, however.

So, I'm posting this in hopes that someone knows something that could help me without having to buy (again) a $200 copy of Windows XP to reformat my hard drive, which can't even be guaranteed to fix my problem. (i.e. the first person to read nothing but the topic title and reply with "zomg reformat" gets a boot where the sun doesn't shine)

Help me, O Greater Gods of Tech.
 
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Why would you have to buy XP again? You know you can use the installation disc more than once.. right? :x

Complete format + reinstallation of OS and still problems = hardware problem, not software.

Can't really say much else without being physically present at the comp, sorry.
 
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im gonna go with kurt on this one. also, its highly unlikely. but you might have something "shorting" your system. check in the case for dust, dead bugs etc...

my aunt had the most humongous dead moth sprawled on her motherboard @_@ the pc kept crashing till it was cleaned.
 
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Me said:
I would reformat, but my computer did not come with the Windows XP CD. I have a Windows XP CD from my old computer, but it's the "upgrade" copy. From what I've read, you're not able to reformat with the upgrade CD.
Is that true or not true? I didn't get a Windows XP CD when I purchased this computer, just "recovery CDs" for all of the crappy software that OEM computers come crammed with. The only Windows XP CD I have is the "upgrade from Windows 98/95/whatever" CD that I bought when I upgraded my old computer to Windows XP years ago. Are you able to do a fresh install of Windows XP from that? It doesn't sound like you can.

EDIT: Gir, you're a lifesaver! (thanks Kurt, as well) I didn't even think of it being a hardware problem! I clean the case out atleast once a month, so I ruled something like that out too early. I took some compressed air to the case, and didn't see much dust in there at all. Without much hope, I booted it back up and it's running fine!

What would have been the problem? Would the CPU been constantly polling a device that it couldn't see due to a short? I wasn't getting any "missing hardware" errors or anything.

Now to destroy F-Secure and get an anti-virus program that doesn't eat RAM like it's going out of style. I found a free version of AVG antivirus, is that any good? And just for the record, are you able to do a fresh reinstall of Windows off the upgrade CD?

Thanks for the help and the saved hair.
 
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If you formatted the drive, installed Win98, then upgraded to XP that would basically be a "fresh install".

As for the cause of the 100% cpu usage, I've never heard of anything causing that. Normally it's a device overheating causing low-level logic errors in computations and causing programs to randomly **** themselves.

Hardware has so many points of failure. ;)
 
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100% usage can be caused by some spyware, so check on that before you rip your HDD into kibble with a format.

No one spyware checker can get them all, try spyware blaster and spybot search and destroy.
 
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Sounds like that MS Blaster Virus that was out awhile back. It uses the SVChost.exe to use 100%of your cpu.

Search for 100% SVChost.exe or MSBlaster worm on google and go from there,

also check your task manager to see if it is that causing it. formatting and re-installing didn't help me untill i got the fixes from norton and microsoft.
 
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I fixed it, it was a buildup of dust in the case. o_o

Like I said in my last post, I clean out the case frequently, but...I guess not frequently enough! It must've been in just the right place to short something.

Spyware was my first thought, that's why I had such a tough time fixing it. I was looking in the totally wrong place.

Thanks to everyone who replied. This thread has served its purpose. =)
 
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yes true , dust build up can slow your pc down, I noticed this with my old case , with my old gpu cooler (stock mind you) it was full of dust and giving me lag in dvd playback , so i cleaned the fan and it worked fine (got rid of it though for a tt orb cooler , pretty basic , but meh). I also noticed this in my cpu cooler fan where i cleaned it out for dust and my cpu temps were atleast reporting 3degrees cooler (a little small , but cooler the better)

I had a simlar problem a few formats back (i generaly reformat once a year or so my pc doesn't get clogged up heaps , as some of us will do at one stage or just clean it with a ghost image of a setup or they may use alot of cleaning tools to keep their pc in tip top shape)

What i noticed though is an iexplore.exe running constantly that ate on my resources , so i just got rid of it from the msconfig as it was a process that started when my pc booted into windows. I generaly didn't notice much problem after that (must of been a n00b's version of spyware/virus/worm).
 
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I know your problem has been solved Dragon, but I was wondering if you could say what process was using all your CPU power, you were probably going under the performance section. But, if you ever checked processes, I was wondering which, if any, processes were using 100% CPU.
I rarely clean out my case so it's good to know a solution just in case anything like this comes up for me. Mine jumps between 2 and 5%, I probably need to get some compessed air myself :\
 
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Tassadar said:
I know your problem has been solved Dragon, but I was wondering if you could say what process was using all your CPU power
The System Idle Process. It wasn't using 100% of the CPU itself, but it was using a large majority of what processing was happening (like normal).
 
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My system idle process has been erratic lately too...maybe I should clean up.

I have had similar problems with OneTouch.exe, the software that makes the single backup button on my XHD work.

As for AVG, well, I'll tell you this much...it's not very intuitive to use, and it spawns like 6 executables for each of it's different portions, but it gets it done and you can disable individual pieces. It's certainly a degree safer than nothing.
 

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