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Win XP High Memory usage & some 100% CPU spikes

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I have a Win XP Home SP2 Dell Inspiron 630m laptop. I run McAfee AntiVirus, Windows Defender, ZoneAlarm as protection. IE is the primary browser. 1 GB RAM.

1. CPU maxes out at 100% - typically after boot up, and then many times sporadically during the day
2. The 1 GB RAM usually maxes out quickly and then I have to bring up Task Manager and shut down programs. Typically I have MS Outlook running along with maybe 1-2 word/excel docs and occassionally some PDF docs
3. Every day windows update seems to download and install updates even though I have specified it to do so only on Sundays at 6 AM. I cant believe that my OS needs updates every day

Please help get this machine back to normal. My laptop is now becoming a productivity inhibitor rather than the other way around.

No logs outside of Malware please
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Can someone help with this? My RAM just went to 1.3 MB and slowed the machine to death. Had to go to task manager and shut down a bunch of programs including Acrobat32, Outlook, Google desktop, etc.
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In my opinion, you are using 3 serious resource demanding applications full-time as security. Mcafee, Zone Alarm and Defender all are high on the list for resource usage and low on the list for effectiveness. All are often cited as being troublesome to users on the boards.

In fairness, your particular problem may not be related to any of them. It is essential to discover what is hogging the CPU and what is consuming RAM.
Process Explorer (free) is the best "Super Taskmanager" I know about:

Go ahead for now and include all the columns that seem valuable, including CPU Time. If sorted by CPU Time (just click the column header) the processes will list according to the amount of time they each have accessed the processor. The 'bad guys' should be near the top.

For RAM, sort by "Working set size" to get a list of memory consumption from highest to lowest.

It may be possible that you have Indexing Service running. If so, turn it off. it may also be possible that you are suffering the effects of ctfmon.exe. If so, go to: Control Panel>Regional and Language Options>Languages>Details>Advanced, and check the box that says "Turn off advanced text services." If that creates problems, go back and turn it back on.

I like free WinPatrol for many reasons, but particullary for start-up control: http://www.winpatrol.com/ WinPatrol makes it easy to turn off/on auto-start for all nonessential processes. It is likely that you have multiple update processes running full time in the background- java, apple, etc.

I turn off all those updaters and do the job manually on a set schedule. Sunday is my update/scan day. It makes the rest of the week much smoother.

Automatic Windows Updates can be problematic, and are not required. Microsoft puts out updates only once a month. (Second Tues.) I suggest turning off Automatic Updates completely, and visiting http://www.update.mi...t.aspx?ln=en-us manually with IE to get the updates once a month.

For more info on gaining control of your system, see my post on Vox: http://doc1101.vox.com/ The links there are not live. Copy and paste the URLs to your browser address bar to view the referenced pages.
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Thank you 1101doc.

My indexing service is on manual start already. I did turn off the language/text thing like you suggested.

I use Task Manager. I did download process explorer some months ago but it is so human hostile I cant decipher most of it despite being a techie. Maybe I should just spend some time on it.

My usual culprits for RAM and CPU spikes are:
1. Servicehost.exe
2. McAfee
3. Outlook
4. Word
5. Google desktop
6. IE6 - depending on site I visit and how many tabs I have open

I use McAfee because I got it free from my ISP. Same for ZoneAlarm and Defender (free).

Here are the things I have done and doing so far:
1. I have TuneUp Utilities and thro that have disabled anything I dont need during Startup
2. Regularly defrag and clean registry using TuneUp
3. Checked all the services and made manual things I dont need
4. Disabled automatic windows updates (after seeing your post)
5. Regularly clean out temp files and IE cache etc
6. Disk defrag every 2 months or so

Any further ideas are appreciated.
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Sometimes 'free' is just to expensive, but we don't yet know what is causing the svchost spikes.

Process Explorer-

Fire it up and click the left hand colum header(Process) until it just shows a list of processes. Next, go to "View" and "Select columns." Here, try starting with these:
Process Image- Description and company Name
Process Performance- CPU and CPU Time
Process Memory- Working set size
Status bar- CPU Usage, commit charge, and number of processes.

After the OK, all those columns will appear in Process Explorer.

Next, left click and hold the column header for "CPU" and slide(drag) it over to the seperator bar just after the first column.(Processes). Drop it there.
Do the same for the other columns until your set-up goes:
Processes/CPU/CPU Time/Working Set/Description/Company/PID
Click the "CPU Time" column header to sort for processor usage, (my default setting) and the "Working set size" column header to sort for RAM usage. You can play with other choices later, of course.

To make the Process Explorer window more size friendly, resize the width of the columns by placing the cursor over the seperators of the columns and sliding them together to remove the blank space in the columns. The full details of columns like "Description" will still show as a 'tooltip' on mouse-over. I like to squeeze it down until Procexp in only half-screen and the horizontal slider bar disappears. I have Procexp display on the right side of the screen and Taskmanager on the left.

Once set up, mouse over the offending svchost to see which Services are involved, and investigaste them one-at-a-time.
This will help you discover exactly what is going on.

About those 'tooltips-'

I think the white background of tooltips makes them hard to read, so I changed them to bright yellow. Here's how I did it:

I right clicked the open Desktop and selected Properties. I opened the "Appearance" tab and clicked "Advanced." I used the drop-down menu labeled "Item" to select "tooltip," and then, just to the right, used the "Color 1" drop down to choose the bright yellow square. You might like another color. OK. APPLY. OK. The desktop will "grey out" and Windows will say "Please Wait.." After a few seconds the change will be applied, and all will return to normal, except the tooltips will now be the new color. If the print is too small, the font and font size can be managed from the same location.

Be aware that 'balloon messages' are tooltips as well, so they will also reflect these changes.

I can't say for sure in your case, but many folks have had trouble with Google Desktop. In any event, I would go into the configuration and settings of all your constantly running apps and disable logging and updating wherever possible. It may well be that some of them are "phoning home" and writing extensive logs all the time.

On a side note, let me say that no matter how respected the utility, "cleaning" the Registry is asking for trouble. It really provides no perceptible benefit, and risks removing something vital. I can think of no Microsoft MVP who recommends it. Consider: http://www.windowsbb...y-cleaners.html And: http://www.edbott.com/weblog/?p=643

What should be done about the Registry?
Back it up so that it can be easily restored.

ERUNT: http://www.larsheder...nline.de/erunt/
Tutorial: http://www.larsheder...erunt/erunt.txt
Simple with screenshots: http://www.winxptutor.com/regback.htm

ERUNT is an essential part of my system, allowing my to "go back" to a fully functional state with just a couple of clicks, a few seconds wait, and a reboot. I can no longer imagine trying to manage a Windows system without it.

Edited by 1101doc, 12 August 2008 - 10:55 AM.

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