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  1. #1
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    SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    I've never encountered this before, and haven't a clue where to start looking. I recently worked on an HP system with Media Center, and wound up performing a "restore" - meaning HP style, where data is left intact but the PC is returned to a factory state.

    Well, almost.

    I can't believe that from the factory, SYSTEM would appear to use 100% of the CPU's time. I say "appear" because the interface is generally responsive, but boot time is much slower than it should be and certain operations take much longer - for example, the desktop takes a long time to load after login.

    Safe mode gets rid of the problem, VGA mode does not. Hardware tests were all successful. I'm wondering if it's remnants of the Norton Security Suite or some other application with kernel-level privileges, but I was loathe to remove anything without more information.

    Anyone encountered such a phenomenon, or have suggestions on what to look at? I did not have time to perform full clean-boot troubleshooting, as I was onsite at a client's residence, making time a commodity. Maybe I should have taken more time, because now it looks like a return trip is in order, but I would hate to go with no additional knowledge!!
    -Mark

  2. #2
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    I'd get AutoRuns for Windows v8.73, Process Explorer v11.04, & Process Monitor v1.26 from Microsoft TechNet: Windows Sysinternals. You can see & disable autostart entries, monitor processes, files, and the registry. This system.exe takes all cpu - Google Search has lots of links to explore.

    Joe

  3. #3
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    Thanks, Joe. After reading I got to thinking about what services were running that might be at fault. Turns out it was one of my least favorite things, Norton Internet Security. The restore left it in a partially running state (services but no GUI), so Symantec is not so much at fault as is HP for a faulty recovery, but performance snapped back when it was gone.

    Oddly, I still see high SYSTEM usage, but it's not affecting performance. I guess that's some form of success.
    -Mark

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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    I'd still try to find out why SYSTEM is hogging the CPU but that's just me. This Live Search: system.exe high cpu usage also shows lots of possibilities. What a pain to diagnose. I guess some success is good. <img src=/S/shrug.gif border=0 alt=shrug width=39 height=15>

    Joe

  5. #5
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    Joe, I would normally agree with you on this but since it was an hourly call, I left the judgment to my client. They opted not to troubleshoot further since performance is as it should be, but with the understanding that should I have to come back and the problem is determined to be related, it will be a billable call. I would have been happy to diagnose all day and night while charging by the hour, but it seemed a little greedy. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    Sometimes, I love consulting.
    -Mark

  6. #6
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    A follow up to this issue, since it came back - SYSTEM pegging CPU usage. I'm fairly convinced this is a hardware problem, as it happens with a clean boot as well as a normal one. I've disconnected all the hardware internally except for the HDD and a stick of RAM, and still it remains. While researching, I found that SYSTEM (not system.exe) covers a lot of networking components under one umbrella, among other things. Searching for SYSTEM PID 4 on Google yielded some more relevant results as well.

    Now it's off to replace a mainboard and see what happens.
    -Mark

  7. #7
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    Wtih more searching and reading there sure seems to be many things that can cause this issue. Many threads seem to point to drivers. I saw one where disabling printer ports fixed it. Good luck <img src=/S/anigrin.gif border=0 alt=anigrin width=19 height=19>.

    Joe

  8. #8
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    A (semi) final update on this one: it's the motherboard. The entire system is dead now, but the blue ring around the power button lights up. It turns out that the client has a parts and labor service agreement, so I told them to have Best Buy replace the mainboard. So far as I know, they haven't done that yet, but at least it solves the mystery!
    -Mark

  9. #9
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    Well, at least there is a known cause. I hope you got lots of billable hours out of it - kind of a New Year's gift. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    Joe

  10. #10
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    Re: SYSTEM Process taking 100% CPU Time (XP MCE)

    Let's just say that it will easily pay for the Nintendo Wii that I promised my kids... if I can ever find one. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

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