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Windows 7: Intermittent 100% CPU load, slow down, can't find the cause

27 Feb 2019   #41

Win 7 Pro 64 bit

Hello again... after a long gap.

New Autoruns (.arn) file is attached (zip format as actual .arn file is over 8 Mbytes).

Unfortunately, the problem still persists, after many attempts to diagnose and fix it.

To recap: Periodically (could be after a delay of 2 mins, 5 mins, 10 mins - seems a bit random), the CPU usage in Windows Task manager > Performance jumps to 100% and stays there for a while (could be anything from 30 seconds to, say, two minutes), then it drops back to a lower, normal [level. When up at 100%, just about everything else grinds to a crawl.

Using Win Task Mgr > Processes (all users) I cannot see a specific rogue process or task which is causing this. It can happen when the "Image name" is Chrome, Firefox, Opera. In the CPU column, the figure can be up to, say, around 50, but never up around 100 (even through the bar graph in the Performance tab is showing 100%.

If I am running, say, Firefox (Chrome and Opera not running) and this happens, then if I close Firefox the CPU usage drops back to normal after a few seconds. Same applies if the "top task" was, say, Opera: close it and the CPU load drops back to normal.

In other words, whatever the main process or task (or "image") I am using, something is making it jump up to 100% CPU load for a period of time.

I tries starting in Safe Mode and then doing some normal web browsing using (I think) Opera. The problem didn't appear. I'm not sure if I left it long enough to be sure that it wasn't going to happen...

...but if we assume that it doesn't occur in Safe Mode, can someone give me some basic instructions on how to diagnose the issue from Safe Mode (e.g. selectively re-enabling drivers(??))

One irritation is that, in Safe Mode, there is no audio. Is there an easy way to get audio working in Safe Mode without editing the Registry (which is what was suggested in one website I saw).

Many thanks
Melbourne, Australia

Attached Files
File Type: zip Autoruns report (293.3 KB, 1 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Feb 2019   #42
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Go to the Logon tab in Autoruns and uncheck the following for testing:

Persistence persistence Module Intel Corporation c:\windows\system32\igfxpers.exe 1/10/2012 2:19 PM

Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox, Inc. c:\program files (x86)\dropbox\client\dropbox.exe 2/19/2019 4:18 PM

RealDownloader RealDownloader c:\program files (x86)\real\realdownloader\downloader2.exe 11/15/2018 5:29 PM

TkBellExe RealNetworks Scheduler RealNetworks, Inc. c:\program files (x86)\real\realplayer\update\realsched.exe 11/15/2018 6:02 PM

3xAV MySpeed Loader Enounce Incorporated c:\program files (x86)\enounce\myspeed\myspeed.exe 2/2/2019 6:56 AM

CCleaner Monitoring CCleaner Piriform Ltd c:\program files\ccleaner\ccleaner64.exe 7/13/2016 1:20 PM

f.lux f.lux f.lux Software LLC c:\users\pp\appdata\local\fluxsoftware\flux\flux.exe 10/24/2018 1:40 PM

Opera Browser Assistant Opera Browser Assistant Opera Software c:\users\pp\appdata\local\programs\opera\assistant\browser_assistant.exe 1/1/2019 10:00 PM

Skype for Desktop Skype Skype Technologies S.A. c:\program files (x86)\microsoft\skype for desktop\skype.exe 1/25/2019 12:54 PM

RealTimes.lnk RealPlayer with RealTimes RealNetworks, Inc. c:\program files (x86)\real\realplayer\rpds\bin\rpsystray.exe 11/15/2018 5:19 PM

Google Chrome Google Chrome Installer Google Inc. c:\program files (x86)\google\chrome\application\72.0.3626.119\installer\chrmstp.exe 2/18/2019 10:00 PM

Now click the Everything tab and in Autoruns and search for adobe. Uncheck all of those.

Reboot your computer and see if the problem still exists. If it doesn't then reenable each module one at a time with each computer restart until you find the problem.

Also, Persistence can stay deactivated. You don't need it on all the time.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Feb 2019   #43
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

As to safe mode, you don't want to operate your computer in safe mode. That's just for testing. And since the problem doesn't occur in safe mode that tells me it's a start up or driver, etc causing the issue.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Feb 2019   #44

Win 7 Pro 64 bit

Thanks! I've followed your instructions and it all seems to be behaving well - no sudden CPU loading. I'm going to keep using the computer for a bit longer to make sure that all is well and then start step-by-step re-enabling (and re-booting) as you suggest.

I did do a test with one of the items just now: TkBellexe. This is some sort of scheduler for RealPlayer, and it installs another task: realsched.exe With these in place, after a minute or two the CPU load shot up to 99% - 100%.

I'm therefore quite suspicious about these items. As mentioned, I have disabled them again and want to make sure that all is OK without them running; then re-enable to see if the issue returns.

It would make sense that the problem could be related to some sort of scheduler, due to intermittent nature.

Will report back later.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #45

Win 7 Pro 64 bit

I may have spoken too soon - I think it's doing it again :-(

It certainly seemed to shoot up to 100% for a while, but I was using Chrome at that point and I have heard that Chrome itself can cause a lot of problems. I will do some further testing using Opera and Firefox. However, I would like to have Chrome working as I use the Grammarly writing application and this appears only have am add-on / extension for CHrome, not the others.

Regarding Autoruns: If I look through the "Everything" tab I see man other entries. I assume these are all in the Registry, and many of them are related to programs I have installed. Note sure if any of these apart from Adobe-related ones, require attention. I have attached a .arn file for an Autoruns analysis just now - I assume that this will show the changes made as per your instructions.

UPDATE: Sorry to say that the problem does seem to still be there. While I was typing the above paragraph, the CPU load shot up to 100% and the fan speeded up and typing on the screen got rather laggy. CPU stayed at 100% for about 20 seconds, then dropped down. Now, as I types this, CPU usage is showing a healthy 9%. Now it has jumped to 56%, now back to 9%. What is going on...? (Memory is at 3.82GB out of the installed 8GB.)

One fundamental question: Is it normal that there can be tasks or processes which take so much CPU resource and yet are not visible in the Task Manager > Processes tab or in Process Explorer?

PS There are two other items in the Logon tab which your instructions didn't refer to, namely: NUSB3MON and RUSCB3MON.

I believe these are the driver(s) for a USB 3. 0 Express Card (i.e. an Express Card which adds 2 x USB 3 ports to the laptop). This USB 3 card is not installed at the moment, so these two items should not be needed. I'll try un-checking them and then re-start.

Attached Files
File Type: zip Win 7 20170228 (301.1 KB, 2 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #46
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Okay. Try disabling these under the Scheduled Tasks tab.

\G2MUpdateTask-S-1-5-21-3345699460-1060094371-2920337070-1000 GoToMeeting LogMeIn, Inc. c:\users\pp\appdata\local\gotomeeting\11882\g2mupdate.exe 2/22/2019 6:08 PM

There are two.

\G2MUploadTask-S-1-5-21-3345699460-1060094371-2920337070-1000 GoToMeeting LogMeIn, Inc. c:\users\pp\appdata\local\gotomeeting\11882\g2mupload.exe 2/22/2019 6:08 PM

\RealDownloader Update Check RealDownloader c:\program files (x86)\real\realdownloader\downloader2.exe 11/15/2018 5:29 PM

\RealDownloaderRealUpgradeLogonTaskS-1-5-21-3345699460-1060094371-2920337070-1000 RealUpgrade Launcher RealNetworks, Inc. c:\program files (x86)\real\realdownloader\realupgrade.exe 11/15/2018 5:30 PM

\RealDownloaderRealUpgradeScheduledTaskS-1-5-21-3345699460-1060094371-2920337070-1000 RealUpgrade Launcher RealNetworks, Inc. c:\program files (x86)\real\realdownloader\realupgrade.exe 11/15/2018 5:30 PM

Reboot the computer.

Now when the computer reboots launch Process Hacker and click the CPU tab so you organize all items with highest CPU usage. Does anything stick out?

Downloads - Process Hacker
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #47
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Run Chrome and then run Ring3 API Hook Scanner. Detect Inline, IAT and EAT hooks with Ring3 API Hook Scanner | NoVirusThanks

Also run Stream Armor. In the options turn on all options except turn off folder scan for streams.

Stream Armor : Free Tool to Scan & Clean Malicious Alternate Data Streams (ADS) |

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #48

Win 7 Pro 64 bit

Many thanks for the additional information.

I haven't unchecked any more items in Autorruns yet (e.g. the Scheduled tasks) as, for the moment, it seems to be running OK (although I did see one short-term jump to CPU 100% which lasted about 20 or 30 seconds).

I'm waiting to see if the problem repeats as I carry on with normal use of the PC (on the large VGA-connected screen). If it doesn't, then I will start re-enabling the already-disabled items one by one (with re-boots).

The further instructions regarding API Hook Scanner etc. are opening up a whole new world to me - sounds rather complex, hope I don't have to go there!

One issue I haven't been able to fathom: How can there be this weird behaviour without anything strange showing up in Process Explorer? Can there be 'invisible' tasks or processes which occupy the CPU in this way?

Lastly, I wanted to experiment with taking a screen video using my mobile phone. This shows the 'ticking over' ("no problem") condition:

X201t ticking over low CPU load 2019030112H33 - YouTube

If it starts playing up again I'll do my best to be quick on the draw and capture it on video.

Thanks so much again for all your help - this is the only real progress I have made with this in over six months.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #49
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

If it spikes to 100% again, see if it does indeed show up in Process Hacker or Process Explorer. In there you can see the components of the process and perhaps ID what the culprit is.

I'm kinda suspecting Chrome and something else hooking to it or using it. If all else fails, try uninstalling Chrome with Revo Uninstaller in safe mode as a test. Then use Firefox and see if the CPU load comes back.

Download Revo Uninstaller Freeware - Free and Full Download - Uninstall software, remove programs, solve uninstall problems

Stream Armor and Ring3 API Hook Scanner are just simple scanners that help root out malware that traditional anti-virus may not even be able to detect. I'm quite curious what Ring3 API Hook Scanner shows when Chrome is running.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Feb 2019   #50
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Something else that may clue you into what's going on is the small program Whatchanged and Disk Pulse.

Whatchanged will allow you to take a snap shot of your current running state with files and registry entries and then latter compare that baseline to a new scan of what changed. The text files are in the program's directory. You may want to use Notepad++ to open them.

Disk Pulse shows you in real time what your hard drive is doing. That may come in handy.

Download What Changed - MajorGeeks

DiskPulse - Disk Change Monitor

Notepad++ Home

It's definitely some dll or service that's doing it since under safe mode you don't exhibit this behavior.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Intermittent 100% CPU load, slow down, can't find the cause

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