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Windows XP - system process - high CPU use - any ideas?

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I've just downloaded Process Tamer in the hope that it might help to tame or explain the high CPU use of the system process on my system - it should run at about 0 or 1 percent but it's regularly (every few minutes) running up to +90% ... which is ridiculous and causes constant system slowdowns.
Note: I'm not referring to the system idle process - this is a separate process which has the name system and which is detailed on various websites as a virus-free Windows counter process.
Rather oddly, Process Tamer doesn't even show the system process but WinTask 5 and the old faithful Windows Task Manager do.
Constantly worrying about viruses, trojans, etc, I've run various versions of the latest virus checkers (Norton, AVG, NOD32, etc) but they all report no viruses, trojans, etc.
Can anybody help?

process tamer tends not to show processes it can't tame (system process).

its probably a system driver of some sort causing this.

problems like these which are hard to predict when they will occur can be hard to diagnose.  i'm looking forward to seeing if anyone has better advice.  one thing to check is system event log to see if there is anything there, and if you can narrow down when it occurs, try temporarily disabling some services from the system services dialog which is easy and safe to do (safe in the sense that a reboot will fix any issues), and see if that kills it.

here's an example of something i found was causing me the kind of phenomena you are describing:
NOD32 antivirys freaking out over some files.  it would just silently hang for minutes, without warning and without and easy way to see in process manager which driver was causing it (bad windows design! bad bill gates!).

disabling NOD32 didn't solve it either, had to unload it from memory until i found the offending files and mark them as to be ignored.

so i def recommend trying to shut down services until you can find the culprit, and let us know what you find.

and if someone knows a better way to find what system drivers eat up the cpu i'd love to know.

Thanks for the reply.
I have already been thinking that NOD32 is the culprit as this is a recent phenomenon which coincided with the installation of NOD32!
I haven't got time to try working out which driver may be causing the problem so I think I might completely uninstall NOD32 and see if that improves things.
And maybe I should drop them a line to see if they can offer any advice.

there's a good nod32 forum at wilder's:

i think its a very good idea to uninstall it and see if problem dissapears, if so then you can decide what to do next.
i like nod32 and worked around this behavior by disabling the heuristics modes which i find unnesc. and adding exclusiong to the file scanning of the files it hated.

im trying to remember how i figured out which files it was stuck on, maybe either the program called filemon or else maybe through nod32 window itself (you can open it and have it show currently scanning file).

as i remember there were 2 distinct cases that freaked out nod32 on my machine:
1) was a set of html files of all things, so when i started this app that used them, nod32 would slow system to a crawl.
2) a shell extension dll, which triggered when i right clicked on a file.

both were solved by exclusing the file/folder in nod32 exclusion optoins.

I've now uninstalled and re-booted the PC.
It's been running for about 20 minutes with no slow-downs or 100% CPU use.
So I guess it was something to do with NOD32.


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