How Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

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My machine is slower than molasses in the winter time. I suspect that one or more programs are simply using up all of the available CPU time. How do I tell which ones they might be so that I can turn them off, or whatever?

Yep, that sounds slow.

It happens to me from time to time as well. A program decides it has something very, very important to do and uses all the computer’s processing power to do it.

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to find out which program that might be.

Read moreHow Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

Should I Get a Dual-Core or a Quad-core Processor?

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For a home user with no special programs and no gaming, am I better off with a single core processor or a dual core processor? I play no games. I simply have a few usual things (word processor, registry cleaners, anti-spy and security stuff, etc.) but I need a new PC. This one is over 10 years old. It is SLOW even after cleaning the registry, defragging, optimizing, and everything else. Would I be better off with a dual core or a single core processor?

Normally, I stay away from specific processor recommendations because things change so much, and so often, and I’m just not one of those people that wants to do a detailed comparison between processor A and processor B. There are plenty of other passionate people who’ll happily do that all day long.

In this, however, I do have an opinion: more cores may be better, but too many may not be worth it.

Read moreShould I Get a Dual-Core or a Quad-core Processor?

What’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

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I was looking at some ads for various computers and noticed some confusing CPU info. For example:

  • Acer desktop with i5-650 @ 3.2GHz
  • SYX Gamer desktop with i7-950 @ 3.06GHz
  • Sony Vaio laptop with i7-740QM @ 1.73GHz

I always thought an i7 was better than an i5, which was better than an i3. Based on the above, is the Acer CPU better (as in more powerful, efficient, and faster) than either of the i7s? And why would one i7 (the SYX) be about 75% faster and more powerful than the Sony i7?

To call it confusing only scratches the surface of the processor nomenclature and configuration. In my opinion, it’s more complex than mere mortals can comprehend.

Sadly, I am but a mere mortal.

However, I will share my priorities, which the average consumer may share when selecting a computer. In so doing, I’m sure I’ll annoy some of the geekier members of my audience. Smile

I’ll also look at a few more things about the processor configuration mix, and compare the three processors you list.

Read moreWhat’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

Why Won’t My Program use More than 25% of the CPU?

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I am running a VERY LONG Excel’03 Spreadsheet (can be configured to loop calculating alternatives for hours using an embedded Basic Program/Macro). I am running this on a Quad Core Intel Q6600 with 4 GB.

When I check in Task Manager, the System Idle Process will not drop LOWER than 75% and the Excel Process will max out at 25%. I’ve tried upping the priority of the process and have checked the “affinity” to ensure it’s using all 4 processor cores. The Performance tab does show activity / load on all 4 processor windows.

What’s up? Why can’t I utilize more than 25% of my system when I want to use it for a high priority and very lengthy task?

It’s one of the most frustrating things to experience. Here you go and spend extra money to get that super fast quad- (or more) core processor, throw a huge task at it expecting it to go two or four times faster…

And it just pokes along.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that there’s nothing wrong. The bad news is that … there’s nothing to be fixed. This is completely expected, and depends entirely on the software you’re running.

Read moreWhy Won’t My Program use More than 25% of the CPU?

Is Moore’s Law over?

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My current computer is about 8 months old. It’s still being sold at Best Buy as new computer for about the same price. Also, many of the other models are about the same as mine. Nothing like this was around a decade ago. Is Moore’s law finished? Have we hit a barrier in new computers for speed? Or is it market forces that are simply responding to good enough computing?

Moore’s Law is often inaccurately quoted as saying that computer speeds double every set number of years. In reality, what Gordon Moore observed some years ago is that the number of transistors that can be packed on to a single chip was doubling roughly every two years.

Now I can’t tell you whether that still holds true. There are certainly physical limitations manufacturers must be encountering at some point, but some other interesting things have been happening as well.

Read moreIs Moore’s Law over?

Why is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

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I’m experiencing a strange quirk using one of my programs. At times of intense calculations, the program itself stops responding. Yet my PC remains perfectly usable. I’ve looked into the resource manager and I notice at these times, the program is using exactly 25% of the available processor power. That figures constant until the program unfreezes. My processor has 4 cores and all are available. The program is allowed to use all the cores though none of them are registering high usage at the time the program freezes other than the one. Do you have any idea why this might be happening and possibly a way to get the program to use the rest of the resources that it has available to it?

I experience almost the exact same thing from time to time. I too, have a quad core machine and occasionally it will be running at exactly 25% CPU usage as only one of the cores is maxed out by some program that I’m running.

But I know why.

Read moreWhy is only one core on my multi-core processor being maxed out?

Why Does My Sound Quality Degrade over Time?

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I have Windows 7, 64-bit, on an Asus motherboard with 8 GB of RAM. This issue is about my onboard sound. The sound degrades the longer the desktop is left on. By the fourth day, I’m getting static, audio dropouts, and even a sluggish wired mouse. As soon as I reboot, these issues disappear until two or three days later. I added a Diamond sound card which made matters worse, especially the static. Now, I’m back to my onboard sound. I’m at my wits’ end. I’ve been getting advice like “move the sound card” but there is no separate sound card and why would rebooting eliminate the problem?

This sounds like a software problem, possibly one that’s not related to your sound hardware at all.

Before I discuss how to deal with that, let’s check something.

Read moreWhy Does My Sound Quality Degrade over Time?

Monitoring Your System with Resource Monitor

When diagnosing a system problem or even just monitoring the health of a working system, it’s useful to peek “under the hood” to see what’s going on.

Windows 7 added a handy utility called Resource Monitor that does just that. It provides more information than the existing Task Manager without getting into all of the esoteric and often confusing detail of Process Explorer.

Resource Manager is a useful tool to have in your back pocket.

Read moreMonitoring Your System with Resource Monitor

Can I replace my processor with a faster one?

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I have a Lenovo Tabletop C series with 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. I love it all except the speed of the processor. How hard is it to replace the processor with a faster one?

To be perfectly honest, it’s rare to replace a CPU simply, much less replace it with one of a higher speed.

Speed is typically tied to the motherboard. Even when you can replace the CPU (and we’ll talk about a couple of scenarios where that can happen), the motherboard determines the speed. It’s the motherboard that is most often the limiting factor.

As for speed, let’s look at what you can do about that.

Read moreCan I replace my processor with a faster one?

Why is my computer’s fan coming on?

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My computer fan kicks in for no reason. It never did this before, but it does now. I know that a dirty computer fan could cause overheating, but I checked and blew out the fan with compressed air. Nothing came out. What could be the problem?

The problem is still heat related. The question then becomes: where’s that heat coming from?

Read moreWhy is my computer’s fan coming on?

Why Is AVG Telling Me IE Has High Memory Usage?

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I have the free version of AVG anti-virus 2013. And I keep getting this error: “AVG has detected high memory usage by Internet Explorer 8”. When that comes up, my computer slows way down. I do not have any add-ons and I’ve taken just about everything I don’t need off of my computer, but I am still getting this error. I have Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 3.

High-memory usage can be related to a couple of things. I’ll discuss four things that might be causing this, but first, I want to talk about an assumption that I think you’re making here.

Read moreWhy Is AVG Telling Me IE Has High Memory Usage?

Will a new computer burn DVDs faster?

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Will a new computer be a lot faster at making a homemade single-layered DVD? Today, it took five hours for DVD Flick to process the memory already stored on my computer. The video is in mp4 format; the DVD-R was a 4X single layer.

When you’re burning a CD or DVD, the computer isn’t typically the weakest link; it’s the CD/DVD burner. When they write, CD/DVD burners operate at some maximum speed of rotation and how quickly a burner spins depends on its hardware and how fast it can write the data to that disc.

But I think something else might be going on here. You mentioned that your original video is in MP4 format. That’s not a format that is written to DVD.

Read moreWill a new computer burn DVDs faster?

Why Is My Fan Running at High Speed?

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Hi, Leo. I’m using a Compaq 615 laptop with Windows 7. Why is my laptop fan running at high speed? It slows down a bit and then it starts running again at high speed. What can I do to stop it?

Sounds to me like you have a computer that’s running fairly hot.

Most computers have a temperature sensor and a variable-speed fan. As your machine runs, it keeps an eye on how warm it is and decides at what speed to run the fan.

It sounds like your machine is getting hot quickly and tries to cool itself off by running the fan at full speed. That cools it down somewhat so the fan can be slowed down, but then it heats up again and it’s full speed (fan) ahead!

The real question here isn’t why your fan runs so much, but why is your computer getting so hot? There are several reasons why this might be happening.

Read moreWhy Is My Fan Running at High Speed?

How Do I Fix this High CPU Usage Svchost Virus or Whatever It Is?

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After I log in, my system slows to a crawl. Looking at task manager I see that my computer is experiencing high CPU usage. Looking more closely I see that something called “svchost” is taking 100% of my CPU time. If I kill the process suddenly other things stop working. Is svchost a virus? How do I fix this svchost problem?

That’s actually a composite question based on several reports I’ve been getting recently.

Svchost is not a virus. In fact it’s a required system component. You’ll often find  several copies of svchost running.

Svchost, or more correctly “Service Host”, is a program that is designed to run other programs and “hosts” many of the system services in Windows XP. Several copies of Svchost run more than one service, which is why when you kill an instance of svchost several things on your machine might stop working.

So why is one of the Svchosts taking all your CPU?

And what can you do about it?

Read moreHow Do I Fix this High CPU Usage Svchost Virus or Whatever It Is?

“(Not Responding)” – What does it mean, and what do I do about it?

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I am using windows XP PRO, and I am having difficulty when I am browsing or using a program. After a few minutes the computer freezes and I get a message in parenthesis saying (not responding). Sometimes I have to log off and log-on again to fix this problem. But after a few minutes it happens again. How can I fix this?

“Not Responding” appears in the title bar of a running program when Windows detects that the program isn’t behaving properly. Exactly why depends on the specific program and what you were doing at the time.

Let’s look at some of the possibilities which range from actual software or hardware problems, to user impatience.

Read more“(Not Responding)” – What does it mean, and what do I do about it?