100% CPU Usage unexplained



My Windows XP Home Edition system sometimes gets VERY sluggish. The Task
Manager shows the CPU Usage at 100%. No disk activity. No CPU intensive
tasks running that should take anywhere NEAR that much processing power!
(Usually just Outlook 2003 is running.)

Looking at the list of processes, I found a suspicious looking process
called " wowexec.exe". Note the leading space in the name. It is the only
process with a leading space and the only process showing no memory usage.
Not zero, but the mem usage column for that process is blank.

So I terminated the process and the CPU Usage dropped to single digits over
the next couple of seconds. I searched for info on wowexec.com and it looks
like it's a Windows XP component for launching 16 bit apps.

Any idea if wowexec.exe is really the culprit? Any other suggestions?

Wesley Vogel

called " wowexec.exe". Note the leading space in the name.


[[To determine if any 16-bit programs are currently running, and identify
any that are:

1. Start Task Manager. To do so, right-click a blank spot on the taskbar,
and click Task Manager.
2. On the Processes tab, note the contents of the Image Name column.
3. If any 16-bit programs are running, you see an entry for Ntvdm.exe, which
is the virtual DOS machine that is provided by Windows XP. You also see
wowexec.exe (the Windows on Windows subsystem), and the executable name of
each 16-bit program that is running in that WOW virtual machine. As a
helpful visual aid, wowexec.exe and the 16-bit executable file names are
indented. ]]
HOW TO Identify a 16-bit Program in Windows XP

If your are not knowingly running any 16-bit applications...

Update your antivirus software and run a full system scan.

Update whatever anti-spyware applications that you have and run a full
system scan with each one.

You might need to start in Safe Mode to run your antivirus and anti-spyware

Running a full system antivirus scan or anti-spyware scan in Safe Mode can
be a good idea. Some viruses and other malware like to conceal themselves
in areas Windows protects while using them. Safe mode will prevent those
applications access and therefore unprotect the viruses or other malware
allowing for easier removal.

How to start Windows in Safe Mode Windows XP

Hope this helps. Let us know.

MS-MVP Windows Shell/User


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