Task Manager Idle Process plus %CPU totals > 140%



PC sluggish even after running Norton 360. Task Manager shows over 90% System
Idle Process AND %CPU Usage at bottom of dialog at 50% at the same time! I
believe the %CPU number because other applications send it to 100% and
everything crawls, (and %Idle still showing 80-90% Idle!) No other processes
listed in Task Manager consuming over 1-2%, perfmon shows same stats.

Any ideas?

Leonard Grey

In the following order:

1. More realistic expectations.
2. Learn how to correctly interpret Task Manager.
3. Time to upgrade or replace hardware.


Tyler said:
PC sluggish even after running Norton 360.

The problem with Norton 360 is that it never really stops running; it is
quite a resource hog and has been known to bring many a system to a
Task Manager shows over
90% System Idle Process

In mine, the figure for System Idle Process (which is not really a
process, anyway) is 99% (when relatively idle, of course). The higher
the better. That means (if accurate) that all other processes *combined*
total 1% of CPU usage. For those who want to stress test their CPUs,
there is a good program called Prime 95, which will use about 99% of the
CPU. Surprisingly, you may still perform other tasks without necessarily
noticing any hit in performance. Norton's software is problematic; you
really should ditch it.
AND %CPU Usage at bottom of dialog at 50% at
the same time! I believe the %CPU number because other applications
send it to 100% and everything crawls, (and %Idle still showing
80-90% Idle!) No other processes listed in Task Manager consuming
over 1-2%, perfmon shows same stats.

Like I said, you could run a program like Prime 95 to intentionally
"send it to 100%" but you still might not notice any difference in
performance. You need to identify poorly written programs and totally
uninstall them.

Physically disconnect from the Internet and configure a Clean Boot:


How is your performance now? Open Task Manager. What do you see?

Gradually bring back certain programs until you find out which one(s)
is/are the resource hog(s).

Instead of Task Manager, you could always use Process Explorer, which is
far more detailed:


Assuming you decide to uninstall Norton, you might wind up needing to
use their special removal tool:


Decent and free alternatives are AVG, Avast, and Avira Antivir. You
should also run other antimalware programs. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
and SUPERAntiSpyware are both very good (and there are free versions

Standard boilerplate follows:

Here are the typical causes of sluggishness:

1. Malicious software (malware). You need to rule this out first! This
page has excellent information:


2. Certain programs that are designed to combat malware (e.g., Norton
and McAfee). Ironically, they can slow things down because they simply
use way too many resources. Sometime they cause conflicts with other
programs. And their default mode is to scan your entire hard drive each
time you boot up. Fortunately, there are other antimalware programs
available that use far fewer resources (e.g., NOD32, Avast, and Avira).

3. Too many of certain types of programs always running in the
background -- with or without your knowledge.

Use these sites to determine what these programs are and to learn how to
configure them not to always run at startup:


Sometimes it is recommended to use msconfig to configure the programs to
not run at startup. A better, more thorough program is Autoruns:


But before you do this, you should use the preference settings of the
program in question. Otherwise, for some programs, they will return to
the startup list anyway!

4. Not enough RAM, which causes the PC to overly rely on the pagefile. A
quick way to determine if this is happening is to open Task Manager
(Ctrl+Alt+Del) and click the Performance tab. Then note the three values
under Commit Charge (K): in the lower left-hand corner: Total, Limit,
and Peak.

The Total figure represents the amount of memory you are using at that
very moment. The Peak figure represents the highest amount of memory you
used since last bootup. If both these figures are below the value of
Physical Memory (K) Total, then you probably have plenty of RAM.
In case you want to explore this further, you may run Page File Monitor
for Windows XP:


5. You might also want to check that your hard drive's access mode
didn't change from DMA to PIO:






Are we discussing a home computer?

Norton 360 is reputed to be the worst resource hog of all Norton

What is the CPU and how much RAM does the computer have? Right click on
the My Computer icon on the Desktop and select Properties to get this

Try Ctrl+Alt+Delete to select Task Manager and click the Performance
Tab. Under Commit Charge what is the Total, the Limit and the Peak?

When does your Norton 360 subscription expire? There are many freeware
alternatives available to home users not coming with the resource
demands incumbent with using Norton 360.


Hope this helps.

Stourport, England
Enquire, plan and execute


Daave -
Thanks very much for starting me on correct path! Process Explorer revealed
Deferred Procedue Calls and Interrupt Service Requests as the CPU hogs.
Further digging provided tracelog.exe, (from XP Support tools:


Hi Daave,
Thanks a million for valuable info! First used Process Explorer from:

This showed Deferred Procedure Calls and Interrupt Service Requests as the
CPU hogs, (not shown in Task Manager).

Then found tracelog.exe in XP Support Tools:


Then found how to use tracelog in Windows SysInternals at:

Page 107 has instructions:

tracelog -start -f kernel.etl -b 64 -UsePerfCounter -eflag 8 0x307 0x4084 0
0 0 0 0 0

tracelog -stop

tracerpt kernel.etl -df -o -report

These commands provided this info, (in workload.txt)
| DPC processor utilization for the whole trace

| Processor Utilization Module
| 0 7.72% ndis.sys
F744B613 |
| 0 0.19% videoprt.sys
F6FFA17C |
| 0 0.19% ntoskrnl.exe
804DC2CD |
| 0 0.09% usbport.sys
F6FF0FC2 |

....plus more. The ISR component was highest for ndis.sys also.

Next step is to figure out how to update the ndis.sys to reduce it, and wait
for occurence of 60% DPC/ISR hits to get better analysis of trouble spots.

A bit of digging - but looks promising!

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