Part 1: Introduction - What's using my CPU?

Recently, I have been involved in attempting to diagnose problems with excessive CPU utilization. Often times, this type of thing is relatively easy to identify - at least as far as pointing the finger at the thing that is consuming CPU cycles. Task Manager can be used for this - simply sort the "CPU" column in descending order and note the process that is at the top of the list. One can use a similar technique with Process Explorer.

In the past (here and here), I've given examples that demonstrate various techniques that can be used to try to determine what a process is doing when it is consuming so much CPU. Sometimes, you can do something about it - if you have the debugging symbols, perhaps there is something in the stack of the thread or threads in the process that is consuming the CPU that will lead you to some setting, feature, or configuration piece that can be manipulated so as to avoid the problem. Or perhaps just knowing the module name is enough information to identify the problem software - a recently installed add-in / plug-in, or a new utility, perhaps. Sometimes you are forced to work around the problem - you don't have any control over it and don't want to stop using the program, or have no choice but to keep using the program.

But what happens when the excessive CPU utilization is not attributable to a "standard" process? In the coming series of articles, I hope to explore some of the things that can be done to diagnose and troubleshoot this type of scenario. Stay tuned...


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