[SOLVED] Fresh Win 10 pro ,but CPU activity at 5-20% unless I CTRL+ALT+DELETE ?

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Jul 5, 2021
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Hi all ,

This is really strange , I have messed around with PC's for a few years and have never come across an issue quite like this , I have done plenty of " Googling " to try and find an answer but have got to the point where I am going around in circles , so now I need some help from a kind geek :)

It's my other half's Laptop that was originally Win 7 Home , Packard Bell TK85 with Intel HD graphics , Intel 2.4 Ghz Dual core , 6 GB RAM , WD 640 GB 5.4K drive .

Here is a quick description of what I started with to where I am :

I had WIN 10 pro from Microsoft on USB key ( 1804 ... I know early version but I have 80 MB Internet so to download the updates and apply is quick ) , got a new Win 10 pro key , used a Live Ubuntu CD to completely wipe the drive and format , removing ALL partitions , then loaded Win 10 pro and activated fine with key .

All seemed good BUT when it took the 20H1 update we got this strange EXPLORER activity in the background that seems to make everything lag , it varies fron 5-25% if I look at it in Task Manager , tried leaving it over night to see if it would eventually correct itself , tried running a SCAN with Defender , tried a sfc/scannow , tried chkdsk/r , still happens ?

Then it offered the 20H2 update so in a hope it may have something to correct the issue I took the update still the same , after many hours of Google and trying lots of suggested tweeks I gave up and used the feature in Win 10 that allows RECOVERY / RESET THIS PC , chose to not keep any user files or programs and download a fresh install from the CLOUD ,
it wiped the Windows partition and loaded Win 10 20H2 fine , but still the strange lag !!

OK so most would now say Win 10 doesn't like your PC as its too old BUT WAIT :)

This I discovered by accident : If I simply press CTRL+ALT+DELETE then CANCEL and choose NOT to go into Task Manager or other things on menu , ALL activity stops !! The PC runs fine CPU activity down to 1-2 % , until I restart then I have to do same trick again to stop activity . Previously I had right clicked task bar and opened Task Manager to see what was active ( I discovered this on the previous build , this is why I gave up and reinstalled fresh copy )

So in conclusion we have a fresh install of Win 10 pro 20H2 (19042.1081 ) , activated and a virgin install with nothing added , EGDE was opened to finish its install and I clicked on eBay to see if it would load web pages ok , that is first and last time its been online ( other than updates )

Device manager is happy ( no driver issues ) and it has recognised all hardware correctly , Intel HD graphics are on newest available driver 8.15.10.9000 .

I have disabled Cortana via COMPONENT SERVICES ( gpedit ) as many suggest this can causes issues on old machines
and as she will never use Cortana , decided it wouldn't be an issue.

So how do I find what is causing this activity that disappears if I use CTRL+ALT+DELETE and then CANCEL ?

It's more of a Internet Browser / You Tube and social media thing for her , not as though she is gonna run Adobe Photoshop or CAD 3D , it's runs super cool now I have blown out fan housing etc , I just can't bring myself to bin it as it's such a clean machine that does do exactly what she needs , when activity is stopped !

Maybe I could cheat with a .bat file or something after boot up that applies CTRL+ALT+DELETE then cancels but doesn't show on screen ? anybody know if that's achievable easily ?
 
Last edited:

revodo

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Jun 10, 2021
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Does it actually slow the system down? Windows does stuff in the background and then suspends it if the user starts interacting with the system.

It could just be a bug that will be patched in the next release as well.
 
Jul 5, 2021
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Yes permanently it does not suspend , until I use CTRL+ALT+DELETE then cancel menu choices , it then reverts to being fine , until the next reboot ?

It drastically affects performance and makes whole PC lag by seconds at a time !

It even lags the START menu so sometimes it can't even get to RESTART , without the CTRL+ALT+DELETE trick its pretty unusable TBH.

I don't understand why CTRL+ALT+DELETE can affect it when I don't even use it I can just cancel out of it and activity instantly disappears ?

I would love to see what it actually is , even if I can't fix it , as apart from this issue when I have applied the trick it zips around the Internet and You Tube just fine till a reboot.
 
Last edited:

revodo

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Jun 10, 2021
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Honestly, control + alt + delete does some whacky stuff in the background. I've had a system come to a grinding halt before, and that instantly fixes it. Couldn't tell you why, other than it probably suspends a lot of things to ensure it works. Basically an in-place safe mode of sorts.

Speaking of safe mode, try booting into that, and see if the problem persists.
 

Bob.B

Commendable
Feb 8, 2021
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Hi all ,

This is really strange , I have messed around with PC's for a few years and have never come across an issue quite like this , I have done plenty of " Googling " to try and find an answer but have got to the point where I am going around in circles , so now I need some help from a kind geek :)

It's my other half's Laptop that was originally Win 7 Home , Packard Bell TK85 with Intel HD graphics , Intel 2.4 Ghz Dual core , 4 GB RAM , WD 640 GB 5.4K drive .

Here is a quick description of what I started with to where I am :

I had WIN 10 pro from Microsoft on USB key ( 1804 ... I know early version but I have 80 MB Internet so to download the updates and apply is quick ) , got a new Win 10 pro key , used a Live Ubuntu CD to completely wipe the drive and format , removing ALL partitions , then loaded Win 10 pro and activated fine with key .

All seemed good BUT when it took the 20H1 update we got this strange EXPLORER activity in the background that seems to make everything lag , it varies fron 5-25% if I look at it in Task Manager , tried leaving it over night to see if it would eventually correct itself , tried running a SCAN with Defender , tried a sfc/scannow , tried chkdsk/r , still happens ?

Then it offered the 20H2 update so in a hope it may have something to correct the issue I took the update still the same , after many hours of Google and trying lots of suggested tweeks I gave up and used the feature in Win 10 that allows RECOVERY / RESET THIS PC , chose to not keep any user files or programs and download a fresh install from the CLOUD ,
it wiped the Windows partition and loaded Win 10 20H2 fine , but still the strange lag !!

OK so most would now say Win 10 doesn't like your PC as its too old BUT WAIT :)

This I discovered by accident : If I simply press CTRL+ALT+DELETE then CANCEL and choose NOT to go into Task Manager or other things on menu , ALL activity stops !! The PC runs fine CPU activity down to 1-2 % , until I restart then I have to do same trick again to stop activity . Previously I had right clicked task bar and opened Task Manager to see what was active ( I discovered this on the previous build , this is why I gave up and reinstalled fresh copy )

So in conclusion we have a fresh install of Win 10 pro 20H2 (19042.1081 ) , activated and a virgin install with nothing added , EGDE was opened to finish its install and I clicked on eBay to see if it would load web pages ok , that is first and last time its been online ( other than updates )

Device manager is happy ( no driver issues ) and it has recognised all hardware correctly , Intel HD graphics are on newest available driver 8.15.10.9000 .

I have disabled Cortana via COMPONENT SERVICES ( gpedit ) as many suggest this can causes issues on old machines
and as she will never use Cortana , decided it wouldn't be an issue.

So how do I find what is causing this activity that disappears if I use CTRL+ALT+DELETE and then CANCEL ?

It's more of a Internet Browser / You Tube and social media thing for her , not as though she is gonna run Adobe Photoshop or CAD 3D , it's runs super cool now I have blown out fan housing etc , I just can't bring myself to bin it as it's such a clean machine that does do exactly what she needs , when activity is stopped !

Maybe I could cheat with a .bat file or something after boot up that applies CTRL+ALT+DELETE then cancels but doesn't show on screen ? anybody know if that's achievable easily ?
Just a wag.
Does task manager or the resource monitor give a clue about this activity?
Is indexing enabled?
 
Jul 5, 2021
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Just a wag.
Does task manager or the resource monitor give a clue about this activity?
Is indexing enabled?
Yes I see explorer activity and sometimes 100% disc , never stops CPU activity till I CTRL+ALT+DELETE then its fine , CPU instantly down to 1-2% , till a reboot ?

Doubt its indexing there is nothing to index , its bare with no software .

But I will turn it off now and try :)

Went to front of C drive and turned off indexing , 1 hr later still doing it , so lots of indexing going on , good call ( that surprised me as well ) , lets hope it may do something :) will update here when it finishes .

Unfortunately after 2 hrs it finished , so I rebooted and :( Still happens and CTRL+ALT+DELETE still fixes it ?

I am willing to try anything to fix this , I have an image and I can always do a fresh install again , I just need to know how to stop the weird activity even if it means destroying my working copy to find out .
 
Last edited:

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
does it happen in safe mode?

  1. go to settings/update & security/recovery
  2. under advanced startup, click restart now button
  3. this restarts PC in a blue menu
  4. choose troubleshoot
  5. choose advanced
  6. choose startup options
  7. click the restart button
  8. choose a safe mode (it doesn't matter which) by using number associated with it.
  9. Pc will restart and load safe mode
 
Jul 5, 2021
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does it happen in safe mode?

  1. go to settings/update & security/recovery
  2. under advanced startup, click restart now button
  3. this restarts PC in a blue menu
  4. choose troubleshoot
  5. choose advanced
  6. choose startup options
  7. click the restart button
  8. choose a safe mode (it doesn't matter which) by using number associated with it.
  9. Pc will restart and load safe mode
Yes , I answered this in question 5 above , it seems as though it must be a microsoft service doing this as it does it via CLEAN BOOT or SAFE mode with no networking , CTRL+ALT+DELETE fixes it BUT after leaving it on all night with the fix applied I noticed this morning it had reappeared so the CTRL+ALT+DELETE fix is only temporary it seems and NOT as I thought , as in it only happens after a reboot.
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
Sorry about repeats

try a dism scan and then run sfc after
right click start button
choose powershell (admin)
once its completed, copy/paste this command into same window:

Repair-WindowsImage -Online -RestoreHealth and press enter

once its finished, type SFC /scannow and press enter
restart PC after SFC


you could try 21H1 since its latest version - i don't see any mention of it - but i see you have download restrictions

i don't know if it would be any better

do you have the newest bios for laptop?

curious if it happens in ubuntu as well
 
Jul 5, 2021
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but i see you have download restrictions ....... Not sure what you mean here ?

I have tried sfc /scannow and a chkdsk /r both were good on last install , this time I used windows repair and deleted all my files and got it to install a fresh image from the cloud , it does the same laggy stuff , is it worth trying a repair on such a new image ?

BIOS is an issue as I would love to update it but the battery is dead on this so it won't let me and don't want to get a new one if this can't be cured ( Catch 22 I guess ) this is on a BIOS just below the last and tbh it looks like the tweeks in it won't help but you never know.

Its mainly DWM and EXPLORER at 5-15% at the top of the list in Resource Monitor when its laggy.

Now downloading 21H1 to see if it helps.
 
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Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
but i see you have download restrictions ....... Not sure what you mean here ?
well, i was having a good night last night, I misread your line about internet speed and thought you only had 80mb total for month. I realise my stupidity now.

dwm.exe is windows desktop manager. It sits between applications and the GPU driver
Explorer is the odd man out there.

WD 640 GB 5.4K drive
try running this on hdd and check its health?
https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?p=3
i know software says its been replaced but this is an old drive, it might work better than new software.
 
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Jul 5, 2021
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Tried a couple of Hard Drive test tools , they all say its pretty good and tbh she has had it from new and its never really been worked hard or left on doing nothing for hours so I'm not suprised ,but thanks .

So I forced the 21H1 update , it updated fine BUT I've still got the weird laggy drawing up of windows and right click menus not appearing for 5 seconds !

So last night I decided that the only thing left to do was a BIOS update , though the updates in it refer more to Bitlocker and secure boot changes , neither any help for this but they may have sneaked in a video bios update and not mentioned it :) still a pessimist at heart :)

However as the laptop had been left flat for a couple of months the battery was not even being recognised by Windows and simply said " No Battery Present " with a white cross over battery icon is system tray , and the BIOS update would not let me proceed on only power supply I had to have a battery

So I decided to crack the battery pack open and have a look , hoping to find a broken battery link or something , came apart very easily once I had sussed where the little clips were hiding on the assembly , inside were 6 x 18650 lithium cells with good joiners but each cell tested at 0.5v , super discharged !!

As you can't break what is already broken , I unsoldered the 6 tags to the circuit board that was attached to batteries , so as not to damage it and a hope it may reset its memory count for charging ( OEM's are bad for that sneaky trick ) , and took the complete pack , one battery at a time and jabbed it across a 12v power supply for a couple of 5 second jabs and then a 10 second jab , each cell took current , didn't get hot but now tested at 3.2v , gave it an hour and retested cells , all had stayed above 3v , cool , so I resoldered board back onto batteries and reassembled casing , no glue needed the clips worked fine .

I then stuck it in lappy put it on a cooler to keep onboard charging circuit in lappy cooled ,and put power supply in , battery LED now came on as orange , BUT not flashing orange as previously , left it an hour and LED went blue !! Turned lappy on and Windows recognised the battery and said it was fully charged , did a quick test and a couple of reboots on battery power only and 15 mins of utube which in total only took 10% of power so definitely a usable battery , I was happy I could now do my BIOS flash .

BUT WAIT .................................................... The lag has gone , its booting to desktop faster and the 15-20% Baseline on CPU has gone it now boots and drops within 30 seconds to 1-3% CPU , no crazy DWM or EXPLORER activity for hours on end ,fastest its ever been .

In conclusion ALL I have done is fix the battery , I have NOT yet done the BIOS flash , I will but tbh now I want to wait a couple of days to see if it reappears , how on earth could the battery have had any effect , ACPI issues ?

Maybe the power supply isn't really spunky enough for the lappy when no battery is present and needs battery for surges , Win 10 maybe more hungry than Win 7 .

I am stumped , never seen a lappy play those sort of games before , I had it running for a few hours early in the morning and rebooted with RESTART as well as SHUT DOWN restart at least 30/40 times to see if it would fail , not once did it do it again , so it seems fixed , I am loading Office 2010 and watching a video on utube as I speak and she is doing it fine , pretty good for an older PC with an i3 CPU and a 5K4 HD.

Anyone with any ideas how or why I would love to hear your input.

Thanks for the input from you all , it spurred me on to try , I was so much hoping for a " HA HA you forgot to try this " answer from someone , it has been an arduous journey but so happy to have brought it back to life .

So the Packard Bell TK85 , i3 2.4Ghz M370 , 6GB RAM , 5k4 HD with Intel HD graphics is a very useable lappy on Win 10 ,wouldn't like to try CAD but I reckon she'd work photoshop as long as you were gentle :)

I will wait a couple of days before marking as solved , just in case.
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
that is different

I can't find any direct links between exploder usage and battery, I found this where explorer chews batteries - link

I wonder if its something in power options, what plan are you running in?
right click start
choose power options
in next windows under Related settings, click additional power options
what plan are you running?
maybe click on change plan settings and look through, there might be one for low battery
 
Jul 5, 2021
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that is different

I can't find any direct links between exploder usage and battery, I found this where explorer chews batteries - link

I wonder if its something in power options, what plan are you running in?
right click start
choose power options
in next windows under Related settings, click additional power options
what plan are you running?
maybe click on change plan settings and look through, there might be one for low battery
I am running Best Performance plan with SLEEP / HIBERNATE all turned off , closing lid set to do nothing etc , wireless card etc set to not allow windows to turn off to save power , low battery has been set to turn off PC ,so in theory ANY type of Windows battery management should be totally OFF. I have even gone into the PROPERTIES of both Wireless Card and LAN and made sure any Magic Packets or Wake Up via LAN are ALL turned Off .

I know this is crazy , I agree , this has had me messing with it for the last 2 weeks , the most annoying bit is BEFORE all this I made sure Windows 7 worked perfectly and had no issues before cleaning system and loading Win 10.
 
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Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
best performance? High or balanced? One just uses more energy.

laptop should have been giving low battery warnings, maybe that was why explorer usage was so high.

Maybe in a year I will find out the answer via another question.
 
Jul 5, 2021
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Yes , good point regards Windows wanting to warn me that battery was low , however it said no battery present when I hovered over icon in system tray , so one would hope Windows would be configured to deal with a no battery situation ?

Best Performance set to max power usage HIGH ;) as it will nearly always be on power supply , the only other guess I had was ACPI for battery monitoring or charging had got upset and kept going around in circles , or DWM wanting to save power as it was on a weak power supply and it thought battery was low ? as its got to be a Windows service that was causing it , as it happened in safe mode - no networking.

Maybe we will never know , it sure is a strange one , and having done 3 or 4 feature updates on the original build and a completely new image for this build I would've expected at some point Windows to have given up or sent me a warning , even via Event Viewer that it had its Knickers in a twist about low power :D
 

Colif

Win 10 Master
Moderator
windows should have known it was on a laptop, so its odd it didn't show the battery lvl

wonder if it was a bios setting. but laptop bios never show you anything so we may never know for sure.
 
Jul 5, 2021
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windows should have known it was on a laptop, so its odd it didn't show the battery lvl

wonder if it was a bios setting. but laptop bios never show you anything so we may never know for sure.
The Battery level was super low , each cell only had 0.5v when I stripped it down , so maybe it didn't activate the internal circuit on battery pack BUT Windows saw something even though it said battery not present ?

I wish I had tried it without battery in slot ................... hindsight :)
 
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So I have left it a few days using laptop as normal , never has the Explorer/Desktop Windows Manager ever gone into persistent CPU usage , it now boots and within 20 secs happily drops to 1-3% CPU , so the issue was battery not being seen correctly ! It said battery was not connected even though it was , mainly because the internal cells were too flat to energise the charge circuit.

I could not resist doing the BIOS update from 1.24 to 1.3 last night and it was worth doing , the hand over from Windows Basic Driver to the Intel HD graphics driver just after BIOS is now far quicker and smoother , however that BIOS gave me AUDIO issues :( it would boot up at full volume , turned ALL enhancements OFF etc tried adjusting everything and it would always boot and gently scroll up to full volume.

Thankfully Google helped me and there were others with the exact same issues ( Packard Bell and Acer ) it was a case of UNINSTALLING both Intel HD Audio drivers in Device Manager and doing a reboot , both reinstalled and issue was fixed , so the BIOS update did something to update the AUDIO ?

I also loaded Adobe Photoshop CS6 for a laugh to see if she could handle it and tbh it does pretty good considering its only an i3 .

I shall now mark this as SOLVED .
 
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