Task Manager Processes
As you can see in the second image, the CPU Usage is listed at the bottom of the window. Selecting the Processes tab will give you more of an idea of what is going on. These columns can be sorted by clicking the column headers. Clicking on CPU will sort the list by the most demanding application. This is ideal if we want to learn what keeps sending the CPU to 100%.
The process you want to always see at the top is the Windows Idle Process.This is an internal Windows program that keeps the processor running to enable energy saving technologies like Speedstep and to prevent the processor from locking out.
Monitor the Task Manager for a little while and watch when it gets to 100%. Check the Processes column to see who the culprit is and check it out. If it’s something you recognize like a video player or torrent client then you know the PC is simply being overburdened.
If it’s a different program, it may be worth ending the process to see if the problem goes away (just be careful not to end an important system process.You can always check what the process is first by searching for it online). Highlight the process and click the End Process box in the bottom right corner. If the CPU usage goes down then you know that the program was either doing too much, got caught in a loop or has coding issues. Restarting the program again and seeing what happens is the best way to determine the cause. If the problem reoccurs then it is a problem with the program or configuration on your system. If the problem doesn't reoccur, then it just got itself caught up and is working properly now.
The last reason for high CPU utilization is a virus. These don’t always show up in Task Manager, so if nothing shows, run a virus scan on your machine. If you have the software, run a deep level scan on reboot to check the Windows system files before they’re loaded. Many anti-virus programs come with the option to create a boot disc which will enable it to run before Windows is loaded. This is the best way of making absolutely sure your system is clean.
A processor running at 100% isn’t necessarily going to do any damage, but finding out the cause is a good precaution. If you want to know more about analyzing your system check out “How to Run Diagnostics on a Computer."