Maxed out CPU Usage in task manager (SYSTEM: NT Kernal & System) 99%

Hello. really hoping somebody can help me out here as I have had to resort to using my wife's MAC BOOK to just type this!!

I have a Toshiba Laptop:
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
AMD Turion II Ultra Dual-Core Processor M600

Anyways, my CPU started freezing up 3 days ago and I have spent more than enough time (too much time actually) trying to figure out what is going on. I have Nortom 360 and have completed Virus Scans in Normal and Safe Mode.
Now to the issue...I am averaging 70% on the System Monitor found on the Performance Tab of the Task Manager. Culprit...SYSTEM: NT Kernal & System. WTF?

Thanks for your assitance in advance, please help me get off my wife's MAC and back on my own CPU!



Senior Member
Have you tried to uninstall Norton to see what happens? If that's the problem, MS has an excellent AV/AM app. Check out MSE (best of all it's free)

Supposedly Norton has gotten much better as of late, but after the problems I once had with it I do not trust it.

I would also use an app such as MalwareBytes Antimalware or Spybot Search and Destroy or Super Antimalware to check for these nasties as well as your AV app. Just do a search with these names.

Thanks for you poswt. Unofrtunately, I have since uninstalled Norton, ran NPE, MSE, and the MalwareByte Antimalware scans with no hits. Any other suggestions, this is outa control. virus.jpg


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Something like this might be hard to figure out. Since System is a necessary Windows component, you cannot shut it down for testing. It also has around 150 threads, any one of which might be causing the CPU usage. Or something else might be starting a thread you could turn off or suspend.

Maybe the easiest way to start would be to use MSconfig.exe and and do one of two things. First go to the Startup page and check for anything starting up you do not recognize or you don't need and uncheck it.

Another way would be to go to the Services tab and check "hide all Microsoft services" then use the Disable all button do disable all non-Microsoft services. If you notice something interesting there, uncheck just it to test.

If you wanted to try, go the the General tab and Select Startup and check either the Load system services or Load Startup items and see if the problem continues after rebooting. Or you could just try the Diagnostic startup first

Now reboot (cold boots would be best) to see if the problem continues. What we are trying to do is narrow down the possibilities of what might be causing the problem. I notice you have toolbar updater service running. That might be possibility since I don't know what it is. Other things might be some type of indexer or file scanner. Some type of backup utilitity, possibly some type of online backup.

In Resource Monitor, you have the ability to suspend some of the services to test. You could look for things you don't recognize and select suspend, but be ready since doing the wrong one might freeze your system. If you want to take a picture of all of the ones listed so we can see if something is there that we would consider suspicious.

Other things to check, is the hard drive running, is the CPU usage high all the time or can you pick out something that might stop it for a second? Is there internet activity during the time, or if you disconnect from the internet does it change?

Are you overclocking or could the CPU be getting hot?

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Thanks for the assistance Saltgrass, but still no worky-worky yet.

I did the recommended MSONFIG configurations to include:
Did a Diagnostic Start-up (still maxed CPU Usage w/ SYSTEM being the culprit)
Disabled all startup services to include Microsoft services (still maxed CPU Usage w/ SYSTEM being the culprit)
Deleted the toolbar updtater service (still maxed CPU Usage w/ SYSTEM being the culprit)

I took a look at the Resource Monitor again after the Diagnostic Reboot, but there was hardly anything running and yet again, all was being hogged by the SYSTEM: NT Kernal

I would like some assistance in finding out if my "hard drive is running" or "overcocked" (yes, my CPU usage is high all the time once this started nearly a week ago now). Also, it makes no difference if connected to the interned, I disconnected the NIC and rebooted in Safe Mode and yes, same results.

So, How do i check your other questions, is the hard drive running, overclocked or hot CPU?



Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Overclocked you would know about because you would be doing it.

The hard drive can be heard, or an led blinking...

Can you restore your system back before the problem started?

Can you do a repair install of Windows 7 if you can't restore?

There is one program called Process Explorer you can get from this Microsoft site. With it you can check what threads are running under the system heading which might help. But you may not recognize what the threads are from. If you decide to go this way, we can help set it up, but after you download, go to the properties page and unblock the .zip file before you extract.

Since you have checked your system with several anti-virus programs, I suppose that option is no longer viable.

Have you tried running a System File Check. If not, open an administrative command prompt and type SFC /scannow. Maybe it will find a bad file that it can fix. Let us know how that turns out.

To open an Administrative command prompt, hit Winkey and type cmd. Then CTRL+Shift+Enter, or go to Start Menu, Accessories, command prompt and right click for Run as Admin.

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