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I have a Windows XP machine that is used as a music player in the house. It is relatively old and has a single core. Periodically the music will stutter and reviewing the task manager shows a short spike in CPU usage up to 100%. I have some ideas of what could be causing the spike but no way of being certain, since once it has happened the offending process lies dormant once more.

Does any utility exist that could 'record' the usage for that moment so I could finally find out for sure what caused it?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Try Mark Russinovich's Process Explorer, easily available via Google search; its CPU activity graph displays the high-scoring process's executable name when you mouse over it, so if it's running when the offending process does its thing, you can mouse over the spike on the graph and see what's at fault.

In more general terms, Process Explorer can replace the standard Windows task manager, and is a much more capable tool; I strongly recommend it.

Edited to add a link to Process Explorer, which is much easier on a PC than on a phone.

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Thanks Aaron, I have used ProcessExplorer before, just didn't know it could do that too! –  J Collins Oct 8 '12 at 17:13
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