The Altiris agent is seeing high CPU utilization, at times up to 100 percent. It appears as though the agent hangs in the startup process. After a reboot (not every time, but frequently) the agent CPU Utilization remains high until the service is restarted or AexAgentActivate is executed. At this point the utilization drops to 0 percent and the Agent icon appears in the system tray.
After the computer was rebooted, McAfee ran for 25 minutes at 60–70 percent utilization. Upon a second reboot, the McAfee service ran with normal utilization and the Altiris agent was running with 60–100 percent utilization logging 25 minutes of CPU time in a 57 minute period.
Similar symptoms have been seen with other virus scan programs like Symantec's Norton Antivirus.
At startup the Altiris agent takes 100 percent of CPU usage.
This problem occurs when the process AeXNSAgent.exe starts. This process will consume almost all available CPU resources. In addition to this symptom, sometimes the service controller will not show the agent as started, but rather having a pending operation. Once incurred, this problem will persist indefinitely. Most reports of this issue involved older CPUs such as the PII 400. The issue has been reported as both a consistent and/or an intermittent problem.
Important Note: The solutions provided below should only be used in conjunction with Notification Server 5.5 servers running the 6.0 Agent. The Application Metering agent provided in this article is not valid for the 5.x client. If you are using Notification Server 6.0, follow the link below for the appropriate solution.
This issue should not be confused with an Agent which is performing tasks which have applied to the Agent such inventory policies.
A very similar issue has also been reported which involves an interaction between the Notification Server 6.0 agent and the Application Metering 5.0 agent. The main difference is that in this case, the height CPU utilization drops back to normal after 10–15 minutes.
Both issues are addressed in this article.
Several causes have been seen.
Deadlocks between Virus scanner and the Altiris agent.
The cause is a timing issue between the Notification Server 6.0 Agent and real time virus protection during startup.
Network Resource timing issue.
A conflict with the MCAfee Real-time Virus Scan and the Altiris Agent.
It appears that there are two issues occurring.
There is Network Resource timing issues where, on the startup of a slow, very busy computer, the CPU may go into high utilization as the agent attempts to access network resources. Build 1005 version or later of the Altiris Agent was developed that will help eliminate the high utilization.
A conflict does exist with the Altiris Agent and McAfee Real-time Scan at startup. The McAfee icon and/or the Altiris Agent icon do not appear in the Systray.
From build 1006 version of the Altiris Agent a change was made to the agent to provide a delay at boot time of 10 seconds. The actual delay can be configured using the registry (see article 1988).
If the Altiris Agent folder is excluded from the Real-time scan, the problem does not occur. Actually if only AexAgentActivate.exe and AexNSAgent.exe are added to the exclusions list, the problem disappears. This has also helped with other virus programs.
This issue has been seen in the following environments but may be in others as well.