Written by Will Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org for Fast Forward Technologies
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
System Information: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. Version 2002, Service Pack 3.
I tried to Google for a solution but only find a few other people who apparently have the same problem, for example see this thread at Cyrus' Blather. Within that thread they point at the hotfix described here. The description of that hotfix starts by saying "when you start help" and only states that it applies to Microsoft Windows XP Professional and further states that this problem was corrected in SP2. This does not appear to address the issue I'm having. If this description is supposed to address this bug, then it should state that helpsvc.exe sometimes starts on its own, also it should state that it applies to Home Edition.
This article at answersthatwork states that helpsvc.exe will launch itself if you have Automatic Updates turned on or are running Windows Update but also when it wants to update the "Did you know" headlines. It's possible I suppose that during Windows Update it might "get stuck" if it's trying repeatedly to get some kind of remote response and not getting it.
That idea seems to be confirmed, by a user-response that "I unplugged the Network Card and it went to 100% CPU usage." That sort of response indicates to me that something is programmed to "keep trying over and over to get a remote response." Hopefully, if that really is the issue, Microsoft will get a clue stick and whack the programmers to ensure that any update process is limited to say 10 or 20 percent of the CPU at most. There they give a solution that involves modifying a registry key. That seems a little over-the-top for most readers to be able to handle.
Another solution might be to disable the Help and Support Center by doing run > msconfig and then under the Services tab you can disable it. I'm not quite sure yet how this affect Automatic Updates, and I'm not really sure if this will solve the issue or not. So we're still in test mode on this one folks! Let me know if you know.
This thread at techguy.org seems to give a reasonable solution:
To do this do:
Start> Run> type: services.msc then OK.
Scroll down to Help and Support and double click it.
In the Startup type: on the dropdown, select manual or disable. If set to manual, on the Service status: select the Stop button. Then Apply and OK.
Update: Either my disabling the Help and Support Center fixed the problem or Microsoft did it after reading my articles. Either way, my problem is gone and has never returned!