Do your computer fans frequently hit top speeds, does your computer slow down, and did you notice that your CPU usage reaches 100%? That’s annoying, especially if you’re not actually doing anything.
Generally, you can avoid maxing out your CPU by staying away from demanding apps. Sometimes, however, a bug can cause CPU usage to spin out of control, such as the infamous WmiPrvSE.exe. In most cases, you can easily fix the underlying issue and lower high CPU usage, and we’ll show you how.
What Is the CPU?
The CPU (central processing unit), also known as the processor, is your computer’s brain. It manages all active processes. Like your own noggin, it can become overwhelmed if bombarded with too many processes or if a single task consumes undue attention. Just as you may find it difficult to focus when feeling overwhelmed, your processor can slow to a crawl if too much is asked of it at once.
Now let’s see what’s throwing your CPU off.
Is the WMI Provider Host (WmiPrvSE.EXE) Causing High CPU Usage?
The WMI Provider Host process, also known as Windows Management Instrumentation or WmiPrvSE.exe, is part of Windows and assists organizations in monitoring and troubleshooting a large number of systems on a network. It’s not uncommon for the process to go out of control, however.
You can tell if this is your problem by opening the Task Manager (press Control + Shift + ESC) and looking for the WmiPrvSE.exe process. If its CPU usage is higher than a few percent, and you’re not running any program that would impact it, it’s not functioning properly.
Restart the WMI Provider Host to Fix High CPU Usage
Microsoft recently pulled its official fix. The only option you’re left with now is manually restarting the service.
- Press Windows key + S, input Services, and press Enter.
- In the window that opens, look for Windows Management Instrumentation.
- Right-click it, then select Restart. You can also stop the service entirely, if you desire, or simply restart your computer.
Identify Persistent WMI Provider Host Issues Using the Event Viewer
If the issue with WmiPrvSE.exe keeps returning, use the Windows Event Viewer to identify its cause. It could be another system process that keeps the WMI provider host busy, thereby causing high CPU usage.
- In Windows 10 and 8, right-click the Start button and select Event Viewer.
- In Windows 7, use the Start menu to find and launch Eventvwr.msc.
Inside the Event Viewer app, go to Applications and Service Logs > Microsoft > Windows > WMI-Activity > Operational.
Now scroll through the list of operational events and find recent Error entries.
For each Error, identify the ClientProcessId. Note that every time you restart a process, its ID will change, hence there’s no point in checking older errors.
If you suspect that one of these processes is causing the high CPU usage, you can use its ID to find it in the Task Manager and identify the faulty process.
Open the Task Manager (press Control + Shift + ESC), switch to the Services tab, and sort all running services by PID, i.e., their process ID. If the guilty process is still running, you’ll be able to identify it and investigate further.
Right-click the process and select Open File Location to review the software it belongs to. Updating or uninstalling the respective program may fix the WMI Provider Host’s high CPU usage.
Finally, there’s a possibility that the service could be a worm or virus. You should see only one version of the process at any given time, and the process should stop if you halt it through the Services window. If you see two versions of it, or the process will not stop, run a virus scan immediately.
Does the System Idle Process Exhibit High CPU Usage?
Windows users occasionally run across a process called the System Idle Process causing high CPU usage. This obscure process seems to hog all the CPU power it possibly can – terrible, right?
Actually, the System Idle Process is simply a thread that consumes CPU cycles, which are not otherwise being used. Instead, the process is used because of some very arcane peculiarities in coding, making it sometimes preferable and even more efficient for a processor to run something instead of nothing.
This is not just a Windows thing, but Windows displays the process in the Task Manager, so users see it and assume something is wrong.
This is not to say you can’t experience performance issues when the System Idle Process shows a high CPU usage load, but the issue lies elsewhere.
In fact, you should expect to see the System Idle Process report that it consumes 95% (or more) of your CPU when Windows is idling. If it’s not, something else is consuming processor cycles without your knowledge.
Is the Svchost.exe (netscvs) to Blame for High CPU Usage?
You might have noticed that the svchost.exe (netscvs) process is causing high memory or CPU usage if you checked the Task Manager. While this process is sometimes associated with malware, it’s primarily a legitimate and system-critical Windows process. If you’re unsure, use the svchost.exe Lookup Tool to see which service the process refers to.
Disable Network Discovery
If it’s not malware, svchost.exe might be busy scanning for plug-and-play devices.
To exclude this cause:
- In the Start menu search bar, input Control Panel and select the Best match.
- Head to Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center, and click Change advanced sharing settings.
- Here, select Turn off network discovery.
Check Windows Update
Svchost.exe (netsvcs) also shows high CPU usage when Windows is downloading updates. You’ll commonly see it using 25% or more CPU capacity after you just installed Windows. In that case, just let Windows Update finish its thing.
Since Windows 10, you can’t easily delay or pause Windows Update. While you can schedule when to install new updates, Windows downloads updates as needed. This may randomly cause svchost.exe to increase its CPU usage. What you can change, however, is whether your computer shares downloaded updates with peers. Turn this off to conserve bandwidth and processing power.
Head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, click Advanced options, then click Delivery Optimization. Here you can Allow downloads from other PCs, but you’ll want this set to Off.
From Delivery Optimization, click Advanced options once more. In this next screen, you can limit the bandwidth of downloads or uploads of Windows and app updates. You should set the download limit to a minimum of 5% and also set the monthly upload limit very low, in case you did permit downloads from other PCs.
The only other workaround to tame high CPU usage related to downloading updates is to temporarily disable Windows Update. This will prevent Windows from downloading updates. However, we don’t recommend this solution!
Are Too Many Background Processes Hogging Your CPU?
A background process is a program that’s running on your PC, even though it’s not open in a window. A typical computer will have many background processes running simultaneously, as Windows itself requires some to run. But as you install programs over the years, you may collect more and more and eventually overwhelm your PC.
Press Windows key + X, then select Task Manager from the list. The Processes tab will appear by default, displaying not only overall CPU usage but also the usage of each app.
You should do this while no other programs are open to prevent confusion. Note the processes that appear to use at least 10% of your processor’s capability regularly.
In Windows 10, head over to the Startup tab within the Task Manager.
In Windows 7, exit Task Manager and open msconfig.exe via Windows Search or the Run dialog (Windows key + R). In the System Configuration window, head to the Startup tab.
Now find startup items correlated with the items that you noted. Uncheck them, click okay, and then restart your PC. This will stop those programs from launching at boot.
It Could Be an Annoying Antivirus
Do you notice that your computer becomes slow at seemingly random times, and those times often correlate with high disk activity? Your problem could be your antivirus.
When actively searching your disk for a threat, an antivirus program can create a surprising amount of processor load. This usually isn’t enough to cause lag on a modern desktop or high-end laptop, but older or underpowered systems may noticeably slow under the strain.
Fixing this is easy. Virtually all anti-virus apps come with a scheduling function that lets you adjust when it automatically scans. Change the schedule to a time when you’re not using the laptop, and you’ll no longer be bothered.
High CPU Usage Is Caused by Malware
Malware can cause high CPU usage, too. A system that’s infected may run processes in the background, and it may attempt to spread itself by sending malware to others via your email, your network, or other sources. All of this requires processing power, which can translate to poor performance.
Confirming an infection manually is not easy, and for the layman is more guesswork than anything else. If you don’t have an anti-virus, download a free malware application and run it. In fact, you may want to try several anti-malware tools because malware that’s already installed has the advantage; it may be able to hide from any single anti-virus app.
Once you’ve found the problem, you can remove it with the anti-virus app you used to scan. If that fails, read our malware removal guide; the tips there can help you exorcise whatever has possessed your PC.
High CPU Usage Could Be Anything
High CPU usage can be hard to track down. While the problems listed here are among the most common causes, you may find that CPU usage is still an issue even after trying everything suggested above. If this problem still plagues you, find a Windows support forum where you can ask users for advice about dealing with your particular situation.
But first, here’s one last culprit you could check: high CPU usage caused by system interrupts!
Your computer suffers from high CPU usage and the process that hogs most resources is “system interrupts”? We will help you get to the bottom of this!
About The Author