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If your computer fans frequently hit top speeds, it’s a sign that your CPU is fully loaded. Simultaneously, your computer may slow down. That’s annoying, especially if you’re not actually doing anything.

The CPU (central processing unit), also known as processor, is the brain of your computer. 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 work difficult when overwhelmed, your processor can slow to a crawl if too much is asked of it at once.

Normally, this situation can be avoided by staying away from demanding apps, but CPU usage can sometimes go out of control because of a bug in a process, such as the infamous WmiPrvSE.exe. Fortunately, high CPU usage is usually easy to fix.

WmiPrvSE.exe

This process, which has the full name of Windows Management Instrumentation, 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 Process Explorer - The Most Powerful Task Manager Replacement [Windows] Process Explorer - The Most Powerful Task Manager Replacement [Windows] Let’s be honest, the Windows Task Manager isn’t that great for understanding and managing the processes running on your computer. Even on Windows 8, where it’s much-improved, the task manager can’t come close to the... Read More 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.

windowsmangementinstrumentation

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Microsoft has an official fix that will stop the problem for most users. If that fix doesn’t work, or you can’t download it, you can try manually restarting the service. Do a Windows Search for Services and, 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.

Finally, there’s a possibly that the service could be a worm or virus What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] Some people call any type of malicious software a "computer virus," but that isn't accurate. Viruses, worms, and trojans are different types of malicious software with different behaviors. In particular, they spread themselves in very... Read More . 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 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More immediately.

System Idle Process

Windows users occasionally run across high utilization by something called System Idle Process. This obscure process seems to hog all the CPU power it possibly can – terrible, right?

systemidleprocess

Actually, this process is simply a thread that consumes processor cycles, which are not otherwise being used. The process is used because of some very arcane peculiarities in coding, which make it sometimes preferable, and even more efficient, for a processor to run something instead of nothing at all. This is not just a Windows thing, but Windows displays the process in 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 is showing high “load,” but the issue lies elsewhere. In fact, you should expect to see this process report that it consumes 95% (or more) of your processor when your PC is at idle. If it’s not, something else is consuming processor cycles without your knowledge.

Too Many Background Processes

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 at once, 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.

msconfig

You can check on this by opening Task Manager via a Windows Search for the same or by running taskmgr.exe. 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 which appear to be using at least 10% of your processor’s capability on a regular basis.

Now, exit Task Manager and open msconfig.exe How To Make Windows Boot Faster Than Ever Before How To Make Windows Boot Faster Than Ever Before One… two… three… how many minutes does it take your computer to start up? Hopefully not more than three, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you said it surpassed that time. The thing is, our... Read More via Windows Search or the Run dialog. Go to the Startup tab and find startup items How To Make Windows Boot Faster Than Ever Before How To Make Windows Boot Faster Than Ever Before One… two… three… how many minutes does it take your computer to start up? Hopefully not more than three, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you said it surpassed that time. The thing is, our... Read More 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 Anti-virus

avirascan

Do you notice that your computer becomes slow at seemingly random times, and those times often correlate with high disk activity? Then your problem is probably your anti-virus!

An anti-virus program, when actively searching your disk for a threat, can consume a surprising amount of processor load. This usually isn’t enough to slow a modern desktop or high-end laptop, but older or slower 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.

Or It Could Be A Virus

On the other hand, malware could be the source of your issue. A system that’s infected may run processes in the background, or 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.

virus-detection

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 itself 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 Is A Diverse Issue

High CPU usage can be hard to track down. While the problems listed here are among the most common causes, but you may find that CPU usage is still an issue even after your try everything suggested above. If this problem still plagues you, head over to MakeUseOf Answers, where you can ask other readers for advice about how to deal with your particular situation.

Have you found another issue that caused high CPU usage and could you solve it? Please share in the comments!

  1. Anand
    December 1, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Thank you. It resolved all the problem

  2. Jamie
    November 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    So yeah all this page did for me was make my CPU run at 100%

  3. changappa
    November 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    disable adobe flash player plugins for fire fox etc. it worked on my xp sp3.

  4. JamesL63
    October 28, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Running Windows 7 Home Premium I opened the Task Manager, clicked on the Resource Monitor and found svchost,exe (netsevs) using 95% of the CPU. Stopping this brought the CPU down to 7%. However on rebooting the svchost.exe (netsevs) restarted.
    After disabling svchost.exe (netsevs) again TrustedInstaller.exe used 75% of the CPU. After disabling it CPU dropped to 8%.
    Then svchost.exe used 90% of the CPU. After disabling it the CPU dropped to 7%. After rebooting all the services resumed.
    What now?

  5. ROCKER
    May 1, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much.

    My laptop had a constant 20 - 40 % CPU usage in Window$ 7.

    Your trick of restarting Windows Management Instrumentation did work.

    Now CPU usage is at 0 % if I do not use the laptop!

    But .... by the way, Linux is a million times better than Window$.

    I have installed today Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on the same laptop, as a dual boot with Window$ 7.

    And I LOVE UBUNTU so much!

    • shapour
      May 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      how much u love Ubuntu?

    • rusty
      September 26, 2016 at 1:29 am

      Can Ubuntu run all the programs I have ???

  6. sifar
    April 27, 2016 at 6:25 am

    reinstalling OS could help or type MSCONFIG in run and disable all processes it could help

    • Albi
      August 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      it helped me thanks :D

  7. jon
    April 27, 2016 at 12:32 am

    thanks it lowered cpu usage dramatically...THANKS!

  8. Manju
    April 26, 2016 at 7:29 am

    If i reinstall the Operating System it will help to fixing the issue?

  9. bobbytreland
    April 22, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Yeap IDIOT !

  10. ROBERT DEL ROSSO
    April 6, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Matt Smith:

    SO IN “WINDOWS TASK MANAGER”, I CLICKED “SHOW PROCESSES FROM ALL USERS”.

    WMIPrvSE.exe shows its taking up 5,092 K (5,092 KB? Or 5 MB?). Now it’s using 5,204 K and it’s from the “WMI PROVIDER”, WHOEVER OR WHAT EVER THAT IS!

    AND I RIGHT CLICKED ON WMIPrvSE.exe but “restart” is not an Option.

    So I clicked “END PROCESS”
    And a Box popped up asking / telling me:

    “Do you want to end WMIPrvSE.exe”? If an open Program is associated with this
    process, you will lose any unsaved data. If you end a System Process it may result in
    an unstable system. Are you sure you want to continue?”

    I CLICKED “END PROCESS”
    BUT IT’S STILL THERE! But instead of using up 5,204 K it’s using 2500 K, which now increased to 2700 K and then 2780 K!

    Matt, what’s going on?

    BUT I CANNOT TELL WHAT MY CPU % IS NOW, SINCE I CANNOT GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL WINDOWS TASK MANAGER “PERFORMANCE” SCREEN!

    So I Right clicked on the Windows Task Mgr icon on the Task Bar. And clicked “Close Window”.

    But when I start Windows task Mgr again—I still get the Processes part without access to the Performance Section to show the CPU and RAM usage!

    Matt, any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

    ---Robert Del Rosso
    rdelrosso2001@yahoo.com

  11. ROBERT DEL ROSSO
    April 6, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Matt Smith:
    THANKS FOR THE INFO!

    I was wondering why CPU usage = 99% or 100% with only 2 open windows and 2 open MS Docs. I am a writer and usually keep many more open and CPU rarely = 99%.

    At first, I could not see "Windows Management Instrumentation" in the Processes Tab. Then I clicked on "Processes from all Users" and I SAW it! I am supposed to be the ONLY User (it's MY personal computer)! SO MAYBE I HAVE A VIRUS!

    I am still checking into this-- but wanted to say this for now.

    BTW, I have Kapersky AntiVirus 3.0 (Expires Dec 25, 2016) so I do not see how it failed to stop any Virus. It's supposed to be good.

    --Robert Del Rosso

  12. Bamdad
    January 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Hi, I Disabled the wuauserv(Windows Update) services and my problem is now solved.

    • Lakma
      March 18, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Thank you! Bu disabling it, my CPU usage dropped from 55% to 10%.

    • Mario
      March 21, 2016 at 12:28 am

      Also for me. I Stopped it from task manager > services: Immidiatly cpu usage moved to 3% and fan stop running. Thanks. Mario (Sony Vaio Centrino 2, Windows 7 Pro, SSD Samsung 850 EVO)

    • AM
      April 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      This immediately solved my high CPU usage. thank you!!

  13. shane lamporo
    May 27, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Hello, I have the same issue. I'm really scared because my PC is a gaming PC and it shows in the processes about a dozen of OEMSVC please help me!

  14. John Smith
    April 17, 2015 at 9:22 am

    THESE STEPS APPLY AFTER YOU DONE THE STEPS ABOVE!
    Hi Guys,
    I have found a fix which would work for everyone, when the CPU is at 100% (make sure it is) press and hold the power button, for 10 seconds, until the computer turns off.

    Once it is turned off, if on desktop, Take out the power plug from the back of the computer and leave it for an hour.

    If you are on Laptop take out the battery and the AC cord. Then press and hold the power button for 30-seconds (Even when there is no battery or cord, this removes all the static electricity inside the computer) And then leave your computer for an hour.

    After an hour, plug the computer back in / put the battery AND AC cord in the computer and turn it on . Log In and check the CPU. It should be better.

    • Joe
      February 5, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      What an idiot...

    • AJ
      June 17, 2016 at 12:49 am

      Don't do this, you'll ruin your computer

  15. Cody
    April 9, 2015 at 4:52 am

    WmiPrvSE.exe is taking up a majority of my CPU every few minutes on my computer and I restarted Windows Management Instrumentation which doesn't seem to be working. I also tried running the microsoft download but it wouldn't let me run it because I didn't have enough storage which is strange because I checked and I had plenty of storage. Any tips? I think this started about 2 weeks ago when I noticed lag and crackling on Spotify. I do have a older computer (8-9 years old) but I don't believe it's age is the reason why the CPU is spiking all of a sudden.

  16. akash
    March 24, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    julia i brought a solution fr u , if any 1 have this same problem , just check u r laptop fan is running r not , i got this problem before and i cleaned a dust from the fan , now my laptop performance is perfect .......................................

  17. akash
    March 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    i m using bluestacks, when i open clash of clan , cpu usage goes to 100% usage and system get hanged , also if i open any pc games to play its gets this problem , is there anyway to solve this problem plz help.......

    • Ahmad Malek Nen
      September 3, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Hello, Blustacks also provide the virus. :)...

  18. Julia
    January 30, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    WHat about if excel is the only thing causing the CPU to be at 100% when it is calculating from some intense formulas? what is the fix? better computer with more processing? NOONE has ever been able to help me with this..... please help!!

  19. Jenny
    July 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you very much for all the information you provided here!! It was VERY HELPFUL! And solved my problem. My cpu was peaked at 100% from boot and i had been in the TM several times trying to figure out what the h*¿l was causing it to run so high. Well, thanks to you i now know it was the WmiPrvSE.exe and once i stopped it entirely my cpu is back down to 5-10% at idle. Thanks again!

  20. Pallab
    June 18, 2014 at 1:55 am

    svchost.exe is using 1,60,532KB [I found it it's aero]& rising also vsserv.exe is also using 1,58,512KB and rising [its my bitdefender] [which I cannot stop it says access denied ]

  21. marni
    June 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    [My apologies for previous duplicate post]
    Do you have Comodo's firewall. It'll do it. Cmdagent.exe is a real hog. I deleted CIS and my problem instantly evaporated.
    By the by: to find culprit process, download MS's Process Explorer [a MS utility that actually works - who'd a thunk it]. It'll show high usage processes, if you can tolerate the cluttered interface.

    CIS is supposed to be best [free] firewall, but they pester one with upgrade popups etc., so it's little loss.

  22. marni
    June 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Do you have Comodo's firewall? It'll do it cmdagent.exe is a real hog. I deleted CIS and my cpu fell back to normal.
    It's supposed to be best [free] firewall, but they pester one with upgrade popups etc., so it's little loss.

  23. ShorePatrol
    March 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    If your problem persists perhaps it is time to upgrade. I installed a quad core processor and 2 more drives for a raid 1 config and have never encountered this problem again, sure it is pricey but it is the DEFINITIVE answer.

  24. warlord
    March 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Most of the time, high CPU usage means you have too many chrome/firefox browser extensions; I use many of those. Even my Norton Security Suit warns me that's it's one of the browsers that I'm using that's making my computer slow, especially when streaming videos. I use an old Toshiba Satellite, and this model is known to grab dust and overheat.
    U cannot fix high CPU usage unless you disable extensions which means that you become vulnerable again for the viruses.

  25. Clem
    March 1, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Explorer.exe always goes up the 33% before I have to restart it. Does anyone know why this is??

  26. Tracy
    March 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I have a:HP pavilion g6-2225nr and what is eating up my time and speed is GOOGLE! there has to be something i can clean up or get rid of in my google files, but i'm not sure how to do it ,anyone out there know how i can make my google faster?

    • dragonmouth
      March 4, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      The obvious answer is to get rid of Google. Somehow I don't think you are willing do that. :-)

      In Task Manager check what services and tasks that are running are associated with Google. Kill the ones you do not need, or the ones that you consider least necessary. I assume you do not have hundreds of Chrome extensions active and are using all of Google bells and whistles as that WILL slow down your computer.

  27. Doug Jensen
    February 27, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    If you are referring to the picture of a man on the phone, you are lucky that you don't understand it. A common malware technique is for someone to telephone you, claim to be from Microsoft, and tell you that they have detected a virus on your PC. They try to get you to download a "repair" for your malware--but of course they are trying to install malware on your PC.

    No one should ever be so naive as to fall for this and similar tricks. Microsoft never calls people like that.

    The person almost always has an African accent, and Nigeria seems to be the home turf of most of these scams.

    • Steve
      March 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      Brrr brrr,brrr brrr...

      Me...Hello...

      Caller...Ooer...zis is Vindows deparhtmen.

      Me...Slam of receiver ...(alternatively,play along for half hour being particularly dumb and stupid...then say you need to go...oh they DO get annoyed)

    • Anonymous
      April 17, 2015 at 2:14 am

      I always try to sell stuff back to them. Then I take an airhorn to the phone just for good measure.

  28. Aniket
    February 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I am using Pentium4 processor. I have started to get 100% CPU usage only with Google Chrome. I don't know what is the problem. A few months ago this was not the problem with chrome. I don't even use much extensions. Can you help in this case?

    • dragonmouth
      March 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      In the past few months, Google probably released a "new and improved" version of Chrome. When Chrome was originally released by Google, it was slim and trim. Over time it has been putting on weight as Google stuffs more and more convenience modules into it.

      The number of Chrome extensions in use will also increase the CPU usage.

  29. Juli Bryant
    February 27, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I'm an A+ instructor and I often share your articles with my classes. I was particularly excited about this one as wevare getting to the Windows Management week and this is a great example of the practical application of that lesson. Unfortunately I don't understand the relevance of the meme you have used for your last graphic. If it weren't for my general regard for this publication I would consider it offensive. Can you please explain the message that it's supposed to illustrate? My students are sure to be distracted by it and I would like to be able to manage that conversation as efficiently as possible. Thanks in advance.

    • Realist
      March 31, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Let me guess.............. Black?

    • John W
      April 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      The beach and the black man are shorthand to quickly represent "Nigeria", which is a common source of scam phone calls purportedly from "Microsoft"
      claiming to be able to detect a virus over the phone. It is now so well known that this is a scam it has become a joke in it's own right

    • Random User
      January 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

      So if a white guy was calling then it wouldn't be offensive? But if it depicted some other race, then the picture instantly becomes hidden agenda against other races? If you are offended by something, it doesn't mean you're right about it.

  30. Nicole H
    February 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I am currently battling this very issue...I've done all I know to do but this is gold! Thanks!

  31. Rocco R
    February 27, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Gee, and here I thought that Windows was a virus itself!

  32. Lee Hamilton
    February 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    A too small page file can cause "thrashing" where tasks are constantly being swapped out and in and it seems that nothing can be done. The default page file settings for windows tend to expand the page file as needed which also leads to disk fragmentation and page file fragmentation.

    I tend to keep programs and web pages open instead of exiting and reentering.

    A few tweaks to the page file settings can improve the situation.
    - First defrag your disk if it is a standard hard drive to maximize the contiguous area for your swap file. (Solid State Drives (SSD) would not benefit from defragging due to the wear leveling block reallocation.)
    - change the System Performance Properties (SystemPropertiesPerformance.exe) of your paging file to 4095 MB for 32 bit windows, or possibly larger for 64 bit systems: turn off “automatically manage…” and “system managed size” and specify the same initial and maximum size for the paging file on your system drive (usually C:). Apply and reboot.
    - I recommend using Sysinternals pagedfrg (Page file Defrag) and another reboot.

  33. Anudeep
    February 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    My PC contains dllhost.exe it makes my PC deadly slow and hags evrything.
    Please help me how to remove it as it always appear even after removing from Task manager.

    • Aniket
      February 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      I think you need a good antivirus. Try ..Avira free version.

  34. Howard B
    February 25, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    "System Idle Process - Actually, this process is simply a thread that consumes processor cycles, which are not otherwise being used." Actually, this is just a process that "sleeps" the CPU when the computer is idle; it's not actually *doing* anything, it's just showing how much of the CPU is *not* being used, otherwise your CPU fans would be on full blast, and the "Performance" tab of Task Manager would always be at 100%.

    • Tim
      February 26, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Um. I guess the specific sentence quoted, taken out of context, could give the wrong impression, but the article goes on to say "In fact, you should expect to see this process report that it consumes 95% (or more) of your processor when your PC is at idle. If it’s not, something else is consuming processor cycles without your knowledge." Which, if I am understanding it correctly, is exactly what you are saying.

    • Tim
      February 26, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      I find that the more cores there are the fewer problems like this are likely to be encountered. However, on an older single core processor I did find that I had to shut down Skype and make sure it did not run on start up before the problem was somewhat fixed. I also have had to make sure that for that computer, whatever browser I use does not open multiple pages at the same time, otherwise the CPU flatlines at 100% while all the various page elements load. Well, it does that anyway, but for a much longer period if I am opening multiple pages. Fortunately it is not a computer I use very much

  35. Reedyseth
    February 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    You forgot to mention the annoying OS indexing files or even the wsearch service doing the same stuff.

    Just disable the Indexing stuff from your HDD and the wsearch service from the Service.msc

    Trust me, this indexing stuff takes a lot of your performance, specially in those old desktops.

    • pmshah
      February 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      If you need only file names indexed you could use everything.exe. If you need the contents indexed then you can use copernicdesktopsearch.

    • pmshah
      February 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      "Finally, there’s a possibly that the service could be a worm or virus"

      Believe me the "correct grammar" is badly required on this site. It did wonders on Wordstar !

  36. Dalsan M
    February 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    There could be an issue with Windows Defender/Microsoft Security Essentials causing high CPU usage. Unfortunately, Microsoft did not think that it should exclude its own security software from being scanned. This issue seems more prevalent on XP systems. The fix can be found here: http://www.majorgeeks.com/news/story/fixing_the_high_cpu_usage_perfomance_of_microsoft_security_essentials_and_windows_defender.html.

    Another issue, which isn't high CPU usage but can slow performance and wouldn't seem likely to be the cause, is Wi-Fi settings. The DHCP could be slow, so setting a static IP address to the wireless card could help. More information here: http://www.majorgeeks.com/news/story/is_your_wifi_slowing_down_your_pc.html.

  37. Ryan S
    February 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Your articles always seem to be timed just perfectly. We've been working on an old desktop with new hardware and right from the boot it sits at a 100%. This is a perfect troubleshooting list to say, 'read here. I told you.'

    • sparks
      December 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      This article helped SO much.
      It was just perfect!
      Thank u so much! :D

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