[Full Guide] How to Lower CPU Usage in Windows

[Full Guide] How to Lower CPU Usage in Windows

/ Andrew Holdeman

A CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the most important component of any computer. It acts as the machine’s “brain,” responsible for carrying out instructions and performing calculations to make everything else in the system run smoothly.

The CPU contains millions of tiny transistors that track what programs are running and execute commands from memory. Sometimes, users are unaware of how much they use their PC’s CPU. The article below will provide solutions and steps to help lower the CPU usage on your PC.

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Common Reasons for High CPU Usage Issues

Below is a list of some common reasons that may cause high CPU usage issues on your computer. Understanding these reasons can help you effectively resolve or prevent high CPU usage problems, ensuring smooth and efficient operation of your system.

  1. Running Multiple Applications Simultaneously: Running multiple resource-intensive applications at the same time, such as video editing software, games, or web browsers with multiple tabs, can strain your computer’s CPU and cause high CPU usage. Close unnecessary applications to reduce the load on your CPU.
  2. Background Processes and Services: Sometimes, unknown background processes or services running on your computer can consume a significant amount of CPU resources. Checking the Task Manager and ending unnecessary processes can help lower the CPU usage.
  3. Malware or Viruses: Malware or viruses can also be a culprit for high CPU usage. They can infiltrate your computer and consume CPU resources, causing your system to slow down or become unresponsive. Regularly update your antivirus software and perform scans to ensure your computer remains protected.
  4. Outdated or Corrupted Drivers: Outdated or corrupted drivers can affect the performance of your computer and lead to high CPU usage. Ensure your drivers are up to date by regularly updating them through the Device Manager or using dedicated driver update tools.
  5. Insufficient Memory (RAM): Not having enough memory (RAM) on your computer can cause high CPU usage since the CPU has to compensate for the lack of memory resources. Upgrading your system’s memory can help to alleviate this issue and improve overall performance.
  6. Windows and Software Updates: Issues with Windows updates or application updates can cause conflicts within your system, leading to high CPU usage. Regularly check for and apply system and software updates to keep your computer running smoothly.
  7. Overheating: When a computer is running at a high temperature, it can cause the CPU to work harder, resulting in high CPU usage. Proper ventilation and cooling systems should be in place to prevent overheating and maintain optimal CPU performance.
  8. Faulty Hardware: Faulty hardware components, such as a damaged motherboard or CPU, can also lead to high CPU usage problems. If you suspect hardware failure, have your computer diagnosed by a professional technician.

Understanding and being aware of the common reasons for high CPU usage can help you take proper preventative measures and resolve these issues in a timely manner, ensuring the smooth operation of your system.

How to Fix High CPU Usage in Windows

Restart the WMI Provider Host Process

If your Central Processing Unit or CPU has a usage of 100%, you may have encountered a problem with the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) provider host. Restarting the WMI provider host can help to resolve this issue. WMI is a set of specifications from Microsoft for consolidating the management of devices and applications in a network.

It is used to provide information and instrumentation for managing the system. Restarting the WMI provider host can help reset the system and free up any resources used. This, in turn, can help to reduce the 100 CPU usage and improve system performance.

Step 1: Check if the WMI Provider host is causing the problem. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task manager.

Step 2: Locate Service Host: Windows Management Instrumentation.

end wmi task

If its CPU usage is more than a few percent and there is no program being run that could be causing it, then it is not working correctly.

Step 3: Restart the WMI. Press Shift + Sand type Services.

Step 4: Locate Windows Management Instrumentation, right-click and select Restart.

restart wmi service

End the Processes That Cause High CPU Usage Problems

When the CPU runs at 100%, your computer is overloaded and can’t keep up with the demand. It could be caused by a single application or multiple applications running at the same time.

By ending unnecessary processes, you can reduce the CPU usage load and help it run more efficiently. This can help improve the overall performance of your computer and reduce the heat generated by the CPU.

Step 1: Run Task Manager by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC.

Step 2: In the Processes tab, click on the CPU column to order by CPU usage.

Step 3: Select processes consuming high CPU usage and click the End task button.

select apps with high cpu usage

Use the Event Viewer to Identify Issues

Event Viewer is a powerful Windows tool that can identify and troubleshoot computer issues. It is especially useful for diagnosing high CPU usage and providing detailed information about the processes using the most CPU resources. With Event Viewer, you can quickly identify which processes are consuming the most CPU time and then take steps to address the issue.

Step 1: Right-click on the Windows icon and select Event Viewer.

event viewer option

Step 2: Click on Applications and Services logs> Microsoft > Windows > WMI-activity > Operational.

Step 3: You can see the errors under the Operational Events; click on the error to check the ClientProcessID.

clientprocessid in event viewer

Step 4: If you think that the error is causing high CPU usage, open the task manager, find the ID, and close it.

Change Your Power Settings to Lower CPU Usage

Changing your power settings can be a great way to fix high CPU usage issues. By adjusting the power settings on your computer, you can lower the amount of power being used and reduce the strain on your CPU. This can help to reduce the amount of time your CPU spends running at full capacity and can help to improve the performance of your computer.

Step 1: Open the Control panel and select Power Options.

select power options in control panel

Step 2: Choose the Balanced (recommended) option and click on Change plan settings.

balanced power options

Step 3: Click on Restore default settings for this plan and click the Save changes button.

restore default settings for this plan

Faulty Modifying Settings in Registry Editor

Step 1: Press Win + R, type regedit, and press enter to open the Registry editor.


Step 2: Navigate this key path and locate the correct system files: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TimeBroker

timebroker regedit

Step 3: Right-click on the Start key and select Modify.

modify start regedit entry

Step 4: Change the Value Data to 4 and click the OK button to save changes.

change value data to 4

Modify Windows Notification Settings

By disabling these notifications, you are allowing your computer’s processor to focus more on running other programs instead of being bogged down with unnecessary pop-ups and alerts. This will also help conserve battery life and reduce system lag as well.

Some Windows updates may cause excessive CPU usage, which could be resolved by turning off the relevant notification settings for those updates to prevent them from downloading or installing automatically.

Step 1: Press Win + I to open the Windows Settings and click on System.

Step 2: Select Notifications & Actions and toggle off Notifications.

disable all notifications

Disable Startup Programs to Lower CPU Usage

Disabling startup programs is a great way to fix the CPU 100% Usage issue. By disabling unnecessary applications from running at startup, you can reduce the number of resources used by your computer and ensure that only essential programs are running in the background.

Disabling startup programs that consume high CPU power, will free up system resources, allowing your processor to run more efficiently and prevent it from overheating or becoming overloaded with tasks. Disabling startup programs can help improve overall system performance and reduce boot time when starting your computer.

Step 1: Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open the Task manager.

Step 2: In the Task manager window, go to the Startup tab.

Step 3: Select unnecessary applications with high startup impact

Step 4: Right-click and select Disable.

disable icloud in startup

Close Unnecessary Programs to Lower CPU Usage

Having high CPU usage can be a major issue when using a computer, and it can slow down your computer and make it difficult to complete tasks. Many causes of high CPU usage can be solved by closing unnecessary applications and programs requiring high processing power.

Step 1: Press Win + R, type msconfig and click the OK button.


Step 2: Go to the Services tab and check the Hide all Microsoft services box.

hide all microsoft services

Step 3: Click the Disable all button, Apply, and then the OK button.

Do an Antivirus Scan Using Windows Defender

It can help to identify and remove malicious software that may be causing your computer to run slowly or freeze up unexpectedly. By running a virus scan, you can ensure that any malicious programs are removed from your system and prevent them from causing further damage or slowing down performance. Scanning for viruses regularly helps keep your computer secure by detecting new threats before they have a chance to cause harm.

Step 1: Open your Windows security.

click on windows security icon

Step 2: Select Virus & threat protection.

open virus and threat protection

Step 3: Click on Scan options and select Windows Defender Offline Scan.

select scan options

Step 4: Click the Scan now button.

windows defender offline scan

Update Your Drivers to Fix High CPU Usage

Drivers are essential components of any computer system; they enable the hardware and software to interact, allowing for smoother operation. Without updated drivers, computers may experience slower performance or even crash altogether.

This is especially true when it comes to high-performance tasks like gaming or video editing, which require a lot of processing power from the CPU. Regularly updating your device’s drivers ensures that all components are running at their peak efficiency and avoids unnecessary issues such as excessive CPU usage.

Step 1: Press Win + R, type devmgmt.msc, and press enter.

Step 2: Right-click on the Drivers and select Update Drivers.

update ssd driver

Check Windows Update

By updating your Windows operating system, you may be able to resolve this issue and restore normal CPU performance. When dealing with an unusually high CPU utilization on your computer, one potential solution is to update the version of Microsoft Windows that you are running on it.

Keeping all installed applications updated should always remain part f routine maintenance activities when troubleshooting sluggishness-related issues. This is because many programs rely heavily upon third-party components whose stability depends on their current release status.

If these programs fail, they might not function properly anymore, leading to further complications if left unattended for prolonged durations without regular checkups being conducted periodically instead.

Step 1: Open the Start menu and click the Settings icon.

open windows settings

Step 2: Click Update & Security and select Windows Update.

Step 3: Check if there are any updates available; if there is click on the Install now button.

Run System Restore

System Restore is an excellent tool for fixing CPU high usage problems. It allows users to revert their computer to a previous state before the problem occurred. This can be especially helpful if you are unsure of what caused the issue in the first place. System Restore

Points also allow users to save time by not manually restoring settings and files that may have been lost due to a system crash or other unexpected event. With System Restore Point, you can quickly return your computer to working order with minimal effort and time invested!

Step 1: Open the Control panel and select Recovery.

Step 2: Click on Open System Restore.

Open System Restore

Step 3: Select Choose a different restore point and click the Next button.

choose different restore point

Step 4: Confirm your choice by clicking Finish, then Yes, to begin the recovery.

Reinstalling Windows to Fix High CPU Usage

This process involves cleaning your computer and reinstalling the operating system from scratch, which can help resolve any conflicts or issues causing your CPU to run at higher-than-normal levels. It’s an easy solution that often works, but it requires time and effort on the user’s part to get everything back up and running properly.

Step 1: Press Win + I and select Update & Security.

Step 2: Select Recovery and then click the Get started button under Reset this PC.

get started option

Step 3: Choose the Keep my files option.

keep my files

Frequently Asked Questions About CPU 100% Usage

What is high CPU usage?

High CPU Usage refers to a computer or device experiencing unusually high utilization of its Central Processing Unit (CPU). When this happens, the performance of the system can be greatly impacted, and this can cause programs and processes to take longer to execute, which reduces overall productivity and efficiency.

What is a system idle process?

The System Idle Process is a Microsoft Windows operating system feature that runs when no other higher-priority programs or processes are running. It essentially keeps the CPU “idle,” allowing it to respond quickly to user input and high-priority tasks. The System Idle Process can also help conserve battery life, reducing idle power consumption.

What causes high CPU usage?

Various factors, including background resource-intensive programs, malware or virus infections, and damaged hardware, can cause high CPU usage. Sometimes, it can indicate an underlying problem with your computer’s operating system or software.

What is normal CPU usage on a PC?

Normal CPU usage on a PC depends on the type of processor installed in the system and what tasks it is being used for. Generally speaking, average CPU utilization should range from 40-60% when idling and running low-demand tasks such as web browsing or word processing.

Does third-party antivirus software affect CPU usage?

Third-party antivirus programs can take a toll on your computer’s performance, including CPU usage. These programs continuously scan for malware and other threats, which can dramatically increase the system’s computing power. Furthermore, this security software often requires frequent updates that require more processing power from the CPU.

Why should I reduce CPU usage?

CPU usage reduction should be a priority to improve your computer’s performance. High CPU usage can significantly slow down your computer, causing it to lag while performing tasks and making programs unresponsive. Reducing the number of resources applications use can help keep your machine running smoothly, even when multiple programs run simultaneously.

Do antivirus programs use a high percentage of CPU?

Antivirus programs typically do not use a high percentage of CPU. While they provide important protection to systems, they are designed to be low on resources to not interfere with other program activities. Antivirus software usually only scans for viruses and malware when the system is idle or when new programs are installed.

Andrew Holdeman
Meet the author

Andrew has extensive experience with a wide range of writing platforms and automation systems. He has spent over 6 years creating content and troubleshooting for various companies. He also enjoys spending time with his family and his fiancé, while staying active and healthy.