The CPU is the brain of the computer. It is the device that tracks all incoming commands from the user and delegates tasks to the necessary components. However, there are times when it faces an overload.
Sometimes, the CPU may try to handle too many tasks simultaneously, extinguishing its power reserves. Your PC screen might even flash you a warning about the “CPU Usage” being at unsafe levels if that happens.
In such situations, it is of paramount importance to lower the CPU’s power usage. On the other hand, overloading the CPU may result in overheating.
You may be risking your PC hardware then.
Here we try to sum up why the power usage of CPU shoots up and what you can do about it. Let’s dive in.
Why Does Your PC Have High CPU Usage?
You will see apparent symptoms every time your PC has high CPU usage. An evident lag will reign over your screen and occupy all applications you are using. Your PC will run slow and might not even execute heavy software and applications. Sometimes, your workstation might heat up because your CPU is under pressure.
The causes behind having high CPU usage can be very simple or very complex – they can be fixed by rebooting the PC or replacing the CPU itself. We know the spectrum is broad here, but the CPU is as sensitive as it is powerful.
So if you notice the symptoms we mentioned above, you need to check the performance of your PC.
Hit Ctrl + Shift + ESC to open the Task Manager on your PC. Here, click on the Performance tab. The Performance tab shows you an overview of the CPU usage on your computer.
It sheds light upon what processes your machine is running at that point and tells you how much power each process is consuming.
Additionally, you can see how much RAM each task needs.
The higher the RAM requirement, the higher the CPU usage for that task.
Once you get a clear map of the tasks running on your machine, you can end those draining the most power from your CPU.
Alternatively, if you find that some process, which generally needs only a little power, is using surplus power, you can check for deeper underlying issues regarding that process.
The WMI Provider Host
In the Task Manager under the Performance tab, you will see a process named ‘WMI Provider Host’ or ‘Service Host: Windows Management Instrumentation.’ That is an integral part of the Windows ecosystem.
It runs essential tasks in the background as you use your PC.
In addition, it continuously monitors a large number of systems on a given network. Therefore, if the CPU usage of that task is higher by a few points than usual, you might be dealing with a fussy bug in your system.
So, what would you do if you saw the above-normal CPU usage levels on the WMI Provider Host? Simple. When in doubt, use the oldest trick in the book – shut down the task and turn it back on. There are two ways to do this.
First, you can use Windows Search to find ‘Services.msc.’ A window should open.
Now, you have to find the Windows Management Instrumentation option here, right-click on it, and hit ‘Restart.’ You can either follow this method or simply restart your PC to get CPU usage levels down.
Multiple Background Processes
Every computer user runs more than a single process in the background as they work. Even if the user is running a single application on their PC, the CPU might be processing multiple tasks simultaneously to fulfill the output for that application.
The processes that run without the user opening them in a window are called background processes. They are widespread and often exist in large numbers on a busy PC. Unfortunately, they also take up a large chunk of CPU usage.
For an average user, it might be challenging to gauge the number of background processes as they work. However, there is a possibility that they might pile up in huge numbers and considerably raise your CPU’s temperature.
You do not want these background processes unnecessarily using your CPU’s resources. So, how do you get them to stop? The best way to shut down background processes is to nip them in the bud.
You should know that these processes start running the moment you boot your computer. Therefore, you can go to the Startup tab and uncheck them. After that, restart your computer. This time, background processes will not run, and your CPU will be under less load than before.
Like we said before, the causes behind a sharp rise in CPU usage can be vast.
Your antivirus may also be a hindrance to the processing capacity of your computer. The job of antivirus software is to search for malware constantly.
It almost functions like a background process. However, a constant search for viruses has massive processing weight. Such heavy programs lead to decreasing processing speeds in your PC.
There is an easy way to stop the antivirus from piling onto your processor.
Every antivirus software has a scheduling feature that determines when the software will look for threats. Using the same facility, you can enable the antivirus to not look for viruses constantly.
Instead, you can set it up so that the virus hunt only ensues when the CPU is not under massive load.
On the other hand, a virus can also get your CPU all worked up.
A piece of malware can easily terrorize your processing system. For example, it can run an impossible number of background processes to hinder the processing speeds of your computer.
Alternatively, malware can also make your computer perform tasks you didn’t sanction, making your desired tasks slower. Unfortunately, these viruses are sometimes undetectable to antivirus software. You can, however, try using multiple antivirus software to initiate a cleanup to ease up your CPU usage.
Would High CPU Usage Damage Your Computer?
Yes, and no. There are a few variables that decide whether your CPU can sustain heavy usage.
Having a high-end processor on your motherboard along with a strong GPU can allow your PC to run the heaviest software with ease.
That means your PC can run on 100% CPU usage with the right processing team. High-tech gaming PCs are explicitly designed to sustain high CPU usage numbers for long durations of time.
The difference between these uniquely built PCs and other average computers is that they have advanced processors and more efficient cooling processes. Increased CPU usage leads to overheating, and that might harm the hardware components in your PC.
However, with a relatively efficient cooling system that generates the necessary airflow, you can have your CPU usage at 100% for a long time.
The pertinent question is whether you should run a CPU at 100% for long periods. The answer is a hard “no.” It is not advisable to run an ordinary computer at such high CPU usage numbers unless you want a visit from your local fire department.
Most heavy software stops working on a standard PC when you hit 30% CPU usage.
How Do You Reduce Your CPU Usage?
There are a few easy solutions to keep your CPU usage in check. Every time you notice your PC lagging where it generally does not, fire up your Task Manager. Go through all the running tasks and look for anything out of the ordinary.
If you find a process that is using up unnecessary CPU power, shut it down.
Another solution is to defragment the hard drives in your computer regularly. Every activity that you do on your PC is logged into the hard drives. Over time, these hard drives can become cluttered with useless information.
Therefore, it is vital to defragment them regularly. You can begin the process simply by right-clicking on the necessary hard drive and going to the Properties menu.
Then, go to the Tools tab, and click the ‘Defragment now’ button. The size of the hard drive determines the time taken for the defragmentation to be completed.
Every user can keep their CPU usage in check and maintain the CPU from overloading.
If you use only those programs that you need to use, the CPU will have no extra burden. You can keep yourself from using more than two applications simultaneously to reduce CPU usage.
Also, users can try to uninstall the programs that they never use. Using less memory will also ease up the CPU.
The CPU is an essential asset of a computer. It runs the show and triangulates all the functions of the PC.
However, sometimes, an overworked CPU can work slowly, causing the computer to lag. In addition, in some cases where the CPU is used to its maximum capacity, it can overheat and become a hazard risk for other hardware parts.
There are multiple reasons why CPU usage of a PC might rise suddenly.
First, background processes can pile up to become a burden on the processor, resulting in a sloth-paced processing speed.
The trick is to get your CPU doing fewer tasks at once. Upon achieving that, your PC will support you for a long time. On the contrary, if you keep putting more and more processing weight on your CPU, you will reduce its life significantly.
Martha Davis is a computer hardware specialist who works extensively in designing and manufacturing hardware devices, researching advanced computer technology. She built GadgetGangster.com as a platform to share her insight on computers and PC assembly with the web. Currently, she is carrying out her research on Robotics and Computer Vision and working privately to deliver services. Martha makes sure that readers of GadgetGangster.com master the basics of setting up computer components like motherboard, CPUs, and GPUs through the informative articles that she writes.