svchost.exe uses 50% of CPU

  johnpalmer 06:58 01 Dec 2017

Two weeks ago, when I booted up my elderly Dell (running XP),I noticed my CPU usage was permanently at 50% (svchost.exe was the culprit as viewed on windows task manager). Prior to that, when my PC was at standby before any use, my CPU registered 0% usage. This slows my computer dramatically. If I end the svchost.exe process on my task manager (I know I shouldn't do it) the CPU usage drops back to zero. Does anyone know why this should suddenly start happening.

  Govan1x 09:19 01 Dec 2017

Go into services and Disable Windows Update and stop it from running. See if that makes any difference.

  qwbos 11:52 01 Dec 2017

After you've started your PC and before you've loaded any programs, what other processes apart from svchost.exe are running?

Also, have a read of this

1]: [click here

  johnpalmer 10:11 03 Dec 2017

Govan1x, Disabling Windows Update made no difference I'm afraid. qwbos, Apart from svchost.exe nothing is running, except at the moment Chrome web browser which I am on PCAdvisor website writing to you. Will look at your suggested page. Thanks

  Secret-Squirrel 11:43 03 Dec 2017

John, SVCHOST is the process that handles running services. There can be many running under the one process. Unfortunately Windows XP doesn't have the tools to pinpoint the specific culprit that's constantly hogging 50% of your CPU.

Having said that though, you may be able to tell what's causing the problem using a Microsoft tool called "Process Explorer". You can download it from here. Run the program and look down the list for an instance of svchost.exe that's using 50% of the CPU. There may be numerous instances. When you find it, double click on the entry then click the "Services" tab. Let me know what's listed there and hopefully I'll be able to suggest a fix.

  johnpalmer 11:29 07 Dec 2017

There are 20 services running. Windows Audio, Cryptographic Services, DHCP Client, COM+ event system, Fast User Switching, HID Input Service, Server, Workstation, Network Connections, NLA, Remote Access Connection Manager, Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing, Shell Hardware Detection, System Restore Service, Telephony, Themes, Windows Management Instrumentation, Security Center, Automatic Updates, Wireless Zero Configuration. That's the lot. Thanks

  Secret-Squirrel 12:15 07 Dec 2017

There are 20 services running.

Drat. I was hoping there would only one one or two that would make locating the specific culprit easier. Having said that though, I find that it's usually the "Automatic Update" service that causes your problem nowadays. Because updates for XP ended years ago, it is likely to be be very safe to disable that service. Your CPU should return to normal and your performance speed increase. Here's what you need to do:

Click your Start button, click "Run", type services.msc then click "OK". Locate "Automatic Updates" in the list then double-click on it. First, click the "Stop" button at the bottom and confirm in Task Manager that the CPU is no longer at 50%. If that's the case then set the "Startup Type" to "Disabled". Click OK and you're done.

Don't worry if you see a new red warning icon bottom-right near the clock telling you that updates are turned off. If that alert bugs you then head over to Control Panel -> Security Center -> Change the way Security Center alerts me -> untick Automatic Updates -> OK.

  qwbos 20:25 07 Dec 2017

Turn off Automatic Updates (Control Panel, Security Centre) then reboot and open Task Manager. Check CPU usage - should be below 5% with nothing else running. If not, what's using CPU?

If it is below 5%, Start, All Programs, Microsoft Update. Check Task Manager while Microsoft Update is loading and again check CPU usage once it settles. It should settle back to around 5% or so. If not, what's running.

The "normal" svchost.exe problem associated with XP is blamed on a flaw that sets update looking through the vast library of Internet Explorer updates, but usually, usage is reported as at or near 100%, so what you're experiencing may be something different.

I hadn't experienced the problem for a few months up till last months updates and got round it by updating direct from the catalogue as described in my post of 01 Dec.

Since then, I've run updates a few times without any problem.

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