A high CPU usage affects the performance and heats the system. Execute these quick and simple fixes to resolve the high CPU usage issue.
When your system’s CPU usage is high, it leads to apps lagging, being unresponsive, or crashing altogether. Apart from that, any webpage you open will take a lot longer. The system will heat up while the CPU fan works on full throttle. This not just affects the system performance, but a heated system can damage the various components.
There’s no single reason behind the high CPU usage on a Windows 11 PC. Thus a sole fix wouldn’t resolve the issue either. You will first have to identify the underlying cause and then choose the appropriate fix. Before we move to the fixes, let’s first understand the various issues that lead to a high CPU usage error.
What Causes High CPU Usage?
As stated earlier, the high CPU usage can be caused due to a lot of issues. We have listed the most common ones to help you identify the cause in your case.
- Running multiple high-end apps simultaneously
- Certain services are known to cause the issue
- System infected with malware or adware
- Too many apps running in the background
- Antivirus overloading the CPU
Now that you have an understanding of the issues that lead to high CPU usage, identify the one with your PC and execute the suitable fix mentioned below. In case you are unable to pinpoint a single issue, execute the following fixes in the mentioned sequence to quickly and effectively resolve the high CPU usage issue.
How to Check CPU Usage?
Before we move to the fixes, you must know how to check CPU usage and subsequently identify if it’s actually high CPU usage that’s slowing down the system. There could be a lot of other reasons for the system to slow down as well. For effective troubleshooting, we first got to identify the error and then execute the relevant fix.
To check CPU usage, search for ‘Task Manager’ in the Start Menu and then click on the relevant search result to launch the app. Alternatively, you can press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to directly launch the ‘Task Manager’.
In the Task Manager, you will find the CPU usage mentioned for each app and the background process mentioned next to it in the ‘CPU’ column. Also, the total CPU usage is mentioned at the top of the column. Now, you can identify which program or service is hogging your CPU.
You cannot generalize the CPU usage for each computer or user. It depends on the task at hand. For instance, in the case of normal use, the CPU usage would be around 5% to 30%, while for high-end apps and games, it could go up to 80%.
You may see the CPU usage shoot momentarily, but that shouldn’t be a cause of concern since it could be a background process running a scan. However, if the CPU usage remains high for prolonged periods and affects the system performance, head to the fixes mentioned in the article right away.
1. Restart the Computer
If you are unable to work on the system due to high CPU usage, restarting the computer would work as a fix. However, this would just work as a temporary fix to get things up and running. Once the system starts to function properly, you got to identify the underlying cause and execute the relevant fix to resolve the issue.
To restart the computer, click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press the WINDOWS key to launch the Start Menu. Next, hold the SHIFT key and click on the ‘Power’ button in the ‘Start Menu’, and finally select ‘Restart’.
Once your system restarts, the CPU usage should be back to normal levels, and you can execute the other fixes mentioned here.
2. Update Windows
Running an outdated version of Windows could also be a possible cause of high CPU usage. Therefore, updating Windows should be your prime approach. With each update, Microsoft releases fixes for bugs in the previous version.
To update Windows, right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar to launch the Quick Access Menu, and select ‘Settings’ from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to launch the Settings app.
In the ‘Settings’ window, select the ‘Windows Update’ tab from the left.
Next, click on the ‘Check for update’ option near the top-right. Windows will now scan for any available updates, and install if any is available.
After the updates are installed, restart the computer and check if the CPU usage is now under check or continues to remain high for prolonged periods. In case it still remains high, move to the next fix.
3. Disable Background Apps
Multiple apps running in the background can also hog your CPU, thus resulting in high CPU usage. While many users prefer having apps running in the background since it enhances system performance, it would be counterproductive in case of high CPU usage. Therefore, it’s recommended that you disable these apps.
In the previous versions of Windows, you could disable all the background apps at once. However, in Windows 11, you have to individually disable the apps from running in the background. Here’s how you do it.
To disable an app from running in the background, launch the ‘Settings’ app as discussed earlier, select the ‘Apps’ tab from the left and click on the ‘Apps & features’ option on the right.
Now, locate the apps that you don’t want running in the background, click on the ellipsis next to them and select ‘Advanced options’ from the menu.
Next, click on the drop-down menu for ‘Let this app run in background’ under ‘Background apps permissions’.
Finally, select ‘Never’ from the list of options. The app will not run in the background anymore.
You can similarly disable other apps from running in the background. You would only see the ‘Advanced options’ section for apps that run in the background. For apps that don’t run in the background, the option wouldn’t be available.
4. Change Power Options
If you have recently modified the power plan and have started encountering the high CPU usage ever since, it’s time you revert to the original settings.
To revert to the original power settings, search for ‘Edit power plan’ in the Start Menu, and click on the relevant search result to launch it.
Next, click on ‘Restore default settings for this plan’ at the bottom.
Choose the appropriate response in case a confirmation box pops up. After you have restored the default settings, restart the computer and check if the CPU usage remains under normal levels. Launch the app that you generally do, continue working on your system, and monitor the CPU usage. If it doesn’t shoot anymore, it was the power setting. However, if the CPU usage remains high, try changing the power plan.
To change the power plan, launch the ‘Edit Power Plan’ window as you did earlier, and select ‘Power Options’ from the Address Bar at the top.
Now, choose the ‘High performance’ power plan from the list.
Check if the high CPU usage issue is resolved. If not, move to the next fix.
5. Run a Scan
The high CPU usage could also be due to the presence of malware on your system. Running a scan would help identify and remove the malware. You could either use the built-in Windows Security app or any other third-party antivirus for the scan. For this article, we will be using the Windows Security app.
To run a scan, search for ‘Windows Security’ in the Start Menu, and then click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
Next, click on the ‘Virus & threat protection’ option.
Now, click on ‘Scan options’ right under the ‘Quick scan’ button to view the various kind of scans you can run.
Finally, select the ‘Full scan’ option by ticking the checkbox for it, and then click on ‘Scan now’ at the bottom.
Windows Security will now run a scan to identify any threats present on the system and take the required measures. You will be informed of any threats that are found. Since you are running a ‘Full scan’, it would take some time to complete. However, you can continue working on other apps while the scan runs in the background.
After the scan is complete and the threat neutralized, check if the high CPU usage issue is resolved.
6. Disable Third-party Antivirus and VPN Software
If you have any installed a third-party antivirus or VPN software, try disabling it. These programs are known to hog the CPU by running scans in the background or performing tasks that are not critical to the functioning of Windows 11. You can find the disable option in the ‘Settings’ of antivirus or VPN. If you are unable to locate the option, check the official website of the software for more help.
If disabling the software didn’t help, another option is to uninstall it altogether. This may sound a bit over the top to many, but you can always reinstall the program, if uninstalling shows no signs of improvement in the CPU usage.
To uninstall the Antivirus or VPN app, search for ‘Run’ in the Start Menu, and click on the relevant search result to launch the app. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + R to directly launch the ‘Run’ command.
Next, enter ‘appwiz.cpl’ in the provided section and then either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER.
You will now be presented with a list of programs on the computer. Select the antivirus or VPN software and click on ‘Uninstall’ at the top.
After uninstalling the software, check if the high CPU usage issue is fixed via the Task Manager, as discussed earlier. If it persists, reinstall the apps since they weren’t the culprit in this case and move to the next fix.
7. Update Drivers
If the high CPU usage issue persists after executing the above fixes, it could be due to outdated drivers. Although Windows generally looks up for updates and installs them automatically, you may sometimes need to manually update the error. An outdated driver may have bugs that are leading to an elevated CPU usage and updating it should in all likelihood fix the error.
To update the drivers, search for ‘Device Manager’ in the Start Menu and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
Once in the ‘Device Manager’, first locate the critical drivers and update them. Once done with the critical drivers, you can move to the drivers for peripherals that are currently connected to the system.
Let’s first start with the ‘Graphics Driver’, and if it doesn’t fix the issue, move to the others. Also, this would give you an understanding of the process.
Now, click on the carrot sign behind the ‘Display adapters’ option to view the adapters under it. Next, right-click on the adapter that appears and select ‘Update driver’ from the context menu.
In the ‘Update Drivers’ window, you will have the option to either let Windows search the computer for the best available driver and install it or manually install one. It’s recommended that you let Windows do the job, hence select the first option.
After the driver is updated, check if the CPU usage lowers to normal levels. In case Windows is unable to find an update, you can search for it on the manufacturer’s website. Many device manufacturers don’t submit the driver updates to Microsoft, rather upload them on their official website for users.
But, before you download the driver update, it’s necessary to identify the current driver version.
To find the current driver version, again right-click on the driver and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu.
In the ‘Properties’ window, navigate to the ‘Driver’ tab and jot down the ‘Driver Version’.
Once you have the current driver version, search the web for the driver update. To narrow down the search, use ‘Computer Model’, ‘Operating System’, and ‘Driver Name’ as the search parameters. In the search result, locate and open the manufacturer’s official website.
Now, check if there’s an update available using the current driver version that you earlier noted. If there’s one available, download it to the computer. Also, many device manufacturers have a tool that automatically detects the current drivers on the system and recommends the ones to be updated.
After you have download the update, double-click on the installer and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process. Now, restart the computer and check if updating the driver fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, follow the same process with other critical drivers and update them all.
This might seem like a tedious task but it wouldn’t take a lot of time since, in all likelihood, updates for just a few drivers would be available while the others would be up-to-date.
8. Disable Services
A lot of services can hog the CPU and lead to a high CPU usage issue on a Windows 11 PC. It’s not recommended that you disable these services unless absolutely necessary, therefore, the fix has been mentioned at the last. Also, if disabling a particular service show no sign of improvement with the CPU usage, re-enable it right away.
Let’s now take one service at a time.
Disable SysMain (Superfetch)
SysMain is a service that preloads the apps you frequently use to the RAM, thus boosting the system performance. However, it’s known to lead to high CPU usage, and disabling it worked for many users.
To disable SysMain, search for ‘Services’ in the Start Menu and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
Next, locate the ‘SysMain’ service and double-click on it to launch its properties. The services here are by default listed in alphabetical order, thus locating one won’t be much of a trouble.
In the properties window, click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Startup type’ and select ‘Disabled’ from the list of options.
Now, click on ‘Stop’ under ‘Service status’, and once the service stops running, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to apply the changes.
Now, check if the CPU usage lowers to normals levels.
Disable Windows Search
Windows Search service indexes data on your system to quickly display the results. This is an important service, but might be hogging the CPU. Hence, try disabling it and check if it fixes the issue.
To disable Windows Search, locate the service, and double-click on it to launch its properties.
Next, click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Startup type’ and select ‘Disabled’ from the list.
Finally, click on ‘Stop’ under ‘Service status’ and wait for the service to stop running. Once it does, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes.
Now, check if disabling the service improves the CPU usage. In case it doesn’t re-enable the service.
Disable Windows Update
The Windows Update service automatically scans for any available updates and downloads them to your system. These updates contain critical fixes and improvements. Just the like two services we discussed earlier, this one too is known to consume a lot of resources.
To disable Windows Update, locate the service in the ‘Services’ window and double-click on it to launch its properties.
Now, click the drop-down menu for ‘Startup type’ and select ‘Disabled’ from the list of options.
Finally, as you did earlier, click on ‘Stop’ under ‘Service status’ and once the service stops running, click on ‘OK’ to apply the changes.
Now, check the CPU usage in the Task Manager. It should now drop down to normal levels and not shoot until you run plenty of high-end apps.
9. Check Power Supply
A faulty power supply is also known to cause high CPU usage issues. When the CPU receives lesser power, it reduces the functioning capacity. This decrease is in accordance with the power supply reduction. In this case, the CPU functions only at a fraction of its capacity, thus leading to high CPU usage.
It would be difficult for most to identify the shortfall in power supply, therefore, we recommend seeking professional guidance and get things repaired to fix the issue.
The above fixes would help resolve the high CPU usage issue on a Windows 11 PC. But, before you start executing the fixes, try to identify if it’s a particular app or service that’s resulting in high CPU usage and execute the relevant fix. This would help save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent executing fixes which are not relevant to the underlying cause.