Reducing Processor Usage in Windows

If your computer seems to be running a bit slower than usual, it is possible your computer is running at higher CPU capacity than normal. Most commonly used programs and processes will cause your computer to run at a cool 5%. When watching videos, playing games, and running certain applications, this figure can spike temporarily but should return to normal after the media or application is finished running.

Some issues can cause your computer to run at higher percentages for long periods of time. A high percentage is considered 50% or more for extended periods. This can cause your computer performance to diminish, resulting in slower operation, freezes, and random shutdowns. Some of these issues can include but are not limited to:

  • A program or application encountered an unexpected error
  • A program got “stuck” causing it to operate on an infinite loop
  • Running too many applications at once
  • Virus/Malware infections

If these problems persist, they can result in the CPU running at 100% capacity regularly, which in turn forces the CPU to continually free up processing power. This causes slow and cumbersome operation.

First things first — you should check the running capacity or your computer in your Task Manager. The Task Manager is an application that displays detailed information about running applications, computer performance, and current capacity usage.

Task Manager Access

Before accessing the Task Manager, make sure all non-necessity programs and windows are closed. Then you can access the Task Manager screen:

  • Windows XP: Press Ctrl+Alt+Del simultaneously, the window should instantly appear.
  • Windows Vista / 7 and Windows 8: Press Ctrl+Alt+Del simultaneously. This will bring you to a security screen, and you can click Task Manager from the options listed.

The Task Manager should look similar to this:

Reducing Processor Usage in Windows
Reducing Processor Usage: Processes

Your computer performance is displayed at the bottom of this window. Pay close attention to the current CPU Usage in the display. In this example, the CPU Usage is running at 2% and current running processes are 60.

Now that you can view current processes and applications as they are running, click the CPU column as pictured below.

Reducing Processor Usage in Windows
Reducing Processor Usage: CPU Tab

Now you can take note of which programs are causing the highest CPU usage.

If an application is occupying most of the usage, this can indicate there is a problem with the applications process. You can choose to end the process by highlighting the errant program and clicking End Process. See below:

Reducing Processor Usage in Windows
Reducing Processor Usage: End Process

This will end the process you selected, freeing up CPU usage space the application was occupying.

If normal programs such as Word or Outlook are constantly using up your process space, this could indicate a bigger problem. Since these programs normal take up very little usage, a virus may be causing problems with these programs. Installing a reputable anti-virus software could help clear up issues related to virus or spyware infections which could be affecting your computers performance.

It is also possible that your computer simply does not have enough memory in order to run programs you like to use often. In this case, you can call a professional to install RAM or “random access memory” into your computer. RAM can increases your computer’s processing ability by allowing for more application information to be stored in its memory, effectively freeing space for running programs.

  • Kleber E. Alvarenga

    Ótimas dicas, muita gente até mesmo formata seus micros para resolver problemas simples.

    Kleber Alvarenga – Consultor do Sistema ERP da SBG.

  • Ronny

    Beste Steve, Eerst hartelijk bedankt om de tips! Na het lezen van de probleemoplosser – in mijn geval een té lage CPU – waarde – zal ik eens een kijkje nemen bij Taakbeheer. Nochtans, zijn de aangegeven problemen rond de CPU bij mij juist het omgekeerde. Reeds lange tijd is het mij opgevallen dat telkens de waarde op 0 % staat, mijn programma’s niet opstarten. Zodra deze waarde naar omhoog gaat, kan ik reeds aan het geluid van mijn pc horen dat de aangeklikte programma(‘s) aan het opstarten zijn. Het rare bij mij, is dat mijn CPU – gehalte steeds als een grote golf op en neer beweegt. Nadat ik mijn bericht gepost heb ga ik dus eerst eens zien en hopelijk met resultaat, doen wat u in uw boodschap deelt. Tot slot wil ik u enkel positieve feedback meegeven en nooit negatief: Hoogstwaarschijnlijk is de bron van jouw aanbevelingen, in het Engels opgemaakt. Maar de omzetting naar de Nederlandse taal – waarschijnlijk automatische gegenereerde computervertalingen – is zeer slecht en bovendien, moeilijk te begrijpen. Indien U wil, ben ik steeds bereid dergelijke teksten vanuit het Engels naar het Nederlands te vertalen. Met vriendelijke groeten, Ratinckx Ronnny

  • Niko Luhtanen

    how to fix: my CPU usage is 100% and i think that’s why i had blue screen of death today. Then my computer restarted and everything was fine. It scared the shit out of me. Im asking this because dat english-finnish translate.

  • Faisal

    Bro your CPU shut down due to overheating . The solution to this is go to power settings and additional power setting go to change power plan settings then advanced power plan settings here you wil find processor power managment something like that here in place of maximum put 90 if its 100 and put 80 if its 90 this will surely help

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