How to fix SVCHOST high CPU usage problem?

January 15, 2014 By | Add a Comment

You may have noticed that the SVCHOST.EXE process has a high CPU usage that drains your laptop's battery. This article tells you how you can quickly and easily fix the problem.

Screenshot: Multiple SVCHOST processes in TaskManager Multiple SVCHOST processes in TaskManager

What is SVCHOST.EXE?

Before jumping into the details, let me first explain what the SVCHOST.EXE actually is, because having a basic knowledge of this program will help you to understand the action you need to take to prevent this process from draining your battery life.

SVCHOST.EXE is a part of the Windows operating system that hosts various service programs. These programs run in the background and provide functionality that is critical to the performance of the Windows operating system. Every SVCHOST.EXE process hosts one or more services, and there are usually ten to twenty instances of SVCHOST.EXE processes running on one computer at any time.

Usually, these services do not consume a significant amount of CPU time and you generally do not see each SVCHOST.EXE process using in excess of 2% of your total CPU usage. However, occasionally, they do use more CPU usage. SVCHOST.EXE processes may do so for the following reasons:

  1. To perform operations that are critical to the performance of the operating system

    This includes maintaining the network connection and providing functionalities that are critical to the application programs. If you stop these type of activities your computer cannot operate properly and, in some cases, will completely crash.

  2. To perform non-critical work

    Some of the examples of non-critical operations that SVCHOST.EXE will perform are scheduled file backups and regular Windows updates.

    You may want to defer these activities while your laptop is running on a battery.

  3. As the result of a Windows bug

    Many programs have bugs and Windows is no exception. Occasionally, one of the services hosted by SVCHOST.EXE may go out of control and will subsequently consume very high CPU resources. In the event this occurs you need to stop the out of control service as soon as possible to minimize battery drain.

Actions you should never take:

  • Kill the SVCHOST.EXE process.

    As mentioned earlier, one SVCHOST.EXE process usually hosts multiple services. As such, terminating one SVCHOST.EXE process will kill all services hosted by the process and there is a very high chance that this will result in a service that is critical to the operation of your computer being shut down, the end result being that your computer is entirely crippled.

  • Stop one of the services hosted by the SVCHOST.EXE process without knowing which service is responsible for the high CPU usage.

    You may have seen other blog posts that advise you to stop particular services in order to resolve any issues you have with high CPU usage as a result of SVCHOST.EXE. However, as this problem can be caused by any service, blindly assuming that one service in particular is the cause of the problem is not a good idea.

What you should do:

As with most things in life, it's important that you start by finding the cause of the problem and then taking appropriate action to remedy it. In this case, you need to:

  1. Determine which service is responsible for the high CPU usage.
  2. Understand what that service does.
  3. Stop the service if it is safe to do so.

Now all that may sound very complicated but, in reality, it couldn't be simpler to find and fix the problem when you have the right tools. Battery Life Maximizer makes it easy for you to quickly prevent SVCHOST.EXE from draining your battery life in just a few clicks.

Here is how:

  1. Open the Battery Life Maximizer window.

  2. Select the Program Activity page.

  3. Identify the program that is responsible for the high CPU usage by viewing the data presented in the CPU Usage column. It's simple: the higher the percentage listed against a program, the more battery life it is draining. In the screenshot below, Windows Backup and Superfetch are two SVCHOST.EXE services that are using high CPU (9.2% and 4.5% respectively).

    Screenshot: Battery Life Maximizer showing each SVCHOST's service name
    Battery Life Maximizer showing each SVCHOT's service name
  4. Double click on the row that contains the service you wish to look at in more detail.

  5. Read the information in the opened dialog box and decide if it is safe to stop this service. The information provided in the Service Name and Service Description columns will give you a good idea about what the service is doing and the potential impact that terminating it will have.

  6. If you decide to stop the service, all you need to do is hit the Stop Service button in the dialog box and you're done. Simple, isn't it?

If the high CPU use is caused by any service that is critical to the operation of the system, you should not stop that service. However, as an alternative you can try rebooting your laptop. This will usually stop the problem.

This is just one of the potential benefits of Battery Life Maximizer. You can learn more about what this simple program can achieve here.

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