How to Troubleshoot SVCHOST.EXE 100% CPU Usage Problems

If you have noticed that your Windows XP, Vista, or 7 PC is running slowly and that SVCHOST.EXE is taking 100% of your single core CPU system (or 50% of your dual core CPU system), this is the article for you!

SVCHOST.EXE is a generic “host” or holder of services which run from .DLL’s.  Basically .DLL’s are small programs that other programs use, as opposed to .EXE programs which users run.

The biggest problem in diagnosing SVCHOST.EXE issues is that one SVCHOST, can and usually does, run many services.  Even worse, there are always many SVCHOST.EXE’s running in the PROCESSES tab of task manager.

Follow these steps to determine what your computer is really doing with SVCHOST.

  1. To begin you need to know which one has the problem, so start a TASK MANAGER, click the PROCESSES tab, then click VIEW, SELECT COLUMNS and put a check mark into PID (PROCESS IDENTIFIER)
  2. Click on the letters CPU at the top of the CPU column so that it sorts by highest CPU usage, then note the PID of the SVCHOST that is causing the issue.
  3. Click START, RUN, CMD to start a command interpreter box
  4. Type tasklist /svc to display a list of services being run.  Scroll through the list until you find the offending PID.  You may also find tasklist /FI “PID eq processID” useful.  Below is a screen shot of my tasklist:

    SVCHOST.EXE Diagnose 100% CPU Issue Screen Shot

  5. Start disabling the services from the SVCHOST which is consuming your CPU.  Keep a TASK MANAGER open on the PERFORMACE tab and watch for the CPU to drop to normal (near zero) as you shut down services. For instance, in the case above, if PID 1056 were taking the CPU, I would launch SERVICES.MSC, stop the BITS service; wait 15 seconds and see what happens the the CPU. If that did not solve the issue, I would disable the COMPUTER BROWSER service, wait 15 seconds and see what happens to the CPU, if that did not work I would disable the CERTIFICATE SERVICES, wait 15 seconds, and see what happens to the CPU…
  6. Once you have determined which service is consuming your CPU, you can google the hell out of it to determine the real issue.

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