How to fix WMI provider host high CPU usage on Windows 10?

By ivan.diskin | March 16, 2020 |

greater than 18 minutes

The Windows Management Instrumentation Provider Host process is also known as WmiPrvSE.exe. This process serves as the host for the Windows Management Instrumentation Provider Service. Wmiprvse.exe is a legitimate system process created by Microsoft Corporation. It performs a very important task on the OS, and this function isn’t transferable. This means that Wmiprvse.exe is fundamental to how Windows works.

Windows Management Instrumentation is a feature that is used to serve applications on your system with information that they require about the OS. Upon request, the correct WMI provider will provide this information. This feature can be used to access information about the boot device configuration (BDC) and the Domain Name Service (DNS) or view entries from the Event Log.

All of this is pretty obscure, as far as normal computer usage goes. In fact, you don’t really need to know about this as long as Wmiprvse.exe does its job simply and quietly in the background.

However, this is Windows 10 and things are never this simple. Many users have complained bitterly about Wmiprvse.exe using up most of the CPU. Some have related it using as high as 60-90% of the total processor power.

This, in most cases, is abnormal behavior. Though Wmiprvse.exe may show an occasional spike in CPU usage when an application is requesting data, prolonged high CPU use, however, points to something being wrong somewhere.

If you’ve been experiencing issues with WMI Provider Host taking up a lot of system resources such as processor, disk, and memory, you’ve come to the right place for a fix. We will explain why the genuine Wmiprvse.exe isn’t a virus and why disabling it is a very bad idea. However, we will provide working solutions that will help you eradicate the high CPU usage problem with this process.

Is WmiPrvSE.exe Malware?

The short answer is no. The Windows Management Instrumentation Provider Service process is as far from being a virus as a file can be. The genuine file is totally safe. It is a system file and does something very important as part of the OS.

Some antivirus programs give a false positive, misleading many users into believing the process is a virus. Moreover, the high CPU usage issue on Windows 10 has led to the same opinion. However, we state categorically that Wmiprvse.exe isn’t a virus and shouldn’t be treated as such.

As long as you find the process file in C:/Windows/System32, the process is safe and genuine. Therefore, instead of looking for ways to quarantine it, your attention should turn toward the solutions we’ve provided below to solve the spike in CPU usage caused by this process.

Why Is WmiPrvSE.exe Using So Much CPU?

Most of the time, the footprint of this process is barely noticeable. However, in the course of passing information to the applications that request it, the process often uses more CPU than it generally does.

This is normal so long as the CPU level goes back down after some time. However, prolonged high CPU usage is usually caused by a bug or perhaps a virus. It is also possible that the service got stuck while retrieving the needed information, causing the spike.

How to Fix WMI Provider Host High CPU Usage

So WmiPrvSE.exe is running amok in Task Manager, using up a lot of resources. Perhaps you’ve tried the tried and trusted End Task method but that doesn’t seem to help as the process simply runs itself again and resumes using plenty of CPU.

WMI Provider Host is, by default, one of the processes that don’t use much CPU. This is because, as has been pointed out already, it isn’t really doing much most of the time. From time to time, it may stir itself from the doldrums of Task Manager and borrow some power when it needs to carry out a task required of it by another program. Other than that, the WMI Provider Host process is as chill as they come.

Still, it is a fact that the Windows Management Provider Instrumentation Service has been using lots of CPU on many users’ computers. This is naturally inconvenient, especially if the user’s system needs the resources to be more evenly spread across multiple open applications or if the hardware cannot handle excess strain from high CPU usage.

If you see WmiPrvSE.exe showing extreme resource usage in Task Manager, the fixes presented below are at your disposal. You may not even need to try them all before rectifying the issue. Chances are the first or second one you attempt will prove sufficient. Even so, you can either work your way from top to bottom or jump straight to the solution you believe is more likely to give your CPU the much-needed relief from abnormal WMI Provider Host behaviour.

Scan the Computer with Auslogics Anti-Malware

Earlier, we identified malware attacks as a prime cause of WMI Provider Host high CPU usage. That wasn’t an understatement. It is fair to say that a high proportion of abnormal process behaviour in Task Manager is actually a direct result of malicious programs. Hackers use several clever ways to get their malicious code onto the machine, giving them leeway to do whatever they want on the host computer.

Several different types of malware cause high CPU usage, and each one is as dangerous as the next. First, there is replacement malware that replaces the genuine WmiPrvSE.exe with a fake one. This variant somehow gets into the Windows directory, dwells herein and starts affecting the computer from there. There is also a virus program that installs itself onto the machine and starts prompting processes like WmiPrvSE.exe to run unnecessarily, thus triggering high CPU usage.

Irrespective of the type, malware is dangerous for the machine and you should quickly delete it. With persistent resource usage of WmiPrvSE.exe and other suspicious behaviour of the program, you can conclude that it is either infected by malware or being controlled by it.

What you should do is use trusted security software to scan your computer. Not just a simple scan but a thorough or deep scan is recommended. This will take longer but is more effective in rooting out destructive items from the machine.

Windows Defender might be many people’s first choice, but our recommendation is Auslogics Anti-Malware. The tool uses advanced security technology to scan your machine and eliminate all dangerous items, no matter how cleverly they are disguised. You can also schedule deep scans for any time of the day convenient for you.

When you’ve successfully downloaded and installed Auslogics Anti-Malware, simply run a deep scan with the program. It will scan system memory for dangerous files and code that could be running in the background. Everything from the registry to auto-start items and the Windows root folder will be checked to ensure device integrity.

Once the program discovers an infectious file, it presents the discovery for your perusal. All you have to do is click the button to permanently delete the files.

When you’ve cleaned up your system with this tool, reboot the machine and observe the behaviour of WmiPrvSE.exe in Task Manager. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be exhibiting any more abnormal behaviour.

Run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter in Safe Mode with Networking

The System Maintenance Troubleshooter is a tool that helps with the automatic running of computer maintenance tasks. It is also useful in resolving issues that are difficult to pin down. Many users have testified to its helpfulness in dealing with the Wmiprvse.exe high CPU usage issue.

While running the System Maintenance Troubleshooter normally is no problem, it is better to run it in the safe mode environment. Specifically, it is recommended to run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter in Safe Mode with Networking on Windows 10. Doing so lets you carry out troubleshooting in a basic state. The potential for interference from third-party drivers and files is absent in this mode.

With Safe Mode with Networking, you can tell at a glance whether the basic files and drivers that came pre-installed on the system have something to do with the issue you are facing. So, if you don’t experience any high CPU usage from WmiPrvSE.exe (a system file) in Safe Mode with Networking, the issue is probably related to one of the drivers and files disabled in this mode.

Starting your PC in Safe Mode with Networking isn’t hard at all. Find the process below:

First, open the Settings app in Windows 10. Press the Windows Logo key to display the Start Menu. Next, click the Gear icon, which represents Settings, and the app will be launched.

From within the app, select the Update & Security option, which is easy to spot on the home page. Next, select Recovery from the left menu pane of the Update & Security window. This will open a window with a list of recovery options.

Under the “Advanced options” option, select Restart now. The machine will restart and boot into Windows Recovery Environment.

From the blue “Choose an Option” screen, select Troubleshoot. Select “Advanced options” on the next screen and then Startup Settings on the screen after that. Click the Restart button on the bottom right, and Windows will reboot, this time into the Startup Settings options screen. From here, just press 5 on the number row or number pad, or F5 in the function keys row, to boot into Safe Mode with Networking.

When the machine finishes booting up, log in with an administrator account and open an elevated Command Prompt. This is easy: simply right-click the Start Menu icon and choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the Quick Access Menu.

Now, you’re ready to resolve the WmiPrvSE.exe high CPU usage issue using the System Maintenance Troubleshooter.

In the elevated CMD window, type/copy and paste the following and hit the Enter key:

msdt.exe -id MaintenanceDiagnostic

The System Maintenance Troubleshooter will be launched. Hit the Next button to initiate the search for errors it can fix. It will check everything checkable and suggest potential fixes if it finds any. You will need to follow the onscreen instructions to carry out the solutions suggested.

Sometimes, the System Maintenance Troubleshooter completes the scan and informs you that no changes were necessary. In this case, you can run the System Performance Troubleshooter instead.

In the elevated Command Prompt window, which you haven’t closed, run the following command:

msdt.exe /id PerformanceDiagnostic

This command launches a related tool, the System Performance Troubleshooter. Click Next on the troubleshooter window as usual and let it run some checks. When it is done, assuming it found an issue and has suggested some solutions, apply the solutions and then click Close.

When all is resolved, you can now exit Safe Mode. Simply restart your device once more, and Windows will boot up normally.

Repair Corrupt Files with DISM and SFC

The System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) tools work in conjunction to repair missing or corrupt system files and the overall system image. They’re using scanning solutions for WmiPrvSE.exe errors that might have caused an issue with the file itself.

Since it is not recommended to replace damaged system files with solitary copies from the internet, this method makes the most sense. Windows advises installing an update or reinstalling the OS if a system file is missing or problematic. Using the SFC and DISM tools is a happy middle-of-the-road solution. With them, any faulty file is automatically fixed or replaced with a fresh, uncorrupted version.

To use both tools to restore normal activity, follow the steps below:

  1. Launch an elevated Command Prompt window. Select Command Prompt (Admin) from the Quick Access Menu after pressing the Windows Logo and X keys at the same time.
  2. Next, run this command in the open CMD window:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Watch and wait as the tool carries out the scan of the Windows image on your machine. It will apply whichever repairs it deems necessary and return a message that the operation is finished.

  1. Now, it’s time to run a full scan with System File Checker. Run this command in the elevated CMD window:

sfc /scannow

  1. The scan will begin, and you will notice a verification progress bar in the window. Do not attempt to close your machine while the operation is in progress. It might take a while, but patience pays. It is recommended not to open any programs either.
  2. When the scan is completed, you will get a result. If you receive a message that “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them,” it means the tool has successfully fixed the missing and damaged files.

Now, you can reboot the system with confidence that the WmiPrvSE.exe issue has become a thing of the past.

Restart Windows Management Instrumentation Service

Earlier, it was explained that WmiPrvSE.exe hosts a service that provides critical functions in Windows 10. Therefore, when the process exhibits high CPU usage, deleting the file is never an option. Instead, should the problem persist, you can restart the Windows Management Instrumentation Service and see whether that solves the issue right there and then.

Doing this is relatively easy. You just need to find the Windows Management Instrumentation service and restart it:

  1. Press the Windows logo and R buttons at the same time to launch the Run box.
  2. In this box, type “services.msc” (without quotes) and click OK or hit the Enter key.
  3. When the Services window opens, scroll down the list of services till you find the Windows Management Instrumentation service.
  4. At this point, you can do one of two things that more or less amount to the same thing. First, you can right-click the service and click Restart from the context menu.
  5. Alternatively, right-click the service and click Stop. After a few moments, right-click the service and click Start.

After this, open Task Manager and keep monitoring the WmiPrvSE.exe process. Ensure that it is no longer displaying abnormally high CPU usage.

Restart Services Associated with WMI Provider Host

By now, it should be clear that the main service associated with the WMI Provider Host process is the Windows Management Instrumentation service. However, it isn’t the only one. Although WmiPrvSE.exe high CPU usage can be caused by the WMI service, the other components that load within the WMI Provider Host can be equally culpable.

Therefore, if restarting the Windows Management Instrumentation service doesn’t work, perhaps restarting the associated services will.

The associated services — some of which are encoded as dynamic link library (DLL) files — are IP Helper Service, Windows Security Centre Service, and Windows Management Instrumentation Service.

First, you must stop all three services. After that, start each one, in reverse order. It is best to do this with an elevated Command Prompt. Here’s how:

  1. Launch Command Prompt as an administrator. Select Command Prompt (Admin) from the Quick Access Menu (Windows Logo key+X).
  2. Run each of the following commands in the elevated CMD window. Don’t forget to press Enter after entering each line:

net stop iphlpsvc

net stop wscsvc

net stop Winmgmt

  • Next, run each of the following commands in the elevated CMD window. Don’t forget to press Enter after entering each line:

net start Winmgmt

net start wscsvc

net start iphlpsvc

A reboot is a must at this point. After the restart, monitor the WMI Provider Host process in Task Manager. In most cases, the CPU usage for the process should drop back down to normal levels.

Use the Event Viewer to Isolate the Issue

The Event Viewer is a tool that lets users view the event logs for each operation on a computer. This way, the source of errors during a process or operation can be discovered. This method can be applied to solving the WMI Provider Host High CPU usage bug as well.

  1. The first thing to do is launch the Event Viewer. From the Quick Access Menu, select Event Viewer. It is near the top of the menu list.
  2. In the Event Viewer window, click the View tab to expand the options contained in it.
  3. Select the Show Analytics and Debug Logs option. This will expand the Event Viewer menu in the left pane.
  4. Find the Application and Services Log in the left menu pane and click to expand the contents.
  5. Navigate to Microsoft > Windows > WMI-Activity.
  6. Double-click on WMI-Activity and select Operational. This will open the operational logs for the WMI service.
  7. Check for recent error events in the operational log. Click each one and note down the number next to ClientProcessId in the General tab of each event’s specification.
  8. Next, open Task Manager and select the Services tab.
  9. Check the items listed in the Services tab. You’re looking for an item with the same Process ID (PID) as the ones you’ve isolated in the Event Viewer.
  10. The program with the matching PID is probably responsible for WmiPrvSE.exe high resource usage. If the culprit service is a system process or a process associated with a native program, disable the process. If the service belongs to a third-party tool, first disable the service, then go to Control Panel and uninstall the parent program.

That, dear reader, should be that. However, if the issue with the WMI Provider Host doesn’t go away despite everything you’ve already tried, there’s one more solution to be tried.

Perform a Clean Boot to Isolate the Faulty Application

Clean Boot in Windows 10 is the ultimate method to isolate drivers, startup programs and applications that are causing issues, including, but not limited to, high CPU usage by certain processes, inability for apps to load, random system glitches and crashes, and other errors in that vein. Compared to Safe Mode, Clean Boot is a Windows state attained with the inactivity of most drivers and startup programs.

With Clean Boot, you have a choice of which drivers and startup items to load when Windows boots up. This makes it easier to troubleshoot whatever is causing WmiPrvSE.exe to gobble up most of the CPU. By enabling and disabling specific programs until a positive result is attained, the culprit behind the issue can be found and removed once and for all.

Although the process of troubleshooting high CPU usage errors through Clean Boot can look daunting like scaling Mount Everest, the reward is worth the painstaking effort, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out, really.

Here are the steps you should follow in fishing out your WmiPrvSE.exe high CPU usage issue via Clean Boot. Before you take the plunge, please pay attention to the warning by Microsoft that this method shouldn’t be tried if the computer in question is a work computer connected to a network. Work computers can be bricked if this method is used.

  1. First, you must be logged in to the computer through an administrator account.
  2. Next, the System Configuration Utility has to be launched. To achieve this, open the Run box by pressing the Windows logo and R keys at the same time. Then, type “msconfig” (without quotes) and click OK or hit the Enter key button.
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Tick the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox on the bottom left. This is done to remove all Microsoft services from the equation.
  5. Next, all third-party services need to be disabled. To achieve this, click the Disable All button.
  6. Now, it’s time to disable third-party startup items. Click the Startup tab.
  7. Click the Open Task Manager link.
  8. Disable each item in the Startup tab in Task Manager. Right-click the item and click Disable.
  9. Ext Task Manager and return to the System Configuration window.
  10. Click the OK button in the Startup tab.
  11. Reboot your computer.

Congratulations, you have triggered the Clean Boot feature in Windows 10. Upon a reboot, you should log in as an administrator. You will notice (or perhaps you won’t, but that doesn’t matter) that you’re running the OS in a “clean” environment. The background processes and startup items that you previously disabled won’t be loaded here. This means that none of them is active. Therefore, you will be able to safely troubleshoot the WMI Provider Host High CPU Usage problem without interference

Now, you have to open Task Manager and monitor the activity there. If the WmiPrvSE.exe process is still displaying high CPU usage in this environment, your options are limited. You can try a system restore to bring the OS back to a state before you started getting the issue.

However, if the WMI Provider Host process is now running normally, it means that one of the disabled programs is responsible for the bug. This can be either a startup item or one of the background services. You’re now left with the task of finding out which service or startup item that is and taking the appropriate steps once it has been isolated.

Though the process may seem tedious, it is straightforward as well. Just a series of elimination till the culprit item is found.

Here’s what to do:

  1. In the clean boot environment when logged in with an administrator account, type msconfig in the Start Menu and select System Configuration when it shows up in the results.
  2. Click the Services tab.
  3. Tick the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox on the bottom left. This is done to remove all Microsoft services from the equation.
  4. Tick the top half of the third-party services listed in the Services window to select them. You may take a screenshot to help you remember which services you’ve selected.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Restart.

After logging in again, the background processes you just enabled will be loaded along with Windows. So they will be active and have the ability to influence any action you take on the PC.

Now, open Task Manager again and observe what is going on. What you do next depends on what is happening with the WMI Provider Host process.

If the WMI Provider Host process keeps showing an unreasonably high level of CPU usage in Task Manager, it follows that one of the services you have just enabled must be responsible. Fortunately, you have a smaller pool of services to whittle down.

  1. Open the System Configuration utility window again and return to the Services tab.
  2. Tick the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox on the bottom left. This is done to remove all Microsoft services from the equation.
  3. Deselect the half of the services you previously selected and restart your computer.
  4. Check whether the error is still there or is gone.
  5. Keep doing this until you isolate the cause to a single service.

However, if Task Manager shows that the WMI Provider Host process is running normally this time and using a reasonable proportion of the computer’s processor, it follows that if a service is responsible, it must be one of the services in the bottom half of the services window. Your attention must turn there, therefore.

  1. Open the System Configuration utility window again and return to the Services tab.
  2. Tick the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox on the bottom left. This is done to remove all Microsoft services from the equation.
  3. Deselect ALL the background services you selected earlier.
  4. Tick the bottom half of the third-party services listed in the Services window to select them. You may take a screenshot to help you remember which services you’ve selected.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Restart.

Once again, open Task Manager after the reboot and observe how the WmiPrvSE.exe process behaves. If the WMI Provider Host process still exhibits high CPU usage, you can safely conclude that one of the selected services is responsible. Just keep narrowing the selected services down like before until you find the one responsible.

In the unlikely event that no background service is isolated through this method, it might be that a startup item, rather than a third-party service, is actually responsible for the bug. Therefore, we have to apply the same method above to the items in the Startup tab.

  1. Navigate to the Startup tab in System Configuration.
  2. If there is no entry in the Startup tab, skip this step.
  3. If there are entries in the Startup tab, select the top half of the items on the list.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click Restart.
  6. Now check whether the problem persists. If it does, return to the Startup tab and keep narrowing the selected items down till you isolate the culpable service. If the problem doesn’t persist, return to the Startup tab and isolate the bottom half of the items and see how things go. If the problem now occurs, return to the Startup tab and keep narrowing the selected items down till you isolate the culpable service.

If you’ve already tried all the other solutions here but nothing worked, this method has a high chance of finally solving the bug.

After isolating the culprit, what you do next depends on what the culprit is. If it is a service or startup that belongs to a parent program that you frequently use, you can try installing the latest version of the program.

However, that isn’t a viable option all the time. The version of the program you’re using might already be the latest. In that case, you can just disable the service while retaining the program. This is a good solution if the service doesn’t need to be running for you to make full use of the program.

This is how to disable the isolated startup item or background service. Doing this essentially boots Windows back to normal mode, with the exception that the isolated item alone will not be loaded.

  1. Open the System Configuration utility window.
  2. Navigate to the General tab.
  3. Tick the Normal Startup option to load all device drivers and services.
  4. Click the Services tab.
  5. Remove the tick in the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox. This will make all Microsoft services selectable.
  6. Click Enable all.
  7. Open Task Manager from the Startup tab and enable all the services you previously disabled.
  8. In the Startup tab, enable all the startup items.
  9. Disable the affected service from the Services tab. If it is a startup item, disable it from the Startup tab.
  10. Restart your computer.

With this, you can finally get rid of the WMI Provider Host High CPU Usage issue, which must have been like a millstone around your neck.

Summing Up

The WMI Provider Host process is one of the important Windows processes that need to be running for the optimal functioning of the OS. This means one can’t just disable or delete it if it is showing abnormal resource usage in Task Manager. Instead, you can quickly solve the issue and restore things back to normal with the methods presented here.

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