How to fix System Idle Process high CPU usage on Windows 10?

February 4, 2019 |

greater than 11 minutes

We can safely assume you ended up on this page because you had opened the Task Manager app and hadn’t liked what you saw as the CPU usage figure for the System Idle Process. Perhaps, your system had been freezing (or failing to respond), and these operational struggles were what forced you to investigate the problem in the first place.

If the Task Manager app on your computer constantly records the System Idle Process using up to 99% (or thereabouts) of your CPU resources, you might have a problem. Nothing is set in stone yet, though.

What is the System Idle Process in Windows 10?

The System Idle Process is a top-level process designed to record the proportion of available CPU resources at any given point in time. In other words, this process tells users what percentage of their processor resources is idle. The process more or less operates as a program in the background without any input from users.

In theory, a high CPU usage figure for the System Idle Process should not be a cause for concern. If you see such but your PC runs normally, then all is fine. After all, a high percentage translates to your processor being idle or not exerting itself to do work.

Now, if your computer is functioning poorly or struggling with operations (especially when you have nothing serious running), there is a good chance something else in the background is the cause of your trouble. The problems might have something to do with a corrupted, incompatible or outdated device driver. They might be a result of the operations of a third-party application. Even viruses or malware might be responsible.

In other words, if slowdowns or performance downgrades accompany the high CPU usage figure, then those events are hardly coincidental. They are likely to be related. In this guide, we will carefully examine the intricacies of the issue and show you how to decrease the CPU usage caused by System Idle Process activities. You will also learn how to fix similar issues that are unrelated to the operations carried out by the process in view.

How to fix problems associated with System Idle Process high CPU usage

It is best you go through the solutions we have provided in the order they appear below. This way, you stand a better chance of reaching the appropriate fix to your problem in little time.

1. Disable some startup programs:

Every time Windows boots up, your system launches a good number of applications without any input from you (or without your knowledge). These operations are executed in the background, so you are unlikely to notice them generally.

Now, you are going to set up Windows to prevent your computer from launching those programs during your next startup. Perhaps, if you stop the problematic or incompatible third-party applications from operating on your PC, the issues associated with the high CPU usage will go away.

Follow these instructions to disable the programs:

  • Right-click on the Windows Start icon on your desktop screen. You should see a list of programs or options from which you must select Task Manager.
  • Navigate to the Startup tab (by clicking on it). There, Windows will display the startup applications. To disable a program, right-click on it, then click on the Disable option.
  • Once you are done disabling every startup program listed in the Task Manager program window, you can exit the app and restart your PC.
  • Now, check if the issues you struggled with earlier persist. If you notice significant improvements in the state of your computer and its performance, then you have more or less confirmed that third-party programs played a part in causing the issues you faced.

At this stage, you must move on to identify the specific application responsible. You can do this by disabling your startup applications (one at a time) and taking note of the changes that occur. If you have numerous startup applications, you might work faster by placing the programs in groups and testing them in that manner.

If you do everything correctly, you will eventually identify or isolate the program responsible for the high CPU usage figure for the System Idle Process.

2. Disable some services:

If you continue to experience the same problems even after you got rid of some applications from the list of startup programs, then the next logical step demands that you perform similar operations on services that operate on your computer.

Certain services are also programmed to start up or initiate their components during a Windows bootup. Here, you are going to disable third-party services to find if any one of them has something to do with the problem at hand. The chances of you identifying a problematic program or service are reasonably high (especially if you recently added a new application or installed a fresh update).

We will guide you to disable third-party services only. We want you to leave Windows services untouched because they are far too important. Go through these steps:

  • Tap the Windows button on your PC’s keyboard to bring up the Windows Start menu screen. You can get the same result by clicking on the Windows icon.

You must type msconfig into the text box present (to do a quick search for this keyword). System Configuration (Desktop app) should be the first item on the result list. Click on it or hit the Enter key.

  • Once the System Configuration program window comes up, you have to navigate to the Services tab. There, click on the checkbox for Hide all Microsoft services to select this parameter.
  • Now, click on the Disable all button. Windows will now act to disable the currently listed services (the ones employed by third-party applications on your PC).
  • Click on the Apply button, then click on the OK button to complete things. Close all open program windows, then restart your computer.
  • Verify that your system is now running smoothly. Launch the Task Manager app and check if any changes have occurred given the work you did.

If you noticed significant improvements in your PC performance after you disabled the third-party services, you would do well to test each service to identify the one causing issues for you (the same way we recommended you test the apps in the previous fix).

3. Fix driver problems:

Drivers control and manage the interactions between hardware components and software (or the operations involving them) on Windows PCs. If your computer is using a faulty (or corrupted or outdated or incompatible) driver, serious system problems are bound to spring up.

Perhaps, the high CPU usage rate for the System Idle Process problem is related to faults involving your drivers. In that case, the problem at hand is just the first of the many issues that are supposed to come up.

To fix driver problems, you must correctly identify the faulty drivers and replace them appropriately. If you suspect a driver to be problematic, we recommend you try disabling the device the driver in view. This way, you get to test your hypothesis. Things might even get better. Check out the instructions below:

  • First, you must open the Device Manager application. Use this combination of keys: Windows button + Letter X key

The applications or options that make up the Power User menu should be visible by now. Click on Device Manager.

  • Go through the list of categories (each category houses certain devices) — double-click on a category to expand it. After you find the device you intend to disable for the time being, you must right-click on it, then click on the Disable device button.

A dialog box or small window seeking confirmation for the operation might come up. Click on the OK or Yes button there (to give Windows the go-ahead).

  • Once your system is done rendering the device inactive, you can quickly move on to check the state of your PC.

If the high CPU usage problem began to manifest not long after you installed a driver update or new device, you must try reversing the operation and see how things go. The Roll-back driver option will come in handy here. The instructions below will guide you to roll back a driver (bring back the old software for the device):

  • Open the Device Manager app (check the first step in the previous operation if you do not know how to do this).
  • Go through the categories and click on the one that is housing the device whose driver you intend to roll back from here. Once you have found the device, you must double-click on it.
  • The Properties window for the chosen device should be up by now. Navigate to its Driver tab (by clicking on it).

The Roll back driver button should be visible. Click on it.

If the Roll back driver button is missing from its designated location or if you find it grayed out, then your PC most likely does not have the old driver software (or your computer cannot access it). Perhaps, the necessary files have been removed. Their data might have fallen to corruption. It is hard to tell.

  • If you successfully rolled back the driver as we recommended, you must restart your PC to let the old driver take charge of things. After the reboot, you can now check if the problems you encountered earlier are active.

If you had no reason to attempt the disabling and roll-back operations (or if you got no positive result from using them), you must consider updating your drivers. This procedure is the next logical move as regards the resolution of problems affecting drivers.

We recommend you update all your device drivers. This way, the chances of you failing to replace a faulty, outdated or corrupted driver become as few as possible. Depending on the driver involved, the operation to find an updated version might turn out to be a complicated or easy process.

Well, since you are going to update the software for numerous drivers, we can safely assume you will encounter a considerable number of complications. We implore you to install Auslogics Driver Updater. This program will provide all the assistance you need. It will help you download and install the updated versions of the necessary drivers.

At this stage, assuming you are done downloading and installing all the required driver updates, you must move on to restart your PC as you have done many times in the past already. Once the new drivers become active, you must verify the state of things.

4. Make adjustments to your system settings:

In the previous solutions, we guided you to make alterations to third-party programs, services, and even drivers to force changes that may resolve the high CPU usage problem due to the System Idle Process activities. Well, since you are still struggling with the same problem, it is time we directed you to adjust your own system’s configuration to get rid of the issue.

Go through these steps:

  • Open the Control Panel program: Right-click on the Windows Start icon that is always present on your desktop screen. The Power User menu (consisting of the listed applications and options) should be visible now.

Click on Control Panel.

  • Input Performance into the text field located on the top-right corner of the Control Panel program window (to initiate a quick search using this keyword).

From the displayed list of results, you must click on Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

  • The Performance Options window should be up and running on your screen by now. You should end up on the Visual Effects tab.

Go through the parameters there. You should see the settings that Windows can employ to control the appearance and performance of your PC.

Click on the radio button for Adjust for best performance (to select and use this option).

  • Click on the OK button, then close the windows and apps you launched. Finally, you must launch the Task Manager app and see if this configuration change has had any effect on the problem you are dealing with currently.

5. Disable Windows 10 tips:

We are not exactly sure of how this operation causes the problem to go away, but if some assumptions can be made, we perceive the notification system on Windows has something to do with the high CPU usage. Perhaps, the setup got buggy, or something might have broken its code.

A good number of users stopped experiencing issues after they prevented their system from displaying tips. Since the stated operation is completely harmless, we recommend you give it a go using the instructions we have provided below:

  • First, you must open the Settings program. You can use this combination of keys: Windows button + Letter I key.
  • Now, if the Settings window is up, you must click on System (from the menu list displayed), then click on Notifications & Actions (the options on the next screen).
  • Now, you should see the Show me tips about Windows option. Toggle it off (by clicking on its button). It is time you checked for changes or improvements.

6. Disable RuntimeBroker through the Windows Registry:

Microsoft designed RuntimeBroker as a Windows process to help users manage the permissions afforded to applications that come from the Windows Store (also known as Microsoft Store in recent times). In theory, the process is well capable of doing its job without using up a significant amount of the available CPU resources.

Faults do occur, however. In problematic scenarios, poorly-coded or damaged apps might force the process to use up far more resources than necessary, and the high CPU usage rate (which is the problem you are dealing with currently) is the result of such events. Other consequences might include a high memory usage rate, extreme hard disk usage rate, and so on.

To fix the described issue, you have to do away with RuntimeBroker. Well, you are unlikely to notice a change when it is not operating. Furthermore, if its incapacitation results in your problem being resolved, you will consider your action the right move. See the steps below:

  • First, you must launch the Registry Editor application. Use this combination of keys to bring up the Run app: Windows button + Letter R key.

Type regedit into the text field available on the small Run app program window, then execute the inputted code with a tap of the Enter key.

  • Now, if the Registry app program window is up, starting from the items displayed on the top-left corner of the window, you must navigate through the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ TimeBrokerSvc
  • In your current destination, from the list of entries displayed, you must click on Start to edit it. Replace whatever you find in its field for DWORD value with 4.
  • Click on the OK button. Windows will now act to save the changes you made on the entry. You are free to close all applications and reboot your computer. Once the changes take effect, the RuntimeBroker process will no longer be allowed to operate, and your system might run better than before.

Other things you can try to resolve the high CPU usage problem and related performance issues involving the System Idle Process

Some of the fixes below in fewer details might succeed where the more detailed solutions have failed. You have nothing to lose from attempting them anyway.

7. Perform scans for viruses and malware:

If you are still struggling to find out what is causing your CPU usage rate to spike or if you are yet to determine the source of the performance issues, it is time you checked if viruses and malware have anything to do with your problem.

Open your antivirus app and use its scan options to check every directory (or file) on your PC for malicious content (or code). If you end up not being satisfied with the results you obtain (or if you want to confirm things), you can run additional scans for threats, using a top security app like Auslogics Anti-Malware.

8. Try to repair corrupted system files:

Perhaps, the high disk usage rate issue is a result of important Windows components being damaged. System utilities, in general, struggle to do their job correctly when their code or database is corrupted. In other words, in the given scenario, inefficiencies creep in, which means your PC requires more resources than usual to perform standard tasks.

To fix the stated issue, you have to execute codes for the SFC (System File Checker) utility in an elevated Command Prompt window. If the first operation fails to do enough to resolve the issue, you can go a step further and run scans, using the DISM tool, then move on to redo the operation, using the SFC tool.

9. Upgrade your PC hardware components:

In case you somehow realize that no software operation can resolve the high disk usage rate problem plaguing your PC, you must get better hardware components for your computer. A more powerful processor and RAM sticks with increased capacity will go a long way in making things better.

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