The fact that you can find a computer in almost 85% of homes in the US makes them very present in our day-to-day lives. They’re a boon to our society, but they have some drawbacks too. We’re sure you’ve had to troubleshoot some computer problems yourself by asking Google desperate questions to make some amateur repairs.
One of the most common issues is having high CPU activity. It’s also one of the problems that don’t have a clear answer, as there can be multiple culprits. We’ll help you figure out where the issue lies, so read on as we learn how to fix high CPU usage.
Diagnosing Your High CPU Activity
If your issue isn’t too severe, then diagnosing what is causing your CPU usage to spike so high shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re on Windows, you might have heard of the task manager, which will be our first stop. We’ll cover some solutions for all computer users with Mac CPU usage problems later, so skip ahead if you need to.
Opening Task Manager
You can access the task manager through the Ctrl + Alt + Delete key combination, which should give you a list of options on a blank screen. Task manager should be at the bottom of that list, but if you can’t get it to appear, we’ve got another way.
Holding the Windows key and pressing R should pull up the run window. In the text entry box, type “taskmgr” without the quotes.
Using Task Manager to Find CPU Issues
Now that you’ve got the task manager open, you must select the processes tab. Here, you’ll see a detailed list of everything that is running on your computer and diagnostic information. One of those diagnostic tabs should show the CPU usage.
The tab will have an indicator showing how much of your CPU is in use, which could be 100% on an overloaded system. You can click the tab to sort the list by the heaviest applications on the CPU.
Once you’ve got a list of what’s causing the problem, you can move on to the next step. If there’s nothing you recognize in the list of processes, or if there’s anything with a strange name, consider skipping ahead to the section on viruses and malware.
Disable Resource Hogging Apps
In Windows 10 and later, you can disable apps hogging all of your system resources from the task manager. Just click the startup tab, and a list of everything that opens on your computer when it boots up will present itself to you.
You’ll see that it documents how heavy each app is on your system resources, which should correspond to some of the items you saw in the processes list. Even if it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to disable anything with a “high” startup impact.
After doing this, you can restart the computer and open the task manager again to see if you’ve managed to make a dent in the high CPU usage.
What to Do If CPU Usage Is Still High?
If you’ve disabled all the heavy applications from startup and you still feel like the computer is slow and sluggish, or you can still see high CPU usage, we need to dig a little deeper into the issue to lower CPU activity.
There’s a chance it could be something malevolent at play, like viruses or malware, but there’s one last stop before we jump to that conclusion.
Check Windows Update
Since Windows will update your operating system in the background, it can chew up your resources without you knowing it. This shouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances, but if there’s a significant update on a slower system, it can take far longer and cause much more slowdown.
Windows Update should be available from your settings or by searching for it so that you can take a quick peek to see if it’s the cause of your CPU woes.
Your System May Have an Infection
Windows now have an anti-virus solution installed by default, but there’s a chance something might lurk on your system without your knowledge. Go to Windows Defender and do a manual scan to eliminate the possibility.
You might also want to find a free trial of some anti-malware software, to be extra sure. Don’t install multiple virus checkers, however. Multiple real-time virus scanning software installed will use even more of your precious CPU.
Dealing with High CPU Usage on a Mac
If you’re on a Mac, you will have a far easier time addressing this problem. In most cases, high CPU usage on a Mac is because of having too many apps open. If you’ve closed them all and there are still issues, there are plenty of fantastic tools which you can download to help you clean up your system.
You can head to https://setapp.com/how-to/close-apps-on-mac to get a better idea of which apps can help.
Give Your Computer a Spring Clean
That slowdown and high CPU activity could be because your computer needs a metaphorical spring clean. When your device is weighed down with pointless apps and bursting with junk, it should be no surprise that it’s struggling. Giving it a little love and cleaning it up can make all the difference.
Computers are delicate machines, despite what we put them through. Maintenance is vital if you want to keep everything running smoothly. If you’d like more advice on cleaning your system or some technology advice in general, then keep reading the blog!