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(9 Fixes) How To Fix High CPU Usage [Updated 2022]

How To Fix High CPU Usage

Anyone knows how to do CPR on a computer? 

Because a high CPU usage means your PC’s suffocating. 

Don’t worry, though. 

Your computer can easily last 10x longer than any of us can. 

But even then, we shouldn’t waste any time.

While your PC’s gasping for air, you should quickly…

Read on to find out: 

  • 9 proven ways to fix your high CPU usage issue. 
  • How to do a clean reinstallation of your Windows system. 
  • What causes your CPU usage to be so high (and how to use your PC’s Task Manager).
  • And so much more…

Why is my CPU usage so high?

Your CPU usage is so high because there are too many applications running in the background. Playing video games and opening multiple browser tabs also lead to high CPU usage. Other times, it could be an outdated driver, certain power settings, or malware. Finally, a dirty PC fan may be the issue. 


How to fix high CPU usage – 9 ways


#1: Reset your PC

When’s the last time you gave your PC a moment to breathe? 

Your CPU may be a machine, but it has limits too. 

And if you’re constantly encouraging it to run 24/7, it’s only fair that your CPU starts acting up. 

Fortunately, a simple restart can…

  • Reboot your system to clear any temporary files. 
  • Refresh your CPU and shut down any programs running in the background. 

Think of it as if you’re giving your PC a fresh slate to start over. 

And after the restart, relaunch the programs you were initially running.

Then, monitor your CPU. 

Is it still abnormally high? 

Don’t fret. 

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface. 

And your next best step is to…

#2: Inspect any open processes in your Task Manager

Every time you launch an application on your computer, it draws power from your CPU. 

However, some applications only take a little power while others take massive juice. 

For instance. 

Running MS Word uses low CPU power compared to any video editing software. 

Now, what if you’re running video editing and photo editing applications at the same time? 

There’s no doubt your CPU usage would spike as high as the Eiffel tower. 

Then again, you want to make sure which app exactly draws the most CPU usage. 

And to do that, you’ll need to launch your Task Manager.

Put simply, it’s a tool used to manage processes that are running on your computer, such as:

Think of your Task Manager as how a supervisor is to their employees. 

And what’s one of the required roles as a supervisor? 

To manage each employee, right? 

That being said, your Task Manager works the same way. 

The only difference is it doesn’t manage people. 

Instead, the tool manages your computer’s apps and processes. 

How to launch your PC’s Task Manager and inspect running apps/processes

Step 1: Hit “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” on your keyboard at the same time. 

This’ll launch Task Manager immediately. 

Step 2: In the bottom left, tap on “More details” to display all the information. 

Step 3: Click on the “Processes” tab.

Step 4: Check for any applications or processes that consume a lot of CPU power. 

If you find an app that’s drawing too much power, close the application. 

To do this, simply…

  1. Right-click on the app that’s using a high CPU. 
  2. Select “End task.”
  3. Repeat this process if there are other applications that behave the same way. 

Step 5: Check your background and windows processes

Below “Apps” in your Task Manager, you’ll see background and windows processes. 

Now, you may find a few that could be using a lot of CPU too. 

However, you shouldn’t end these tasks immediately. 

Why? 

Because some are required for your computer to run. 

Not to mention, some of these are tied to your Windows operating system. 

Should you end these tasks by mistake, then you get a frozen PC or laptop

Instead, write down the process filename on a piece of paper or on your phone. 

From here, you can either…

  • Search for it on Google.
  • Show it to a technician when you have your computer inspected. 

#3: Run an antivirus scan

If your instincts told you a virus could’ve caused the high CPU usage, it was a good deduction. 

But first, let’s double-check by running an antivirus scan. 

By default, your PC should have antivirus software installed. 

Some of these might include the following: 

Other programs that are useful for eliminating malware or spyware include:

Make sure to choose “Full Scan” too since a “Quick Scan” isn’t going to find hidden viruses. 

From here, wait for the scan to finish. 

Then, your antivirus software should eliminate the threat and lower your CPU usage. 

#4: Check if your PC’s set to low power mode

Believe it or not, your power settings can affect your CPU usage too. 

How so? 

Say you’re running a heavy program and your PC’s set to low power mode.

What happens next?

Your computer uses more power to keep the heavy application running. 

Luckily, it’s an easy fix: 

  1. Go to your PC’s settings. 
  2. Click on “System.”
  3. Tap “Power & battery.”
  4. Look for “Power mode.”
  5. Try setting it to “Balanced.”

In addition, you should also…

#5: Make sure your power supply’s working properly

I’m not just talking about your wall outlet or plug. 

This mostly refers to your PC or laptop battery. 

Even if your computer indicates it’s charging, that doesn’t always mean it’s working fine. 

Take it from me. 

About a year ago, my CPU usage spiked out of the blue. 

Not to mention, its performance also slowed down. 

All my applications were working fine, but after testing a few games, I realized…

It’s abnormal for a game to run this slow suddenly when it never had problems before. 

Then, lo and behold: it turns out my PC wasn’t receiving enough power to run at 100%. 

In effect, this forced my computer’s CPU and other hardware to work harder than normal. 

After replacing my power supply or battery, the issue went away. 

#6: Update your driver

Update Your Driver

If you use your computer to play video games often, then the issue may be due to your driver. 

Specifically, your graphics card driver. 

Why? 

Because your computer’s CPU takes a major beating when it runs on outdated drivers. 

So, it’s safe to say you should update your graphics card driver right now:

For those using Nvidia GeForce:

  1. Launch Nvidia GeForce on your PC. 
  2. Beside the “Home” tab, click on “Drivers.”
  3. Select “Check for Updates.”
  4. Download and install the new update.

For those using AMD Radeon:

  1. Launch AMD Radeon
  2. Tap the gear icon in the upper-right corner. 
  3. Select “System.”
  4. Click on “Software & Driver.”
  5. Select “Check for Updates.”
  6. Install the new driver update.

#7: Update your Windows program and any software

Earlier, you checked for heavy-running applications by using Task Manager. 

If you noticed an app or program causing the same issue, it might be time for an update.

“Is that really necessary, though?”

Yes – mainly because an older version might have bugs that cause it to behave inappropriately. 

As a result, it affects your CPU’s performance. 

While you’re at it, consider upgrading your current Windows operating system too.

Why? 

Because of other outdated drivers in your system that could be causing an issue, like:

  • Audio driver. 
  • GPU drivers.

In addition, think of this operating system (OS) upgrade as a Windows refresh. 

So if there’s any glitch or software issue causing your OS to act up, an update should clear it. 

#8: Reinstall the Windows operating system

If your CPU usage is still high after trying the fixes above, here’s what you wanna do: 

Give your Windows a clean reinstallation. 

Meaning, it’s as if you’re wiping your entire system clean and rebooting it from scratch. 

Now, take note. 

This fix holds as one of your last resort options. 

And it also means completely wiping all of your installed applications. 

If you have important files, be sure to back them up before doing this. 

To perform a full reinstallation of your Windows program, follow these steps: 

  1. Head to your computer’s settings.
  2. Select “System.”
  3. Click on “Recovery.”
  4. Choose “Reset PC.”
  5. Select the reset option you want to proceed with. 
  6. After the reset and reinstallation, check your CPU usage.

If your CPU’s still behaving like a wild animal, it’s time for a hardware checkup. 

#9: Clean all the dust and debris inside your PC

Did you know dust and debris can cause your PC to overheat and slow down? 

And as a result, your CPU and other components must work overtime. 

Or put it this way. 

Imagine working 12-hour shifts every day for 2 weeks. 

By the 3rd week, you’re probably burnt out. 

Not to mention, using 2x the energy needed to do the same tasks.  

Not exactly pretty, right? 

Well, that’s exactly what you’d see in a PC that’s dirty and dusty AF. 

The point is, you should have it cleaned. 

And at the same time, ask your technician for professional advice. 

You could even show him the list of programs on your Task Manager that use a ton of CPU power. 

From there, you should be able to find a solution for your high CPU usage issue. 

How to fix high CPU usage when playing games?

To fix high CPU usage when playing games, close any running background apps first. 

If you’re not using the program anymore, this only adds more work to your CPU. 

Running a game like Valorant while leaving your AutoCad software on isn’t healthy for your CPU.

Second, check for any graphic card driver updates. 

And finally, tweak your in-game settings. 

For example. 

If your current game is running on…

  • Max video resolution.
  • Best performance settings.
  • Highest quality game configurations.

These all mean your CPU also has to pump out more juice to keep your game running. 

As a result, your CPU’s working overtime to handle all your game preferences.

Now, if tweaking your settings didn’t solve the issue, there are 2 more things you can do: 

  • Reinstall the game. 
  • Inspect your power supply for any issues.