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Close unused apps
The first piece of advice we can follow involves closing unwanted apps from Task Manager, so as to leave more resources for other programs and processes in use.
To proceed, right-click on the Start menu, press on Activity management-click on More details (if present), and click on the tab Processeswe press on the CPU column to sort the processes by a percentage of processor use and close any applications that consume too much CPU but that we are not using at that precise moment.
We try to avoid closing processes or applications that we do not know or about which we know nothing: we risk doing damage or closing processes that are essential for the proper functioning of Windows. To learn more, we can read our guide on how close unnecessary active Windows processes.
Limitare le app in the background
Most high CPU load problems are caused by background programs – applications that start together with Windows that the user knows nothing about.
To check the applications in the background, right-click on the Start menu, press on Settings click on the menu App we select the menu Start, remove the check mark for applications that we do not want to start with Windows, and restart the PC for the changes to take effect. This procedure is valid for both Windows 10 and Windows 11 since the menus are identical.
Alternatively, we can remove the background processes by opening it again Activity management by pressing on the tab Start by right-clicking on the process we want to deactivate and finally pressing on Disable. To learn more, we can read our guide on how to disable automatic program startup in Windows.
Restore energy savings
Some energy-saving profiles (such as Maximum performance) increase the frequency of the CPU thus causing overheating, slowing of processes, and reduced autonomy (on laptops).
To reduce the high CPU usage we can reset the default energy-saving profile by opening the Start menu, opening the Control Panel, and taking us to the path Hardware and Sound -> Power Options.
After opening this screen make sure to select the profile Balanced, so as to reduce the frequency of the processor. If we had customized this profile in the past we click on the item Change hardware settings next to the profile name Balanced and press on the item Restore default settings for this combination.
On energy saving, we can read our guides on how to enable and disable the Windows 10 power limiter and how to use smart battery savers in Windows 10 and 11 on laptops.
Disable the Superfetch service
Superfetch is a service that allows applications to load content even before opening them. This feature considerably increases CPU usage and, on less performing computers, it is always better to disable it.
To proceed, press the combination on the keyboard WIN+Rdigitiamo services.MSc and, once the service window is open, we identify the service SysMain. Now, all we have to do is double-click on the item, click on Interrupt, and, in the drop-down menu next to the item Startup typewe select the item Disabled; we restart the computer for the changes to take effect.
Cortana is the Windows 10 and Windows 11 voice assistant that can speed up searches and the opening of functions and programs but it can also take up a fair amount of processor when processing requests.
To permanently turn off Cortana on Windows 11 let’s take the path Settings -> Apps -> Apps and Featureswe search in the search field Cortanapress on the three dots next to the name, select Advanced options and we proceed with its deactivation by turning off the switch under the section Runs on login and selecting the item May from the drop-down menu in the section Run the app in the background.
On Windows 10 first of all we remove the Cortana button from the address bar: to proceed, right-click on the taskbar and remove the check mark from the item Cortana. To turn off the voice assistant completely, let’s take the path Settings -> Apps -> Apps and Featureslet’s look for the app Cortanaclick on its name, select the Advanced Options item and turn off the switches next to the items Microphone, App in background e Runs on login.
Wait for the updates to finish
One of the reasons why Windows drastically slows down is installing updates. During this phase the system uses a considerable part of the computer’s resources and, on PCs with a few years on its shoulders, during the updates the computer is totally unusable.
To prevent updates from using all the computer resources, we can rely on the working hours, so as to install the updates only outside the working or working hours (however, we must remember to leave the PC switched on for at least an hour after the ‘business hours, so as to complete the updates).
On Windows 11 we can postpone updates outside of business hours by taking us on the path Settings -> Windows Update -> Advanced Optionsopening the menu Hours of activity and choosing whether to set the hours of activity manually or automatically.
On Windows 10 the activity time can be set by taking us on the path Settings -> Update and Security -> Windows Updateby pressing on the menu Change business hours and finally pressing the key Edit. Also on Windows 10 there is a switch to activate the automatic adjustment of the activity time, so as to leave the computer to choose the best time to proceed with the updates.
Scan your PC for viruses
If all of the above tips have not worked and your computer’s CPU is still under strain, it is likely that a particularly insidious and powerful malware is to blame.
In this case, we can proceed with an antivirus scan by opening the Start menu, typing Windows security by pressing on the menu Virus and threat protection by clicking on Analysis options activating the item Complete analysis, and finally clicking on Start analysis.
If the analysis does not lead to any improvement we advise you to repeat the scan with other security scanners such as for example Malwarebytes.
Other useful scanning tools can be found in our guides on how to remove malware and viruses from the infected computer and how remove hidden viruses on your computer.
High CPU usage will significantly reduce computer performance, making it nearly impossible to start new applications. Luckily with the moderns multi core processors we will hardly fill all the cores but, in some scenarios, the slowdown is so evident that it affects our productivity.
With the advice above we should be able to reduce high CPU usage in almost any scenario, so as to restore the performance we were used to.
If your computer still has a high CPU consumption after following all the suggestions, there is nothing left to do but try to restore the operating system, as seen in our guides on how to reset Windows 10 (Reset PC) and how use system restore in Windows 10 and 11.