The situation is familiar to countless Windows users: They're in a groove at work, firing off e-mails, crafting documentation, and even blogging on their personal site during breaktime, when suddenly, something takes over 99 percent of the CPU, slowing it to a virtual standstill. A quick look at the invaluable Process Explorer (or the standard Windows Task Manager) indicates that a process called svchost.exe is using all that CPU. What's more, there's one main CPU offender. Multiple versions of svchost.exe are running in the background and hogging CPU cycles. What is it? Is it spyware? Hackers? Terrorists?
Although there are historical cases of malware using svchost.exe, because of its common presence, it's most likely just Windows being Windows. Svchost.exe is a generic process name for Windows services that run from Microsoft DLLs (dynamically linked libraries). Each of those instances of svchost.exe in the process lists actually represents a group of services that each process is managing. With Process Explorer, it's easy to see which services each process manages, and stop them one by one to see which is the CPU culprit.
In the spring of 2007, a major problem arose with a Windows update that caused svchost.exe to use 100 percent of CPU because of an issue with Automatic Updates. To correct that bug, be sure that Windows is fully patched with the most recent updates.
The first thing to do is to determine which of the active svchost.exe processes is causing the slowdown. Fire up Process Explorer, and click on the CPU column header to sort the list of processes by processor usage. A list of processes, sorted from most processor intensive to least intensive, is displayed. When the computer stalls, switch over to Process Explorer and see which running process is causing the crunch.… Read more