What Causes High CPU Usage & How to Fix It

In case you have noticed that your fan often hits top speeds, it’s a clear indication that your CPU is loaded. This causes the computer to slow down, even when you are not doing anything.

Look – a computer CPU is just like your brain. When you bombard it with a lot of work and thoughts, you tend to be overwhelmed, and you find it difficult to focus on other things.

Similarly, when you overwhelm the Central Processing Unit (CPU) with multiple tasks, it becomes overwhelmed; thus, crawls are slowed down.

There are a myriad of things that cause high CPU usage. They include;


One of the biggest causes of high CPU usage is malware. If your system is infected, it will run processes in the background and attempt to spread the malware to other devices via your networks, emails, and other sources.

Since all these require processing power, your CPU will be overworked, which eventually leads to poor performance.

You can tell that your computer is infected by malware if;

  • The computer takes longer to start and runs slower than usual
  • Random crashed, or freezes affect your computer
  • Your search results are redirected often
  • You end up in sites you didn’t intend
  • The desktop background has changed without your knowledge
  • Your security software has been disabled
  • Files and programs are suddenly missing
  • Your files are locked and fail to open
  • New programs you didn’t install appear on the desktop

Manually confirming that your computer is infected with malware is a vicious cycle. In fact, this is something that is nearly impossible to achieve.

Luckily, there exists various antivirus software that can help you detect even the most advanced malware. However, if you don’t have one yet, you can try confirming infection with a free anti-malware application.

One of the best ways to detect malware is by using an array of tools because this infection is able to hide from any single antivirus software.

The best way to fix malware is to prevent it from the word go. You can do this by securing your online traffic using VPNs. A good VPN like NordVPN is more than a reliable privacy tool. It blocks avenues of infiltration by hackers and their malware. With a built-in feature known as CyberSec, this VPN flags malicious sites before they can deliver damaging malware to your computer.

Too many background processes

A background process is basically a program that runs on your PC even though it’s not open in a window.

Since windows or any other operating system requires some programs to run for optimum performance, a typical computer has many background processes running at once.

However, as you install more programs over time, the processes running on the background might overwhelm the CPU, thus compromising your PC’s speed.

To see the processes running in the background, open the task manager. You will notice that most of these processes regularly use at least 10% of your processor’s capability.

In order to fix this issue, open the task manager on your PC. Click the CPU column header to see the processes by CPU usage and check those with higher usage. Then, right-click the processes you have checked and click End Task. Easy, right?


One of the causes of high CPU usage could be the program you trust the most to provide you with optimum security against malware and viruses – your antivirus. 

When searching for a threat within your disks, your antivirus program can consume a significant amount of processor load. However, you might not notice the strain if you are using a modern computer. If you are using an older system, you will doubtlessly note a drop in processing speeds.

To fix this, make use of the scheduling function in your antivirus software. Schedule a scan for a time when you will not be using the PC so that you will not have to bear the pain and frustrations that come with slow systems.

Also, note that the windows defender is enough to protect your PC against viruses. Therefore, you can uninstall the third-party antivirus if it consumes a lot of processor load.

Can resetting your computer fix high CPU usage?

Yes, if you try all the fixes discussed above fail, you can try resetting your computer, and the issue will be fixed. However, you need to use this strategy as your last resort because you can lose significant data and files when you reset your computer.

If you have to perform a computer reset, make sure you backup critical data in advance.

Final Thoughts

The high CPU usage can be difficult to track down. While the issues outlined above are the most common culprits, you might still find that CPU usage is an issue that poses adverse effects on your daily output, even after you try all fixes suggested in this post.

If these problems plague you all the time, try seeking help from an IT professional, or better still, try replacing your older PCs with ultra-modern and high-end computer systems. They have high processing powers; hence they can execute multiple tasks without getting overwhelmed.