How to Fix High CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe on Windows 10?

by Lucia Danes - -
12

Question

Issue: How to Fix High CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe on Windows 10?

I’ve recently installed the latest Windows 10 update and found everything working fine. However, after a couple of days, my PC became very sluggish and unresponsive, which is unusual so I’ve started to look for a reason. I’ve checked the list of processes on Task Manager and what draws my attention immediately is a high CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe. The usage jumps from 25% to 65% and sometimes even more, which does not seem normal to me. Am I paranoid or this process may be the culprit? Thanks!

Solved Answer

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The problem with the high CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe emerged in 2015 along with Windows 10 OS release. While a part of Windows users managed to upgrade earlier Windows versions to Windows 10 without experiencing side effects, the others encountered either serious problems BSOD, pop-up error messages, hardware/software incompatibilities, etc. Or minor issues like high CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe. Even though Windows 10 has already been adopted by the vast majority of Windows users, it seems that the problem with the above-mentioned process did not vanish and keep chasing new Windows 10 users. Nevertheless, quite a lot of instances have been registered when ntoskrnl.exe process started leaking memory after installation of Windows 10 cumulative updates.

High CPU usage and memory leakage by Ntoskrnl.exe are not that evident as BSOD or pop-up alerts. Usually, people notice this problem when the PC gets slow, unresponsive, crashes and boots in a very slow manner. Due to these malfunctions, people start checking for issues and open Task Manager, which reveals ntoskrnl.exe to be using up to 50% CPU or even more.

Ntoskrnl.exe is “known as kernel image, provides the kernel and executive layers of the Windows NT kernel space, and is responsible for various system services such as hardware virtualization, process and memory management“ meaning that it‘s one of the crucial Windows files. Therefore, it cannot be disabled, modified or deleted because, otherwise, Windows 10 may crash and even fail to boot. Unfortunately, Microsoft seems is not very responding towards this issue even though there are thousands of people who are looking for a solution. While several official fixes for ntoskrnl.exe memory leak have been published, most of them appear not to be working. In this post, we are going to provide a couple of fixes that some of the Windows 10 users approved to be useful. Thus, unless you decide to wait until Microsoft releases a patch, you should try the following ntoskrnl.exe high CPU usage fixes.

How to Fix High CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe on Windows 10?

We‘ll provide a list of fixes that have been published by Microsoft. Since these are the standard suggestions, we are not extended a full explanation of each step separately:

  • Run a System File Checker tool
  • Perform a Clean Boot
  • Update Drivers
  • Run antivirus scan

Several people found these options helpful, so having in mind that none of these methods are difficult to implement, they are worth giving a try. If, however, none of these steps helped to fix High CPU usage by ntoskrnl.exe, try the following:

Disable TimeBroker

Open a new notepad window and type the below give text in it. Save the file as .reg extension. Once saved, run it to disable TimeBroker.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services\TimeBroker]
“Start”=dword:00000004

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Services\SysMain]
“DisplayName”=”Superfetch”
“Start”=dword:00000004

Once done, reboot your PC. Hopefully, these steps have helped and your PC’s CPU and memory usage got to normal. Finally, our last recommendation would be to install Reimage and perform a system check on a regular basis in order to prevent malfunctioning, malware, registry errors, and similar problems in the future.

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About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Security researcher

Lucia Danes is the news editor at UGetFix. She is always on the move because the eager for knowledge makes her travel around the globe and attend InfoSec events and conferences.

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