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Finding the program or Windows Service that is slowing down your Windows 7 PC

So, you’re getting frustrated. Your Windows 7 computer is sluggish, but you aren’t really running anything. You open Internet Explorer and it just seems to crawl. Yet, again, nothing is really running except a few normal programs. What to do?


You need to figure out what is causing the slowdown. Just because you aren’t running many foreground apps doesn’t mean a program isn’t running in the background that is killing the performance of your computer.

Begin by starting Task Manager.

  1. Right-click on the task bar, that long bar running on the bottom of your screen where your programs live.
  2. Select “Start Task Manager”.

Alternatively, you can instead:

  1. Hit <CTRL>-<ALT>-<DEL> at the same time.
  2. Select “Start Task Manager”.

Windows Task Manager will start, usually defaulting to the Application tab.

  1. Click on the Performance tab. This will show you how much your CPU and memory is being used.
    Task Manager Tabs - IT Support
  2. Wow, my CPU is very busy. I wonder why? Let’s find out.
    Performance Tab - IT Support
  3. Click on the Processes tab. This will show the actual programs running as you on the computer.
  4. Click on the CPU column to sort by the highest CPU consuming processes.
  5. Once done, you’ll see the programs using the CPU the most. Wait. Those numbers only add up to well under 30%, yet my CPU is super busy, as we saw earlier, at roughly 80%-90% usage. What’s going on?
    Process Tab - IT Support
  6. Click on “Show processes from all users”. This will show all programs running, including those used by Windows. Maybe it’s not my programs causing the issue, but a program running in the background. This will show those programs to you. Well that’s interesting. Now we’re seeing more programs that are using CPU, including svchost.exe. (svchost.exe is the program that Windows uses to run background programs that run as a Windows Service.)
    Process Tab - IT Support
  7. Now click on the Performance tab
  8. Click on Resource Monitor. Resource Monitor lets you dig into how processes and services are using the CPU, disk, network, and memory much more than Task Manager will.
    Resource Monitor button - IT Support
  9. Looking, we see that the CPU is still busy. We also know that svchost.exe is consuming the most CPU. Let’s check on that.
    Overview Tab - IT Support
  10.  Click on the CPU tab. You will see that this tab will break out Processes and Services.
  11. Expand the Services by clicking on the down-arrow to the right of “Services”.
    Services Tab - IT Support
  12. Click on CPU to sort by CPU usage. CPU usage is down from before on my test PC, so I decide to wait until the CPU gets busy again. This is common in performance troubleshooting–you have to be patient!
  13. Oh oh, it got busy again. Looks like CscService is busy. CscService is what makes “Offline Files” work.
    Our CPU hogs - IT Support

Okay, so we see that CscService is consuming a lot of CPU. We’ll want to keep watching this screen to determine if it may be something else. In this example, CscService was the service that most consistently related to a performance issue.

In a future blog, we’ll review how to troubleshoot CscService.


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