How can I fix a low system idle process? It's running at about 0 to 90%

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How do I fix a low system idle process, I know that a system idle process is running at about 98 to 99% and recently over the past five days I've had slow internet and other computer operations such as opening software and games... so I looked at my system idle process and it'll run between 0 and 90%... of course, when it's at less than 20% you generally can't do anything. It's very frusterating, please help!
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Donald

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Posted 10 years ago

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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Donald, you are looking at the wrong process. The System Idle Process just shows the amount of time your system is idle - doing nothing. If this % is lower than usual, just look to see which other process is busy.
You may need to "show processes from all users".
Once you have found it, you may need to search the Internet to find out what the program is for and if you need to take any action.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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Trent Warfel

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i have this same exact problem! everything is working 100% normal except system idle. it usually is about 90% and usin 150k+ memory. now its using 16k and not changing and its usage is 0. i sense this isnt supposed to happen...
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Trent Warfel

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sry for double posting but i posted this comment to john's because his info helped about nothing. i always have no processes showing for some reason and everything is...well...working normal
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Trent, I really hope you have read right to the bottom of this web page and followed the useful links I've mentioned in my various replies to people.

Please ignore the "System Idle" process in Task Manager - it will NOT help you in any way diagnose what your performance problems are. Seriously.

If you have no processes showing, how can you see System Idle?
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Anwar Hussain

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salam
I was also so confused because of system idle process but basically its higher value is in our benefit.
i launched a scan process and i see that system idle process value becomes 05 which is a very lower value.
when the scan process ends then system idle process value become 96 that shows the available cpu for other processes to run.
please note the picture....
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Jack Angel

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thanks
now i go test it......
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Donald

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well... the system idle process takes the CPU % UP the lower the system idle process. For example... if the system idle process is at 60% then the CPU % WILL BE at 40% or higher and under no circumstances can be lower than 40% if the system idle process is at 60%. ALL the processes and the system idle process MUST add to 100%. For example, system idle process 98%, iexplorer.exe 1%, tskmngr 1%... and if the system idle process is running at 60%, the CPU is probably running at 40% or higher. IF the CPU is running at 40% or higher it WILL slow down the computer. So computer speed is definately caused by the low system idle process. The other processes are running at 1 to 4% for about 3 of the processes from iexplorer.exe, explorer.exe, and taskmngr... this wouldn't slow down the computer except the fact that the CPU is running at 40% or higher because of the low system idle process which is suppose to run at 98 or 99%.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Donald,

This statement IS false:
"So computer speed is definitely caused by the low system idle process."

Here are a few links that are worth a read:

"System Idle Process" Explained

Why Is The System Idle Process Hogging All The Resources?

If you are only seeing a few other processes with 1-4% each then you need to make sure you select "show processes from all users" (or similar) in Task Manager.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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omar

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i was told that this is a feature to stop viruses from running, i wasn't convect much of it, but that's ok . the real question is : shouldn't this feature go off or take less cpu cycles when i try to run some heavy.
the feature do that but it do it slowly, which causes the slow down
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Omar,

The feature you describe does not exist.
Anti-virus applications are the only software that can stop viruses from running.
If a machine is infected with a virus then the virus code is running just like any legitimate program or application. The operating system cannot distinguish between applications that are supposed to be there and those that are not.
The System Idle process does not cause a system to slow down.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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ceotammyjo

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Then why is my system slow ONLY when the System Idle Process is at 80 - 100%. The CPU only dogs when this is what is showing in the task manager?
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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HI Ceotammyjo,
Hopefully you've had a read of the links I mentioned in an earlier post:

"System Idle Process" Explained

Why Is The System Idle Process Hogging All The Resources?

Let's try approaching this from a different angle. In my car there is a little light that comes on when my fuel tank is down to 15 % full. The light is indicating the absence of fuel. It is not, though, the cause of the absence of fuel.
Similarly, if the System Idle process shows a high number, this indicates the absence of any other processes asking to use the CPU. It is not, though, preventing those processes from using the CPU.

Ignore the Idle Process numbers - they are only there to make the Task Manager column CPU usage column add up to 100%.

If your system seems unresponsive and System Idle is high, this shows you that the CPU is under-used and not the cause of your problems. There are a number of other causes - for example,, does the hard disk light flash a lot when the system is unresponsive? If so, it could be the drive needs defragmenting. Or disk activity could indicate the machine is running low on physical RAM (which means more use fo the pagefile and results in increased disk activity). There are many possible causes for poor performance and a lot of resources on the Internet to help you fix them.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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Warren Goeke

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I do not believe that Donald's question has been properly answered. The System Idle process is the resultant of the problem -- not the cause. I have the same problem as I am unable to launch programs at all due to a trojan horse invasion. System Idle is showing 99% usage and I have little ability to launch any program, including Word, Excel, etc. I also receive an svchost.exe application error.

Is there a way to eliminate the trojan horse/problem that is crippling my computer without doing a system restore?
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Warren,

I think it would be hard to answer Donald's question any more than we have.

Donald wrote "when [System Idle] is at less than 20% you generally can't do anything" which makes sense as something else is using the CPU. Donald needs to work out what that is.

Your situation with a System Idle of 99% would not seem to fit that situation as a number that high indicates no applications are running. I would instead check the disk activity - a busy disk does not mean a busy CPU. For example, if a machine has insufficient physical RAM then there will be a lot of paging of memory to and from the disk. Here the CPU will be quiet (and system idle will be near 100%) as it is waiting for the disk to do all its work.

To remove Trojans, you either obtain a reputable package to do the job or you restore the system to a state that was before the infestation. You could try Microsoft Security Essentials, for example.
http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Ess...

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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Rhys Thomas

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This is seriously annoying me. My problem is not the same as Donald's, but it's similar, and all you guys who apparently know your stuff keep saying 'SIP at 99% is normal. SIP is nothing', but you aren't reading properly. I have trawled different forums off google, and they are full of people not properly reading the problem.

This is what I know, and what you guys will probably try and tell me:

If the overal CPU usage, is low, 5% ish, then a high amount for SIP, 95% ish, IS normal. I understand that SIP technically is a non-process.

My problem is this:

My overal CPU usage is not low. It yo yos up and down from 20% to 100%, and even when high use programs like firefox and 3dsmax are open, SIP is running between 40% and 90% of the total. This is not normal. Despit you all saying SIP does nothing, it's clearly doing something. It should immediately drop when you give the computer something to do, but it doesn't. Don't say that it is normal, because I HAVE read your answers, and based on what you have said, my situation is not normal.

Please, read my problem, and maybe help me.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Rhys,

I take it that you are seeing a performance issue where applications are not responding as quickly as you think they should, yes? And you understand that SIP technically is effectively a non-process. Any conversation that involves using the System Idle Process as a troubleshooting tool or diagnostic is doomed to failure so I suggest we ignore SIP completely and focus on the problem.

People usually talk about the CPU when they have a performance problem because somebody at Microsoft way back in time thought it a bright idea to put CPU Usage in Task Manager. It's now burnt into the psyche that a busy PC MUST have a busy CPU. This is not necessarily the case.

System performance of a computer is related to how busy the CPU, hard disk, memory, network card, network/ISP connection, etc. all are.
Devices like the controller for the hard drive don't require the CPU to get involved much when data is being written to the disk, for example. (Look up "Direct memory access" on Wiki for more background). So you can have data flying around your machine without the CPU breaking into a sweat. But because those devices are busy doing whatever they need to do, your applications are having to wait to get a look-in.

This is where the Resource Monitor (in newer versions of Windows) comes in really handy because it brings all these devices together in one screen. If you don't have Resource Monitor then use something else but, whatever you do, don't use Task Manager unless you understand what it is telling you.

Task Manager can be configured to show a lot of useful data that can help you - choose the Processes tab and have a look at "Select Columns" from the View menu to see what is available - but it does require a reasonable level of technical knowledge.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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Rhys Thomas

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Well I don't think 'that a busy PC MUST have a busy CPU. This is not necessarily the case', I think that a busy CPU must be making the PC busy. I'm going to have to go to PC world with this, because I don't get what you are saying. Thanx for your help anyway, I'm sure it's not too big a problem.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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HI Rhys,

PC World may well be able to advise; they'll have access to your machine so be able to see what you've got installed, how much disk space is free and so on. I expect they will have some best practices to share with you - performance issues are probably a common issue they are asked about.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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fahad12khan

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Can anyone advise me here ....

My system idle process runs between 60-100, however, when the firefox or avgscan is running, the SIP goes below 10 and by the time it hits 0, my system shuts down automatically without showing any notification.......just a power failure....please advise....thank you.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Hi Fahad,
What you are basically saying is that when your machine is busy, it shuts down. Could be a whole range of causes. Maybe it is overheating, for example. If there are no errors or Blue Screen messages then it is going to be hard to troubleshoot. I would start with the basics - run any hardware diagnostics that come with the machine; ensure all the cards are firmly seated on the motherboard; if the case is dusty inside, give it a vacuum clean; ensure the fans are all working and ventilation is good.

Cheers
John Breakwell (MSFT)
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Todd

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On behalf of the questioners posting here, I'm going to throw my hat in the ring and try to ask this question once more- in a new way, as well as I am able to interpret what's already posted here, since it seems that users (me included) aren't yet understanding how to resolve what feels like a problem.

As I write this, I am running an Excel macro that has been steadily consuming 50% of my CPU capacity for about half an hour. (The macro has a fair degree of complexity - running a sequence of queries within a Microsoft Access database in the background, and feeding the results into the spreadsheet.) I need the job to finish up, so would like to devote more CPU capacity to the process. Two-thirds of my 3.2GB of RAM is available, so RAM capacity is not a roadblock.

Task Manager shows that no other application is preventing this from happening; the other 50% of my CPU capacity (give or take 3%) is apparently not being used, as the CPU activity devoted to the System Idle Process (or, perhaps more accurately, the nonentity posing as the System Idle Process) hovers between 46% and 50%.

So, if the System Idle "Process" is telling me that about 50% of my CPU capacity isn't being used - how can I tap into some of that inactive processor capability and apply it to my Excel process?

I think what people are trying to describe is a need to more efficiently use computer resources. Why is it that Windows seems to want to keep a substantial portion of the processor idle, and then arrogantly tell you that it's sleeping?

If that can help elicit any new information, I appreciate any responses - thanks.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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"Why is it that Windows seems to want to keep a substantial portion of the processor idle"
It doesn't. It's easy to write an application that will consume 100% of your CPU. If Excel was able to consume more of your CPU, it would. The main bottlenecks are memory, CPU, disk and network. You've looked at the first two and found them with capacity so you need to look at the next two (although network may not be relevant). If there is significant disk activity - and you are querying an Access database so there should be - then maybe defrag the disk or get a faster one.
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Warren Goeke

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I finally came to the conclusion with my problem that no one understands it well enough to solve it. So, instead of wasting half of my life pursuing nonsense replies like on here and proprietary software that does not eliminate the problem, I did a system restore to the original factory settings and reloaded all software again. Unfortunately, I lost so much in the process. But, my computer at least works again.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Warren, I think the person that doesn't understand the problem well enough is, unfortunately, yourself. The replies on this thread are not nonsense and to call them such is an insult to the person spending their time trying to help you.
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Warren Goeke

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Well, I would not be writing and asking for assistance if I fully understood the problem and how to fix it.

However, your earlier response that the high SIP percentage is only an indicator that nothing else is occupying the CPU does not speak to the problem at hand, which is the inability to launch programs or do work within programs that do eventually launch while the SIP still sits at 95% or higher. One should not have this problem if there is nothing in the system occupying the CPU.

After seeing the comment directly below regarding 3d max, there might be a connection to that software. I had attempted to load that program as well as autocad 2007. My computer developed the problem shortly thereafter.
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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In the several responses I have made in this thread, I've tried to highlight the fact that there are several resources that need to be considered - memory, CPU, disk and network.
I cannot emphasise enough that performance issues need to be looked at from a system-wide perspective. Focussing on the CPU usage numbers - and especially the system idle process - to the exclusion of everything else will get you nowhere.
For example, If an application is waiting for data to be read from the hard disk, it will STOP using the CPU and the System Idle Process will go UP. If the disk is fragemented then data can take a long time to be read.
Another example: if you have insufficient free memory, the PC will use the hard disk a lot (paging) which will slow applications down without showing significant CPU activity.
If the Windows OS is new enough, always use Resource Monitor instead of Task Manager.
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mthsehlako

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OK what i wanna know is what should i do? cause i have the same problem as Rys but for like two days after it was working fine after i uninstalled hard disk sentinel i could load 3d max without lagging when it start but when i install utorrent it went up 100%. and i'm using an i7 2600k i never had this problem this. And before you say remove utorrent i did already it still says 100% usage. this is what process explorer says

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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Not sure what the the picture is supposed to be showing.
You have activity for the System Interrupts process. This is related to hardware drivers and a high value for this may indicate the drivers need tweaking/updating/etc.
COMODO Internet Security is active and you also seem to be installing something (MSIEXEC).
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mthsehlako

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i know but i installe all the drivers and it still says that plus i downloaded a software that checks if your drivers are updated and it says all my drivers are updated. i checked task manager it says core usage is at 100%
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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Just because the drivers are up to date doesn't mean they are any good.
If "core usage" includes System Idle Process then it will always be 100% :-)
I would advise going to a web site or forum that specialises in system performance problems to get a broad spectrum of ideas. This thread is only about System Idle Process and how it doesn't help anyone to look at it.
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Todd

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To John Breakwell - Thanks for the response. Given what you've said, here at work I think I'm stuck; my Access database is indeed on a shared network drive, and I don't (and shouldn't) have security to try something like defragmenting the disk on the server.

However, I've had similar problems with applications at home, and some disk management might help - so, since there's some hope, I appreciate the response!
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John Breakwell (ex MSFT), Currently working at a different company

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OK, as the database is on the network, you need to see if the network card is your bottleneck. If you go to the Networking tab in Task Manager, you should be able to see what percentage Network Utilisation you have.
Might be some tips here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/acc...
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joeyambe

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How do i restore the System Idle process,i click the "end process" accidentally.
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Anwar Hussain

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so simple if system restart then it will be automatically restore.
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Anwar Hussain

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salam
I was also so confused because of system idle process but basically its higher value is in our benefit.
i launched a scan process and i see that system idle process value becomes 05 which is a very lower value.
when the scan process ends then system idle process value become 96 that shows the available cpu for other processes to run.
please note the picture....
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Ramakrishna Siripuram

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There is no way to get rid of the system idle process. It doesn't cause any harm or slow down your PC at all. It actually just logs how much of your CPU you aren't using.

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