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Thursday, April 25, 2019

What Is “System Idle Process,” and Why Is It Using So Much CPU?

Have you ever opened up Task Manager and noticed the System Idle Process is using 90% or more of your CPU? Contrary to what you might think, that’s not a bad thing. Here’s what that process actually does.

RELATED: What Is This Process and Why Is It Running on My PC?

This article is part of our ongoing series explaining various processes found in Task Manager, like Runtime Brokersvchost.exedwm.exectfmon.exerundll32.exeAdobe_Updater.exe, and many others. Don’t know what those services are? Better start reading!

What Is the System Idle Process?

If you’ve ever poked around in the Task Manager—Windows 10 users have to look under the “Details” tab—you’ll see that the System Idle Process is using most, if not all, of your CPU. But the System Idle Process is just that; an idling process made by the operating system. Without this process constantly keeping your processor occupied with something to do, your system could potentially freeze.

In other words, the CPU resources used by the System Idle Process are just the CPU resources that aren’t being used. If programs are using 5% of your CPU, the System Idle Process will be using 95% of your CPU. You can think of it as a simple placeholder. That’s why the Task Manager describes this process as the “percentage of time the processor is idle.” It has a PID (process identifier) of 0.

Windows hides the System Idle Process information from the normal Processes tab in Windows 10’s Task Manager to keep things simple, but it’s still shown on the Details tab.

The System Idle Process on the Details tab in Windows 10's Task Manager

RELATED: Windows Task Manager: The Complete Guide

Why Does Windows Need a System Idle Process?

Read the remaining 14 paragraphs



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