Processors: Intel and AMD CPUs

Processor usage – CPU usage – Which processes (programs) are making the most use of the processor as a percentage of the total use

There is an easy way in Windows 7/8.1/10 to find out what use is being made of the computer’s processor by which processes, measured as a percentage for each process. Just press the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys to bring up the Windows Task Manager, and click on the Performance tab.

In Windows 8.1,  press the Windows key (with the Windows flag) + X and choose Task Manager from the menu. There are many other ways to access it. It is advisable that you bring the TM up while on the Desktop and pin it to the task bar by right-clicking on its icon there and choosing the option to pin it there.

In Windows 10, type task manager in the Search box, look under the Settings heading in the menu and click on View system resource usage in Task Manager. The Performance tab of TM shows the graphical usage of processor cores, RAM memory, disk and network (wireless Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet). The link in the bottom left corner called Resource Monitor shows the processes that are running and the CPU (processor) usage for all of the processor’s cores – CPU0, CPU1, CPU2, CPU3 for a quad-core processor.

The CPU Usage graphic shows how many of the processor’s available cycles are being used as a percentage by each of the listed processes (all of the listed file names with .exe extensions). The PF Usage (Page File Usage) refers to how much hard-drive space is being used by the virtual-memory swap file or page file that Windows uses instead of RAM. If the CPU usage is high, especially if it is close to 100% when a demanding program is not running, you should find out which programs or running processes are responsible, because spyware might have installed itself and is consuming processor cycles. If the PF Usage is high, installing more RAM memory usually lowers its usage when several applications are running or windows are open and the memory is insufficient to run them without using the virtual-memory swap file on the hard disk constantly. Note that a page file should not be used with an SSD drive because constant use of areas of an SSD wears its memory locations out.

If you want to find out which of the listed programs (processes) are using the most processor cycles as a percentage of the total use, click on the Processes tab of the Windows Task Manager, maximise the window, and then click on the CPU heading. The programs that are using the processor are shown and will change as the percentage of the CPU usage of each program changes.

Alternatively, use the free Sysinternals Process Explorer. Sysinternals was an independent organisation but it is now owned by Microsoft. Visit for the excellent free utilities.

If the listed process or processes causing the problem are unfamiliar to you, enter a web search consisting of the name of the process and the version of Windows being used in your web browser while you’re online in order to find out which software program runs the process.

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