Archive for the ‘Updates’ Tag

Solve Windows XP svchost.exe 100% CPU load

Today I think I found the perfect solution to Windows XP svchost.exe 100% CPU load problem.

Just a step behind to show what this problem is. I use some XP virtual machines (but this problem applies to real machines too) to develop and test software. A couple of them (one running in VMWare Player, the other running in Virtual PC) suddenly slowed down to a unpractical speed. “What the … is happening now” – I thought….

Running the taskmanager showed a svchost.exe process taking up the 100% of CPU time. Uhm that was really suspicious, so I had to investigate more. I used Process Explorer from SysInternals (now Microsoft) to detect who was that process and what it was doing to my poor machine.

svchost.exe is a part of XP (and others Microsoft’s NT-like OS) that takes care of running different processes as services, so it’s definitively a kind of srvany launcher (a commonly used program to start an executable as a NT service). But why was it taking up so much CPU time? Ok, to cut the longest debugging part, I stopped, one at a time, the services launched by the faulty copy of svchost, and I found that the Windows Update Service was responsible of taking up all of the CPU time.

Ok, once found were the problem was, now I had to find the solution for it. After googling a bit around, I found that this was a widely known problem afflicting XP with Internet Explorer 8, but the solution was not so obvious. Somewhere it was stated to clear the downloaded patch folder located in %WINDIR%\Software Distribution, deleting it after the service has been stopped, but that didn’t fix the problem.

The final solution that worked for me in both my virtual machines was:

  • stop Windows Update Service from management console or command line
  • start Internet Explorer and connect to
  • search for KB2898785, that is Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP
  • download the executable
  • close Internet Explorer
  • launch the patch and wait it to end the installation (you will be warned it has to restart system)

After restart, you will be able to connect to Microsoft Update or Windows Update to download other updates, and svchost.exe should not take up the whole CPU time again.