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

Have you already opened Task Manager and found that the system idle process uses 90% or more of your processor? Contrary to what you might think, it's not a bad thing. Here is what this process actually does.

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This article is part of our current series explaining various processes found in the task manager, such as Execution Broker, svchost.exe, dwm.exe, ctfmon.exe, rundll32.exe, Adobe_Updater.exe, and many others. You do not know what these services are? Better to start reading!

What is the process of inactivity of the system?

If you have already delved into the Task Manager (Windows 10 users should look in the "Details" tab), you will see that the system idle process uses up, if not all, your processor. But the process of inactivity of the system is just that. an idle process created by the operating system. Without this process, your processor is constantly busy with something to do, your system can potentially hang.

In other words, the CPU resources used by the system idle process are only those CPU resources that are not being used. If programs use 5% of your CPU, the system inactivity process will use 95% of your CPU. You can think of it as a simple placeholder. This is why the task manager describes this process as the "percentage of time the processor is idle." PID (process ID) from 0.

Windows hides information about the system idle process in the Normal Process tab of the Windows 10 Task Manager to simplify things, but it remains displayed in the Details tab.

System Idle Process on the Windows 10 Task Manager Details Tab

RELATED: Windows Task Manager: The Complete Guide

Why does Windows need an inactive process of the system?

Without this process, your processor is always busy with something to do, your system may potentially hang. Windows runs this process as part of the SYSTEM user account. It is therefore always active in the background when Windows is running.

The system inactivity processes have been native to Windows NT operating systems since 1993. They also appear in Unix-like operating systems, such as Linux, but work a little differently. A system idle process is a normal part of your operating system that runs a single thread on each processor core for a multiprocessor system, while systems that use hyperthreading have an idle thread per logical processor.

RELATED: Processor basics: multiple processors, cores, and hyper-threading explained

The only purpose of the system idle process is to keep the processor busy doing something – literally anything – while waiting for the next calculation or process in progress. All of this works because idle threads use a zero priority, which is lower than ordinary threads, which allows them to be kicked out of the queue when the operating system has legitimate processes to execute. Then, once the processor has completed its work, it is ready to resume the process of system inactivity. The fact that idle threads are still in the ready state, if they are not already running, allows the processor to run and wait for whatever the system is in. Exploitation sent him.

Why does it use so many CPU resources?

As mentioned earlier, this process seems to use a lot of processor time, which you will notice if you open Task Manager, looking for resource-intensive processes. This is normal because it is a special task performed by the OS Scheduler only when your processor is idle, which, unless you do something that requires a lot of processing power, will seem quite high.

To understand the number next to the process in Task Manager, you must think the opposite of what you normally understand. It represents the percentage of CPU available, not the amount used. If the programs use 5% of the CPU, the SIP will indicate that it uses 95% of the CPU or that 95% of the CPU is unused or unwanted by other system threads.

But my computer is slow!

If your computer is slow and you notice high usage by the system idle process, this is not the fault of the system idle process. The behavior of this process is perfectly normal and suggests that the problem is not due to heavy CPU usage. This may be due to lack of memory, slow storage, or other use of your computer's resources. As always, it's a good idea to run a scan with an antivirus program if you encounter problems and you are not running anything that could slow down your PC.

RELATED: What is the best antivirus for Windows 10? (Is Windows Defender sufficient?)

If that does not help and your performance is still below normal, try uninstall unused programs, disable programs that start when you start your computer, reduce system animations, free up disk space or defragment your hard drive.

Disabling a Startup Application in Windows 10 Task Manager

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The system inactivity process is an integral part of the Windows operating system, and although it may appear to be running out of 90%, it simply tells you what resources are available and your processor is not doing anything right now.

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