Service Host: Local System uses high CPU or high disk? Here is how to fix it

Service Host: Local System is a famous hogger of resources, such as CPU and disk utilization. This is because it is actually a container for a bunch of Windows system related services. You can verify that it is really this host clogging up your PC by clicking Ctrl + Alt + Del and looking at the statistics in Task Manager.

Fortunately, there are a number of simple options you can use to fix these issues.

Disable Service Host: Local System tasks

These tasks are grouped in one in Task manager and it’s not alway obvious which one is the problematic one.

  1. Enter Task manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del.
  2. Select Service Host: Local System, then find the services using the most memory. Right-click them one by one, then press End task.
ending service host: local system tasks
  1. Once the extreme memory usage has decreased, you have found the service that’s causing the problem. Right-click that one and select Open services.
opening services from task manager
  1. Find the problematic service in the list in Services manager, right-click it, then press Stop.
stopping services in services manager

If the high usage did not go down, you might need to disable other services. Read on to see how!

Disable Superfetch and BITS

  1. Type “services” in the Search bar, then click Open.
opening services manager
  1. Navigate to Background Intelligent Transfer Service, then double-click on it.
opening bits service settings
  1. Click on Stop, then set Startup type to Disabled. Click Apply, then OK.
disabling bits
  1. Navigate to Superfetch. Repeat step 2-3.
  2. Restart your computer, then check if the issue has been solved.

If the high CPU/disk usage persists, continue with these other methods.

Disable automatic updates

It might be the automatic updates that are using up your resources. Try disabling them to see if that’s really the problem.

  1. Type “services” in the Search bar, then click Open.
opening services manager
  1. Navigate to Windows update service , then double-click it.
opening windows update service settings
  1. Under the General tab, find Startup type, then select Disabled. Click Apply, then OK.
disabling windows update service
  1. Go back to Task manager, then end the Service Host: Local System task.
ending service host: local system task

If this didn’t fix the issue, you can try some other methods.

Fix the memory leak in the non-paged memory pool

Even if you eliminated all the obvious culprits, there is a potential memory leak in the memory section that is not part of the paged memory. You can fix that with this registry tweak.

  1. Type “regedit” into the Search bar, then click Open.
opening registry editor
user account control confirmation
  1. Navigate to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > ControlSet001 > Services > Ndu. Right-click the Start value and choose Modify.
modifying start value in ndu service
  1. Change the Value data to 4. This will disable the service. Click on OK.
changing dword data to 4
  1. Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

Once it restarts, the CPU or Disk usage of the System Host: Local System (Network Restricted) should be greatly reduced. If this is not the case, there are still a number of options you can try.

Running SFC and DISM

  1. Type “cmd” in the Search bar and click on Run as administrator. Accept the UAC prompt when it comes up.
opening command prompt as administrator
user account control for command prompt
  1. In the Command prompt window, Type “sfc /scannow“, then hit Enter.
starting sfc scan from command prompt
  1. The scan will run on its own. Once you see the message that it is complete, type “dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth“, then hit Enter.
starting dism scan from command prompt

Wait for the scan to complete, then check if the issue has been resolved. If it hasn’t, you need to tinker with some more hidden settings.

Kill ServiceHost

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete. This will open Task manager. Click on More details.
opening task manager
  1. Find Service Host: Local System. Within this process, select Windows Update and the Update Orchestrator Service. Click End task.
ending update orchestrator service task
  1. A confirmation dialog will pop up. Check Abandon unsaved data and shut down, then click Shutdown.
abandoning unsaved data and shutting down

Check if the issue has been resolved.

Change processor scheduling

Your CPU works differently depending on what you optimize it for. You can change this setting easily.

  1. Type “advanced system” in the Search bar. Choose View advanced system settings.
opening advanced system settings
  1. Under the Advanced tab, in the Performance box, choose Settings.
opening advanced performance settings
  1. Under the Advanced tab, in the first box, click on the checkbox next to Programs. Click Apply then OK.
adjusting processor scheduling to programs

Check if this has decreased the high CPU/disk problems. If the issue persists, there are a few more drastic solutions you can try.

Perform a clean boot

Third-party applications might cause high CPU usage. These services are usually not critical, therefore we can experiment with starting the computer without them. This is what a clean boot means. Some of the apps that are known to cause this problem are the following:

  • Virtual Disc App
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • MSI Command Center
  • VPN Chrome Extensions
  • HP Related Processes, especially HP Help

In the following steps we are going to perform a clean boot.

  1. Type “msconfig” in the Search bar, then press Open.
opening msconfig
  1. Under the Services tab, uncheck Hide all Microsoft services. Click on Disable all, then OK.
disabling non microsoft services
  1. Under the Startup tab, click on Open Task Manager.
opening task manager
  1. Under the Startup tab in Task manager, click on any application that is set to Enabled, then select Disable.
disabling startup services

Once you’re finished with all the applications in the list, restart your computer. Check if the error persists. If the error is cleared, enable the services one by one to decide which one caused the high CPU usage.

Disable Windows Update Delivery Optimization

Delivery optimization in Windows can save you some time, but it might also increase the CPU usage by Service Host. This is a problem for you, you should try turning off the memory optimization.

  1. Press Windows + I to open Settings, and choose Update&Security.
opening update and security settings
  1. Click on Delivery Optimization. Disable Allow downloads from other PCs.
disable downloads from other pcs
  1. Restart your system and check if the problem still persists.

Conclusion

There are many possible causes for the high CPU and disk usage of Service Host: Local System. Ultimately, it is possible that you need a new CPU. But hopefully one of the above methods, which have all been tried and tested, solved the problem for you!

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