Windows Updates and svchost.exe the CPU hogger

Checking for Windows Updates on freshly installed Windows 7 quad-core system (svchost.exe running for hours).
Checking for Windows Updates on freshly installed Windows 7 quad-core system (svchost.exe running for hours).

There was a turning point back with Windows XP, when, if you did a fresh install of the Operating System, and then when you started checking for Windows Updates, your processor (the CPU) would be hogged for hours; it/one of its cores would be at 100% thanks to svchost.exe.

Early on in the evolution of the OS this didn’t happen, but something changed – Microsoft changed something at their end and Windows was never the same again… Windows 7 does it too. I could mention Vista and 8/8.1 here, but lets not, and I won’t get started on Windows 10’s force-fed Updating procedure, let’s just get back to my point about the CPU hogging…

When it started to happen I thought Microsoft had broken something at their end with the updating process… perhaps on purpose to encourage people to upgrade to Vista or 7 (which ever was current at the time, I don’t recall).

Why does the processor get held hostage for hours? And it’s a lot of hours; if I start updating late in the afternoon I’ll usually end up leaving the computer on overnight to let it do it’s (Microsoft’s) thing.

Remember, I’m talking in particular about Updating just after a fresh install of the OS, although the same sort of thing happens once things are all up-to-date and the OS is carrying out a routine update, the checking for updates process just hogs things for a little while then.

Thankfully modern computers generally have two or more processor cores, so if svchost.exe is running full load then it will only hog 100% of one core at a time (in my illustration the computer has a quad core processor so svchost.exe is shown running at 25%, which is a whole core), but when computers only had a single-core processor, typically back in the XP-era, it was a problem because your computer would be all but rendered useless until svchost.exe had finished doing its thing, or you had to be very patient if you were trying to use the computer at the same time… and that’s why we get a computer (Microsoft), to use it.

It’s not that Updates have been downloaded and they are now being installed, because it would be understandable for this to take some processing power, I’m talking about before your computer has even produced the list of what updates are available; you’ll just see it telling you “Checking for updates…” and unless you know to check the Task Manager and you know what to look for there, you’ll be none-the-wiser and may assume something is wrong, maybe even switch your computer off to try again later (which will just mean it carries on from where it left off).

I had a little joke this week with some people when I aired my conspiracy theory regarding what svchost.exe could possibly be doing all this time, and here it is…

Microsoft are using all the computers in the world that are currently going through this process of checking for Windows Updates to….. do Bitcoin mining.


Okay, maybe their not. They could be searching for aliens (SETI@home), or working on a cure for cancer (Folding@home)…

Conspiracy theories aside, we can only hope that the processing going on behind the scenes is important and the best way for the Updating procedure, otherwise, that’s a lot of power being wasted (if you knew how many computers around the world were checking for Windows Updates like this at any one time and were able to do the math you’d see it). Then again, maybe the head of Microsoft is a lizard person and they’re using our computers on purpose to contribute towards global warming…

Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist…

*Re-reads Children of the Matrix by David Icke while his computer checks for Updates…*


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