Things taking 100% CPU, and/or background processes

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Things taking unreasonable CPU

Things that don't do something useful but eat up your processing power endlessly.

initctl emit plymouth-ready (Ubuntu)

kipmi0 (linux)

This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

Short version:

  • this process is a background helper that isn't necessary, but speeds up IPMI operations
  • non-interrupt IPMI takes a lot of polling
  • if not actively using IPMI, high CPU on this process may be due to an unresponsive BMC
This kernel process is essentially high niceness, so it shouldn't steal processing power from anything.

If you're not using IPMI, or are but only rarely, you can disable it. Edit modprobe.conf to say:

options ipmi_si force_kipmid=0

You can also make it less insistent, via something like:

echo 100 > /sys/module/ipmi_si/parameters/kipmid_max_busy_us

(...or in its config)

ksoftirqd (linux)

Google drive (Windows)

Known bug. Haven't seen it in a while, so possibly resolved in an update?


See MySQL_notes#mysqld_safe_taking_.7E100.25_CPU

Windows explorer (WinXP, mostly)

Earlier versions did not deal well with all video files.

See Media_thumbnails_and_previews#Windows_-_Video_and_audio_explorer_extensions_.28previews.2C_metadata.29

Other notes on background processes

For those that are trying to figure out whether there are any running processes that shouldn't be there.



kernel worker threads for various work (most things that take serious time), including

  • interrupts
  • timers
  • IO

If it's taking a lot of CPU, that often means significant disk IO and/or significant networking. Sometimes things like sorta-broken drivers.


ext4 is the ext4 journaling process


Common background processes:

Note that this list cannot tell you whether a process is spyware or such, since spyware may choose to name processes one of the below. Install a spyware scanner to discover this.

system stuff

  • svchost.exe: (usually several) hosts a service (those that need this type of hosting) (You can't easily tell which of these processes hosts which service)
  • services.exe: assists service starts/stops
  • rundll32.exe

  • alg.exe (mainly handles windows firewall and connection sharing)
  • csrss.exe (graphics processing proxy)
  • smss.exe (manages login sessions)
  • lsass.exe (local security, login. Perhaps see lsass.exe taking all cpu)
  • spoolsv.exe (handles printing)
  • HelpSvc.exe (Help service. Perhaps see HelpSvc.exe taking all cpu)
  • mmc.exe (supports elements of device manager, etc.)

  • mdm.exe (process debugging, used e.g. in IE script debugging)

installed apps


  • ctfmon.exe (alternate input methods for MS office)
  • wdfmgr.exe (part of Windows Media Player 10)

nVidia (video card drivers/utilities):

  • nvsvc32.exe

ATI (video card drivers/utilities):

  • ati2evxx.exe
  • mom.exe
  • CCC.exe


  • naldesk.exe
  • nalntsrv.exe
  • nalrstrt.exe (NAL Restart Utility?)
  • zentray.exe
  • ZenRem32.exe (Remote Management)
  • dpmw32.exe (print, security)
  • nwtray.exe (tray menu)
  • nwquota.exe (quota checker & tray menu)
  • wm.exe (Workstation Manager)
  • wmrundll.exe
  • iprntlgn.exe (iPrint)
  • iprntctl.exe (iPrint)
  • xtagent.exe (NetIdentity)


  • mDNSResponder.exe (Bonjour for Windows, used by iTunes music sharing, and some other apps. See also zeroconf)
  • iTunesHelper.exe
  • iPodService.exe

Symantec/Norton AntiVirus/Internet Security:

  • ccApp.exe (autoprotect and such)
  • ccEvtMgr.exe (logger)
  • VPtray.exe (tray icon)
  • DefWatch.exe (updates virus definitions)
  • SavRoam.exe (roaming user support)
  • ccSetMgr.exe
  • spbbcsvc.exe

Spybot S&D

  • TeaTimer.exe (resident protection)



  • googletalk.exe: Google talk app
  • GoogleUpdateService.exe


  • vmware-authd.exe
  • vmnat.exe


  • ikernel.exe (installation engine, while some installation is open)


  • apdproxy.exe (camera photo download helper, lightroom)


  • Tablet.exe
  • tabuserw.exe


  • s3hotkey.exe: utility for S3 Twister integrated graphics card (laptops, miniITX systems, etc.), apparently used to switch between monitors, whatever that means exactly.


  • jusched.exe (java update scheduler/checker)
  • jucheck.exe (same)


  • RTLCPL.exe (installed with motherboard sound cards)
  • soundman.exe (installed with motherboard sound cards)


  • remoterm.exe (the app that handles the remote for various Pinnacle video products)


  • WinCinemaMgr.exe (part of WinDVD)

AOL (Viewpoint Media Player or Viewpoint Toolbar, used by AIM, AOL, but not really necessary. See also [1]):

  • viewpointservice.exe
  • viewmgr.exe


  • starwindservice.exe (Alcohol 120%)

See also

  • The autoruns app, which gives a brief description of the things registered to start with windows