The ‘spooler high CPU usage‘ issue is known to cause painfully slow processing times in Windows PCs. Yet the Spooler Windows service itself is designed to ensure the exact opposite. At least when it works the way it is intended to.
The Windows Print Spooler Service is part of your PC’s printer processes infrastructure. This service enables your PC to execute printing jobs in the background while you do other tasks.
The Spooler application functions by adding every document you send to the printer to a queue so it can print as soon as the printer is available.
The service’s convenience is, while the printer is running, whatever you are doing in the front end should run without interruption. The spooler.exe process should also show in the task manager, indicating that there is an ongoing printing task.
But as soon as the queued printing tasks are complete you should no longer see the spoolsv.exe process showing on the task manager.
So, rather than view it as an annoyance when problems like this one happen, the service should be seen for its convenient utilities. If it somehow malfunctions you should look to fix it immediately.
When operating normally, even while it is running, the spoolsv.exe shouldn’t take over your CPU. And even if the Spooler service does save the queued print jobs to memory it still shouldn’t use up too much of your RAM.
But there are cases where it does take as much as 100 percent of your CPU. This isn’t normal and shouldn’t happen. But what causes it, and how can it be fixed?
The causes of spooler high CPU usage issue
The Spooler service is by no means a resource-hungry process that should overwhelm your computer, however small the processor is. When you check your Task Manager and notice the service is using up as much as 100 percent of the CPU, logic says there should be too many print jobs hanging in the spool that are waiting to be completed.
Completed print tasks can hang in the spool due to system glitches
You rarely ever have too many queued that spool can get overwhelmed. The only likely scenario would be a glitch in the system that would be preventing completed print jobs from automatically clearing from the queue. This means the computer will continue to assign memory and resources to tasks that have been completed already, thus overworking the CPU and depleting your RAM.
Printing jobs held up on the Microsoft Office image writer
Some users have been left stumped after experiencing high spooler CPU usage when in fact there were no print jobs either running currently or completed ones yet to be removed from the spool.
Upon investigation, they then found there were indeed printing jobs waiting to be completed. But these weren’t on the installed printer but rather on the Microsoft Office Image Writer.
Always check to see if this isn’t the source of the problem when your computer slows and the task manager shows a high spooler CPU usage.
A good place to check all print jobs currently queued for printing is the Print Management folder. Use the navigation string below to get there:
Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Print Management
The Print Management folder will show you all the print jobs currently queued. The folder will also show you all the printers installed on your printer and how many print jobs are queued on each.
Virus or malware infection
When you can’t find what could be causing the inexplicably high spooler CPU usage there is always a possibility a virus or malware may have infected your computer. The Spooler service has been found to be vulnerable to security breaches in some Windows OS versions.
A worm that is normally associated with this problem is known to cleverly camouflage itself by registering with the same spoolsv.exe process name.
The easiest way to validate if this process is indeed a worm is to check the process’ path. The authentic Spooler service is run from the %System% subfolder. While at that, also check the size of the spoolersv.exe process’ source folder. It should be around 61.440 bytes.
If the process’ source folder is much larger than the typical size, you can’t verify path of the spoolsv.exe process overworking your CPU, and you have eliminated the other possible causes we have discussed, you may sadly be dealing with a malware issue.
It is important you immediately install a capable internet security software to clean your computer and snuff out this threat before it spreads and causes even more damage.
How to fix spooler high CPU usage
A slow computer is a serious annoyance and productivity killer. Luckily the problem is usually quite easy to fix. As we have pointed out, if you had an anti-malware program already running on your PC, this would be the signal you need to bump up your security and update it or install a better one.
But one may think to just stop the spoolsv.exe process right there in the task manager. While this may give some relief, it isn’t a permanent solution as you will want to print some documents at some point. And stopping the spoolsv.exe process in the task manager while you have documents printing or still to print will also stop the printer itself.
A workaround when the printer queue won’t clear, or while you figure out the issue behind the ‘spooler high CPU usage’ problem, will be to print directly to the printer. Simply select the option in the print preferences.
This bypasses the Spooler service but will take away all the conveniences the application brings. It is also not a practical solution if you print a lot of documents from your computer.
Here are a few fixes you should try after you have ruled out malware infection as a potential source of the ‘spooler high CPU usage’ problem;
1. Manually remove completed print tasks from the spool
To manually empty the spool, first use the navigation path below to open the Services folder and stop the Print Spooler Service:
Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services
After you bring up the Services folder, stop the Spooler service by following these steps;
- Locate the Print Spooler service,
- Right click on it and select Stop,
- Keep the Services folder window open.
After that, head over to Windows Explorer and use the navigation string below to open the Printers folder:
Proceed to manually remove all of the folder’s contents. As you can see, mine is empty already. Afterwards, head back to the Services folder and restart the Spooler Printer service. Do that by simply right clicking on the service and choose the Start option. Your PC should run as normal again.
2. Reinstall the printer and update your drivers
At times even clearing everything in the spool will still not resolve the ‘spooler high CPU usage’ problem, or there may not be any print tasks hanging there. At this point, you should perhaps check to see if your computer is correctly configured.
The easiest way is to get into Print Management and uninstall your printers. You will also want to check and uninstall any Bluetooth printer you may have installed.
Before you reinstall your computer, make sure all your printer drivers are up-to-date. You can even check with your printer’s manufacturer to see if your current printer drivers are still compatible with the Windows version you are running.
There is always a chance there is an update you may have missed, especially if your PC is not configured to receive updates automatically.
3. Regularly scan and clean your computer to remove viruses and malware
That malware and viruses can be disguised as the spoolsv.exe executable file by hackers to get backdoor access to your computer is a real worry.
As this malware and viruses can be used to steal your passwords and other personal information, the spooler high CPU usage may prove to be the least of your worries should you get attacked.
Keep your malware defenses and anti-viruses regularly updated. And always check to see if you are running the latest versions of all the internet security software you are running on your computer.
It is also prudent to invest in a good registry scanning tool to stay on top of possible malicious entries to your PC’s registry files.
But generally, the best way to keep yourself safe is to exercise care and caution with the websites you browse, the email attachments you open, and the portable drivers you connect to your computer.
Hopefully, the solutions we have discussed here have helped you solve the ‘spooler high CPU usage’ problem. If the problem persists, it is always best to consult an expert, especially before you start making any changes in the Windows registry.
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