Explorer.exe high CPU usage in Windows 10 [Full Fix]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • If your PC has 100% disk usage over long periods of time, it will affect its functionality.
  • Many users reported the Explorer.exe high CPU usage issue that affects the performance their PCs.
  • This is not an uncommon issue, as you will see from our dedicated CPU Usage Fix Hub.
  • Even more troubleshooting guides can be found on our website's Windows 10 section.
How to fix Explorer.exe high CPU usage in Windows 10 [Full Fix]

High CPU usage can be a problem, and many reported this issue with explorer.exe on Windows 10.

This problem can significantly affect your performance, and in today’s article we’ll show you how to deal with it.

High CPU usage can be an annoying problem, and speaking of which, here are some similar issues that users reported:

  • Windows explorer hogging CPU Windows 10 – This issue can occur if your system is infected by malware. However, you should be able to fix the issue by performing a full system scan.
  • Windows 10 explorer high CPU utilization – This is a variation of the original error, and in most cases you can fix the problem simply by removing the problematic application from your PC.
  • Windows explorer constant CPU usage – Another common issue that can occur with Windows Explorer is a constant CPU usage. This can be caused by temporary files, so be sure to remove them.
  • Explorer.exe high CPU usage when moving mouse – This is a slightly unusual issue, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.

How can I fix explorer.exe high CPU usage on Windows 10?

  1. Check for malware
  2. Disable cloud storage clients
  3. Remove old and temporary files
  4. Check for unordinary desktop icons
  5. Install the latest updates
  6. Perform a Clean boot
  7. Clear the contents of the Temp folder
  8. Delete the audioses.dll
  9. Use chkdsk scan

1. Check for malware

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Sometimes explorer.exe high CPU usage can occur due to certain malware. A certain process can be running in the background without your knowledge, and that can cause high CPU usage on your PC.

If you’re having this issue on your PC, we advise you to perform a full system scan and check if that solves the problem.

If your antivirus is unable to find the malware, or if you’re not using an antivirus at all, you might want to download and try Vipre Antivirus Plus.

This antivirus offers great protection against all sorts of malware, and it won’t impact your performance in any way, so be sure to try it out.

Once you perform a full system scan, the issue should be resolved.

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2. Disable cloud storage clients

According to users, sometimes this issue can occur due to cloud storage services such as Dropbox or OneDrive.

These services can sync files automatically in the background and that can cause explorer.exe high CPU usage to occur.

To fix the problem, users are recommending to disable OneDrive and uninstall Dropbox temporarily and see if that solves the problem.

There are several ways to uninstall an application, but the most effective one is to use an uninstaller software such as IObit Uninstaller.

This software will remove all files and registry entries associated with the application you’re uninstalling, ensuring that there are no leftover files that can interfere with your system.

If you need additional info on how to uninstall a program or an app in Windows 10, take a look at our useful guide.

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3. Remove old and temporary files

  1. Press Windows Key + S, and type disk.
  2. Select Disk Cleanup.
  3. Make sure that your System drive, by default C, is selected and click OK.
    Windows explorer constant CPU usage
  4. Your PC will now scan the selected drive. This process usually takes a couple of seconds.
  5. Select the files you want to remove and click OK.
  6. If you want, you can click the Clean system files button in order to remove additional files.
    Explorer.exe high CPU usage when moving mouse

If you’re having problems with explorer.exe high CPU usage, the problem might be caused by old and temporary files.

Windows creates hundreds of temporary files, and sometimes these files can interfere with your system, so it’s advised to remove them.

The best way to do that is to use the Disk Cleanup application. After removing temporary files, check if the problem is still there.

Disk Cleanup is a solid tool, but many users prefer using CCleaner over this app simply because it has some additional features available.

CCleaner allows you to remove browsing history, clean your registry, and so much more, so if you want to be sure that temporary files aren’t interfering with your system, you might want to try it out.

CCleaner

CCleaner

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4. Check for unordinary desktop icons

Sometimes explorer.exe high CPU usage can occur due to certain icons on your desktop. This is an unusual occurrence, but it can sometimes occur on your PC.

Apparently, the issue is caused by a file or a shortcut on your desktop that doesn’t have an icon. For some reasons, these types of files cause issues such as high CPU usage with explorer.exe.

However, to fix the problem, you just have to remove files/shortcuts without icons from the desktop and the problem will be resolved.


5. Install the latest updates

  1. Pres the Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Update & Security section.
  3. Click on the Check for updates button.
  4. Windows will check for available updates and download them automatically in the background.
  5. Restart your PC to install them, and check if the problem is still there.

If you’re having issues with explorer.exe high CPU usage on your PC, the problem might be the missing updates.

Windows 10 is a solid operating system, but sometimes certain bugs can appear and cause high CPU issues.

However, you can fix this problem simply by installing the latest updates. Windows 10 usually installs the updates automatically, but you can always check for updates on your own.


Having trouble updating your Windows? Check out this guide.


6. Perform a Clean boot

  1. Press Windows Key + R, type msconfig, and click OK.
    Windows explorer hogging CPU Windows 10
  2. Go to the Services tab, and check the Hide all Microsoft services option.
  3. Click the Disable all button.
    Windows 10 explorer high CPU utilization
  4. Head over to the Startup tab and click Open Task Manager.
    Windows explorer constant CPU usage
  5. Right-click the first entry on the list and choose Disable from the menu.
  6. Perform this step until you disable all startup applications.Windows 10 explorer high CPU utilization
  7. Head back to the System Configuration window.
  8. Click on Apply and OK to save changes, and restart your PC.

Once your PC restarts, check if the problem is still there. If not, enable services and applications one by one until you manage to recreate the problem.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to restart your PC every time after you enable a group of services or applications.

According to users, sometimes explorer.exe high CPU usage can occur due to third-party applications on your PC.

Many applications and services tend to start automatically with Windows, and that can cause this and many other problems to appear.

However, you can fix this issue simply by performing a Clean boot. In Clean boot state all startup applications and services should be disabled allowing you to troubleshoot the problem.

If you want to know how to add or remove startup apps on Windows 10, check out our simple guide.


7. Clear the contents of the Temp folder

Windows explorer hogging CPU Windows 10

  1. Navigate to the C:WindowsTemp directory.
  2. Delete all files inside of Temp folder.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  4. Locate Windows Explorer, right-click it, and choose Restart from the menu.

After restarting Windows Explorer, the problem should be completely resolved.

According to users, explorer.exe high CPU usage can sometimes be caused by files in the Temp directory.

To fix this issue, users are recommending to remove them manually and restart Windows Explorer.


8. Delete the audioses.dll

    1. Go to the following directory: C:/Windows/System32
    2. Locate audioses.dll and move it to your Desktop.
      Windows explorer constant CPU usage
    3. Go to the following directory: C:/Windows/Sys/WOW64
    4. Locate audioses.dll, and move it to a different directory.

If you’re having explorer.exe high CPU usage, the problem might be related to the audioses.dll file.

According to users, this file can sometimes cause this and other problems to occur, and the only way to fix this issue is to remove this file.

After doing that, the problem with high CPU usage should be resolved.

This isn’t the most reliable solution, and modifying the contents of the Windows directory is usually not advised, so be sure to use extra caution.

If any new problems occur, restore these two files to their original locations.


9. Use chkdsk scan

Explorer.exe high CPU usage when moving mouse

  1. In the Cortana search field, type in Command Prompt.
  2. Right-click the top result, and select Run as Administrator.
  3. Run the chkdsk /f :X command.
  4. Be sure to replace the X with the letter that represents your system drive. For most users, that would be C.
  5. You’ll be asked to schedule a scan, so press Y to do so.

Sometimes explorer.exe high CPU usage problem can occur due to corrupted files on your PC. This can be a problem, but you can fix it simply by performing a chkdsk scan.

Once you restart your PC, the chkdsk scan will automatically start and try to repair your files. This process can take about 10 minutes, or even more depending on the size of your hard drive, so be patient.

If you’re having trouble accessing Command Prompt as an admin, then you better take a closer look at our useful guide.


Explorer.exe high CPU usage can be an annoying problem, but you should be able to fix it by using our solutions.

Don’t forget to tells us whether these steps helped you deal with the problem. You can do that in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2018 and was revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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  • This worked for me. I followed all the other steps except the audioses.DLL move before I identified that it was a specific icon on the desktop causing 100% CPU usage by Explorer.exe while the Desktop kept refreshing (flashing icons) & the Taskbar icons disappeared intermittently. The specific issue turned out to be the missing icon for a Desktop shortcut.