Fix NTOSKRNL.exe high CPU, Memory & Disk usage problem

NTOSKRNL.exe file is a kernel image that is responsible for many systems based processes like Hardware Virtualization, Process, and Memory. Among these, it is also responsible for compressing the old pages of memory which reduces the overall amount of memory being used. There are chances that if your computer is running slowly and you find NTOSKRNL.exe hogging on your resources like CPU Usage, Disk Usage, and Memory Usage, then you need to take a look at few things. Normally, this process uses less than 30% of CPU, but in case that is constantly up, then this post will help you.

NTOSKRNL.exe high CPU, Memory & Disk usage

NTOSKRNL stands for NT Operating System Kernel. So, in order to fix it, we need to undertake one of the following fixes,

  1. Scan your computer for potential malware
  2. Remove incompatible programs
  3. Run DISM to repair system image
  4. Stop the Runtime Broker process
  5. Update your Drivers
  6. Run Performance Troubleshooter
  7. Troubleshoot in Clean Boot State
  8. Use Windows Performance Toolkit to find the root cause.

1] Scan your computer for potential malware

There might be a good chance that your computer might be infected with malware. And this malware might be associated with the NTOSKRNL.exe file and hence making it consume a lot of system resources. So, I would really recommend you to make sure that your Antivirus is up to date and then scan your computer with it specifically the C:\Windows\System32 folder because this is the location where the NTOSKRNL.exe file is located.

2] Remove incompatible programs

Installing and running incompatible programs might also trigger such unusual behavior with system files. There might be instances when to execute a particular sub-task inside of the major task. Hence, might be stuck in some sort of loop and end in hogging up to the system resources. Hence, it is advised to uninstall such software and check if the issue is fixed or not.

3] Run DISM Command

NTOSKRNL.exe error
When you run DISM (Deployment Imaging and Servicing Managemen) tool, it will repair Windows System Image and Windows Component Store in Windows 10. All of the system inconsistencies and corruptions should be fixed. You can either use Powershell or command prompt to execute this command.

4] Stop the Runtime Broker process

RuntimeBroker.exe monitors access to Windows API’s and ensure that apps do not violate the core security of Windows. RuntimeBroker.exe normally leaves very a small footprint. In some cases, RuntimeBroker.exe may consume more resources but does not release memory after the work is done, resulting in a memory leak. This affects NTOSKRNL.exe.

Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager. Locate Runtime Broker under the Processes tab. If it’s using more than 15% of your memory, you probably have an issue with an app on your PC. In this case, you need to stop the Runtime Broker process. Select it, right-click on it and then click on End Task.

See if this helps.

5] Update your Drivers

The incompatibility between the Operating System and the Driver might also give rise to issues like this. So, you can try to Update your drivers.  You can also try to Update your copy of Windows 10. This will help you fix any bad sectors created by any intendedly or unintendedly executed task on the computer. Hence, keeping Windows 10 up to date always is highly recommended as it fixes the possibilities of a whole lot of errors.

6] Run Performance Troubleshooter

Open Run box, type the following and hit Enter:

msdt.exe /id PerformanceDiagnostic

This starts the Performance Troubleshooter. Run it and see if it has any issues to fix.

7] Troubleshoot in Clean Boot State

You can troubleshoot further manually by performing a Clean Boot. A Clean Boot starts a system with minimal drivers and startup programs. When you start the computer in clean boot, the computer starts by using a pre-selected minimal set of drivers and startup programs, and because the computer starts with a minimal set of drivers, some programs may not work as you expected.

Clean-boot troubleshooting is designed to isolate a performance problem. To perform clean-boot troubleshooting, you must disable or enable one process at a time, and then restart the computer after each action. If the problem goes away, you know that it was the last process which was creating the problem.

8] Use Windows Performance Toolkit to find the root cause

You might need to use the Windows Performance Toolkit to find the root cause of this issue. Open Command Prompt by searching for cmd in the Cortana search box or hit WINKEY+R to launch the Run utility and type cmd and hit Enter.

Now, type in the following command, and hit Enter:

xperf -on latency -stackwalk profile -buffersize 1024 -MaxFile 256 -FileMode Circular && timeout -1 && xperf -d cpuusage.etl

Wait for at least 60 seconds for this command to run.

Now check the logs of this Windows Performance Toolkit. They are stored in a file named as cpuusage.etl in the C:\Windows\System32 folder.

This will list all the causes of this System Resources being hogged.

Hope something here helps you.

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Ayush has been a Windows enthusiast since the day he got his first PC with Windows 98SE. He is an active Windows Insider since Day 1 and is now a Windows Insider MVP. He has been testing pre-release services on his Windows 10 PC, Lumia, and Android devices.