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Task Scheduler (svchost.exe -- taskeng.exe) keeping CPU spiked 24/7


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#1 domiflichi

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 11:50 AM

So I have an Oracle VirtualBox Virtual machine running Windows Vista Business 32-bit w/Service Pack 2. VirtualBox v5.0.14r105127 host running on my Windows 7 Pro 64-bit host. The Oracle VM VirtualBox Guest Editions version running on the Vista guest is the same as the host - v5.0.14r105127. The Vista VM has the following 'hardware' specs:

Intel Core i7 CPU 950 @ 3.07GHz

2.52 GB RAM

 

My problem (as the subject of this post states) is that I recently noticed that the CPU is constantly spiked (at about 90% spiked anyway). I only noticed because TurboTax 2016 kept locking up on me so I checked out Task Manager and that's when I saw it - 'svchost.exe' is taking up between 80% - 90% of my CPU - it's constantly changing between that range...it's technically not 'fixed' on one number). I don't know how long it has been this way unfortunately. I know I should have noticed when it started happening but this virtual machine has always ran slow. So it could have been doing this for a year (TurboTax 2015 never locked up on me like this).

 

Here's a couple screenshots of 'Windows Task Manager':

 

WindowsTaskManager-PerformanceTab.png

 

 

 

And the processes tab:

 

WindowsTaskManager-ProcessesTab.png

 

 

If I 'End Process' that process, my CPU goes back down to 'normal' usage. But then the process comes back within a few minutes, which starts causing the 'spiking' on my CPU again.

 

Looking further into this, I ran Sysinternals' 'Process Explorer:

 

ProcessExplorer-CPUspiking(withmarkups).

 

 

I can 'Kill Process' from there which stops the CPU spike, but then the process comes back and starts spiking it again.

 

I went into 'Administrative Tools --> Services' just to see if I could stop the 'Task Scheduler' service, but hit a brick wall there because everything (for the Task Scheduler' service) is grayed out (in the right-click context menu and the properties of the service)

 

Then I went into 'System Configuration' (msconfig) -- Services tab, unchecked the 'Task Scheduler' item, rebooted but the service still started. When I went back into 'System Configuration' -- Services tab, the checkbox for 'Task Scheduler' was checked. :(

 

Yes, I did thorough checks for malware/viruses. I did on-demand scans for viruses/malware with:

MalwareBytes Antimalware (this only found a few 'PUP's..nothing serious sounding)

TrendMicro HouseCall

Microsoft Safety Scanner

McAfee Stinger

Sophos Virus Removal Tool (I'm actually running this as I'm writing this forum post, but nothing found yet)

And I have the free BitDefender running as my active anti-virus program

All of these report no viruses, so I know it's not a virus.

 

I don't know why it would matter, but I took a couple screenshots of my Task Scheduler:

 

TaskScheduler-1.png

 

 

TaskScheduler-2.png

 

 

You can see that I've disabled 3 tasks, just leaving the one that I created a long time ago.

 

Of course I've searched Google, but didn't find any relevant matching problems compared to mine. I've run out of ideas for now so hoping someone out there may have an idea for what to do next.



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#2 lmacri

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 10:38 PM

Hi domiflichi :

Many Vista SP2 users are currently experiencing an issue with slow Windows Updates where the Windows Update Agent (wuaueng.dll), running under the Windows host process svchost.exe, will hang on the initial "Checking for updates..." phase of Windows Update and completely saturate an entire CPU core for long periods of time.  Please see post # 6 of Kayla77's thread Processes in Task Manager During Updates for instructions on to use your Process Explorer to see if wuaueng.dll is responsible for this high CPU consumption.  These "Checking for updates..." hangs can go on for several hours, and even days, and severely impact system performance.

 

Attached File  WU PE svchost wuauserv 14 Apr 2016.png   60KB   0 downloads

If you check your Windows Update history (Windows Update | View Update History) and/or installed updates (Control Panel | Programs | Programs and Features | View Installed Updates) you might find that your automatic Windows Updates did not successfully install the March 2017 Patch Tuesday updates released on 14-Mar-2017.  It is not uncommon for affected users to discover that they have not received updates for Vista SP2 and IE9 for several months.  [Hint: If your IE9 browser is fully patched as of March 2017 then Help | About Internet Explorer | Update Versions should be 9.0.59 (KB4012204)].

I don't know a great deal about configuring VMs, but assuming your Core i7 CPU has four cores, have you allocated all four of those cores to your Vista SP2 VM?  When the Windows Update Agent hangs during the "Checking for updates..." phase it normally only consumes one core of your CPU (i.e., 100% CPU activity for a single core CPU; 50% for a dual core; 25% for a quad core).

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32-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 * Firefox ESR v52.0.1 * NIS v22.9.1.12 * MBAM Premium v2.2.1


Edited by lmacri, 25 March 2017 - 10:42 PM.


#3 domiflichi

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 02:27 PM

Hello Imacri,

 

Thank you for your reply. I'm a little confused though on why you're mentioning Windows Updates. It's clearly the taskeng.exe (Task Scheduler Engine) that's spiking the CPU - I have it circled in my screenshot above. I don't even see any Windows Update processes on the list.

 

At the same time, I did look at my 'Windows Update | View update history' and I don't see any updates for March, only 1 for February, and only 2 for February. Are you saying that because I am missing updates I'm missing a 'fix' for the Task Scheduler that I don't have and that's why it's spiking?

 

Thanks.



#4 lmacri

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 06:35 PM

I'm a little confused though on why you're mentioning Windows Updates. It's clearly the taskeng.exe (Task Scheduler Engine) that's spiking the CPU - I have it circled in my screenshot above. I don't even see any Windows Update processes on the list.

 

At the same time, I did look at my 'Windows Update | View update history' and I don't see any updates for March, only 1 for February, and only 2 for February.

 

Hi domiflichi:

 

There are many instances of the Windows host process svchost.exe listed in Process Explorer and each of these host processes can run several related Windows services at the same time.  If you hover your mouse over the instance of svchost.exe consuming all your CPU you will see a pop-up with a list of services running under that one instance of svchost.exe, and that list likely includes Background Intelligent Transfer Server (BITS), Task Scheduler (Schedule), Windows Update (wuauserv), etc.as shown in the image below. You see the taskeng.exe processes listed under that instance of svchost.exe because you are using the default tree view in Process Explorer that shows the hierarchical parent / child relationship between processes (click the header for the Process column and the processes will re-sort themselves into alphabetical order; a few more clicks and you'll be back at tree view).  Your screenshot shows that the "parent" svchost.exe process is consuming lots of CPU but there's nothing there that shows that the "child" Task Scheduler is responsible - only that the two processes share a parent / child relationship.

 

Attached File  PE svchost taskeng.png   71KB   0 downloads

 

In Process Explorer you must right-click the svchost.exe process, select Properties and look at the Threads tab as instructed in post # 6 of Kayla77's thread Processes in Task Manager During Updates to find the actual service running under svchost.exe that is responsible for all that CPU consumption.  The Windows Update service wuauserv and Windows Update Agent wuaueng.dll dynamic link library shown in the image below (and consuming 50% of total CPU) are not executable .exe processes so they will never be displayed in the main list of processes in Process Explorer.

 

Attached File  WU PE svchost wuauserv 14 Apr 2016.png   60KB   0 downloads

 

Here's a test.  Terminate any Windows Update sessions running in the background by disabling automatic updates [Windows Update | Change settings | Important updates | Never check for updates (not recommended)] and then re-boot your system to apply the change.  Does your CPU consumption by that instance of svchost.exe decrease after the re-boot?  If yes, trigger a manual Windows Update (Windows Update |  Check for Updates).  Does the CPU consumption by svchost.exe increase again, and if you wait for 30 min or so does Windows Update find and install your dozen or so March 2017 Patch Tuesday updates or does it get stuck on "Checking for updates..."?

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32-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 * Firefox ESR v52.0.1 * NIS v22.9.1.12 * MBAM Premium v2.2.1


Edited by lmacri, 26 March 2017 - 06:59 PM.


#5 domiflichi

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Posted 29 March 2017 - 08:37 PM

Hi Imacri

You're right! I hovered my mouse over the svchost.exe instance in question and there were many items in the 'Services' list,
including BITS, Schedule, wuauserv (Windows Update). I just assumed that the taskeng.exe files were directly related to
that instance of the svchost.exe because they were 'under' the svchost.exe that's taking almost all of my CPU. Thank you
so much for explaining this to me. I would've gotten nowhere fast because I thought I knew what I was looking for.

 

So I did your test - changed the WIndows update settings to 'Never check for updates (not recommended)' and rebooted. When it
came back up, the CPU never spiked...so that was awesome! And then after a while, I triggered a manual update like you said by clicking on

 

And then after a while, I triggered a manual update like you said by clicking on 'Check for Updates' in the Windows Update area, and sure enough, my CPU started spiking again. :( Additionally, it's been 'Checking for updates...' for over 24 hours now and has presented me with no updates of any kind - it just seems to be stuck on that screen (the progress bar is still moving though). I guess I can wait another couple days if I have to, but it sounds like from what you're saying it should have found some updates and ask me if I want to install them by now?

Thank you again so much Imacri!



#6 lmacri

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 07:22 AM

...I triggered a manual update like you said by clicking on 'Check for Updates' in the Windows Update area, and sure enough, my CPU started spiking again. :( Additionally, it's been 'Checking for updates...' for over 24 hours now and has presented me with no updates of any kind - it just seems to be stuck on that screen (the progress bar is still moving though). I guess I can wait another couple days if I have to, but it sounds like from what you're saying it should have found some updates and ask me if I want to install them by now?

 

Hi domiflichi:

 

These "Checking for updates..." hangs have become a very common problem on Vista SP2 machines.  Fortunately, there is a well-established workaround originally documented by German blogger Dalai at http://wu.krelay.de/en/ that requires users to manually install a small number of "speed up" patches (typically one new patch each month for a Windows kernel-mode driver update for Win32k.sys or a Microsoft graphics component).  This workaround should reduce the initial "Checking for updates..." phase of Windows Update from several hours (or even days) down to minutes or a few hours.

 

The full set of required speed up patches are listed in the step-by-step instructions on page 1 of m#l's thread Updates not working, it has been searching for updates for hours in the MS Answers forum and you only need to install the speed up patches that are missing from your system.  The number of speed up patches you require (and the amount of time it will take "Checking for updates.." to finish) will depend on the number of months it's been since Windows Update last ran successfully on your machine.

If you're certain that your system was fully patched as of January 2017 then you should only need to pre-install the latest speed up patch KB4012497 (MS17-018 Security Update for Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers and for Microsoft Graphics Component: March 14, 2017).  If your IE9 browser hasn't been updated for a few months then pre-installing KB4012204 (MS17-006 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 9 for Windows Vista: March 14, 2017) might also help to reduce your "Checking for updates..." hang this month.  Download links and installation instructions for the standalone .msu installers are included in m#l's thread.

Just a warning that having a Microsoft Office and/or Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack product installed that receives security updates via Windows Update can significantly increase these "Checking for updates..." hangs  - see Note 6 of the instructions in m#l's thread.  Volume Z has posted download links for the March 2017 security updates for Office-related products in peggybeggs' thread why has vista stopped automatic updates? that you can also pre-install to help speed up Windows Update if this applies to you.

An alternate solution to installing speed up patches is to use Torsten Wittrock's WSUS Offline Update tool to download and install all important security updates for Vista SP2, IE9 and MS Office.  See Note 6 of the instructions in m#l's thread as well as it0uchpod's feedback in ScousaJAY's thread windows update just seems to hang while checking in the VistaForums. This tool will automatically install almost every security update normally delivered by Windows Update.
_______________________

Aside:  Having each instance of svchost.exe host one or more Windows services uses fewer system resources (having a separate process for each service would consume more memory) and facilitates sharing of code and data between related services.  The How-To Geek article What Is the Service Host Process (svchost.exe) and Why Are So Many Running? explains why Microsoft started moving Windows functionality away from .EXE executables like the Task Scheduler engine (taskeng.exe) in favour of .DLL dynamic link libraries like the Windows Update Agent (wuaueng.dll).

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32-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 * Firefox ESR v52.0.2 * NIS v22.9.1.12 * MBAM Premium v2.2.1


Edited by lmacri, 30 March 2017 - 07:16 PM.


#7 domiflichi

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 10:14 PM

Hi Imacri,

 

Thank you so much for all the info and help. Reading your post and all the info from the sites that you linked to, I got a little overwhelmed. What I ended up doing is just waiting it out. Wanna know how long it took before Windows Update was done 'Checking for Updates'?

OVER 5 DAYS!

I'm not sure exactly how long it took because I forgot to check in on it Saturday and Sunday. I checked this morning and it was finally ready. I had it install the updates (only took a few minutes), it rebooted, and all seems good!

I tried a couple more times to have it check for updates, and it only took a minute or 2 and didn't find any more updates.

The strange thing is that when I look at my Update History, it shows no updates at all for March, only 1 for February, 2 in January. There's about 15 for this month though.

 

Anyway, thank you again so much! I learned something valuable regarding the way that Process Explorer works too!



#8 lmacri

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 07:31 AM

Reading your post and all the info from the sites that you linked to, I got a little overwhelmed. What I ended up doing is just waiting it out. Wanna know how long it took before Windows Update was done 'Checking for Updates'? OVER 5 DAYS!..

 

Hi domiflichi:

 

Unfortunately, your slow Windows Updates and "Checking for updates..." hangs will return when Microsoft releases its last batch of security updates on 11-Apr-2017 (a.k.a. "Patch Tuesday" on the second Tuesday of the month).

If you don't want to leave Windows Update running five or six days to deliver your April 2017 Patch Tuesday updates, go to Dalai's website at http://wu.krelay.de/en/ on 11-Apr-2017 or 12-Apr-2017 to see the KB number of the next speed up patch(es) that you will need to install to prevent another "Checking for updates..." hang.  I'll also be revising my step-by-step instructions on page 1 of m#l's thread Updates not working, it has been searching for updates for hours in the MS Answers forum once I've had a chance to test his recommended speed up patch on my own 32-bit Vista SP2 machine.  If you want to try Dalai's workaround and have problems following my instructions be sure to post back and ask for help.

Since you are fully patched as of March 2017 it should be a fairly straightforward process on 11-Apr-2017.  Set Windows Update to Never Check for Updates and re-boot to stop any Windows Update session already running in the background, download and install the .msu installer for the latest speed up patch recommended by Dalai, and run Windows Update to install your remaining dozen or so April 2017 Patch Tuesday updates.  If you have MS Office installed on your system then there are additional speed up patches that should also help to speed up Windows Update, but this will be covered in the instructions in m#l's thread.

 

The strange thing is that when I look at my Update History, it shows no updates at all for March, only 1 for February, 2 in January. There's about 15 for this month though.

 

That's normal, since your update history shows the date the update was installed, not the date it was released. The 15 or so updates that were just installed by Windows Update were likely the security updates released on 14-Mar-2017 for the March 2017 Patch Tuesday updates.  Here's a screenshot of the March 2017 Patch Tuesday updates that were installed on my own machine on 15-Mar-2017:

 

Attached File  Windows Update History 15 Mar 2017.png   34.08KB   0 downloads

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32-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 * Firefox ESR v52.0.2 * NIS v22.9.1.12 * MBAM Premium v2.2.1


Edited by lmacri, 04 April 2017 - 07:44 AM.


#9 domiflichi

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 08:13 AM

Hello Imacri,

 

Ok, I didn't realize that. Thank you very much for another informative post/reply. I'll play by ear about how things go. I'll try to keep this thread updated, but will definitely reply back when/if something goes wrong. ;)






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