Windows Update 100% CPU usage issue - a NEW twist on an old proble

Discussion in 'Windows Update' started by Asker of stupid questions, May 10, 2008.

  1. Posting this hoping that someone in the WIndows Update team is aware of and
    looking at this problem. I am 100% sure there is a new issue with
    servicehost.exe process taking 100% CPU. The bahavior is similar but
    actually worse than the problem of a year or so ago that was patched. This
    is a NEW issue.

    Since Tuesday a significant number of our customers (most are fully up to
    date XP SP2, all flavors) are having issues with Windows update taking 100%
    of CPU. On a single processor system the PC goes to 100% CPU and never
    clears, we have left 2 systems over 5+ hours. On a hyper threaded or dual
    core CPU one thread runs the one cpu to 100% but the remainder of the PC is
    stable. A work-around is disabling auto-update.

    We have had 2 Vista systems showing similar behavior but not to the same
    scale as XP BTW so something is clearly in need of review.

    It does not appear to be SP3 itself, nor does it appear to be a latency/load
    issue on the WU servers. The PCs we have had this on are all different OEMs,
    different ISPs, different sites etc. the common thread is this one service
    that gets stuck and never clears, unlike the similar issue a year ago that
    would eventually clear.

    MSFT, please get on top of this before it snowballs.
    Asker of stupid questions, May 10, 2008
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  2. One question - you stated, "most are fully up to date XP SP2, all flavors"
    then state, "It does not appear to be SP3 itself" <- do you mean it does not
    appear to be the attempted installation of SP3?

    I have not seen this issue on the few hundred I have running SP2+ all
    updates right before SP3 nor on the couple of hundred running SP3 - so...
    There must be more to this.
    Shenan Stanley, May 10, 2008
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  3. FYI - These PCs are not in a managed environment, these are all stand alone,
    a mix of pro and home.
    The issue appears not to be the download of SP3 itself. It happens at the
    initial review of WU on the PC when WU is deciding what needs to be done
    with/to the PC.
    PCs are at SP2 when they get stuck, we have had a couple that sp3 install
    "fixed" the issue but most are not getting that far, and some post SP3
    install are still getting stuck in the same way.

    it is random, in terms of who gets impacted but the impacted behavior is
    Asker of stupid questions, May 10, 2008
  4. Are the machines updating via WSUS?

    Are all machines running Windows Update Agent 3.0, v7.0.6000.381?

    Is KB927891 installed on all WinXP SP2 machines?
    ~Robear Dyer (PA Bear)
    MS MVP-Windows (IE, OE, Security, Shell/User)
    AumHa VSOP & Admin;

    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 10, 2008
  5. Asker of stupid questions

    Paul142857 Guest

    I just had this same problem yesterday with an attempted update and sent a
    request for help to support. My computer is not on a network and has XP home
    edition with SP2. (I don't think that it has done an automatic update to
    SP3.) Yesterday the update scan of my system was taking longer than usual
    and since I had to leave I ended up shutting everything down before it was
    done. The shut-down took longer than usual. The next time that I booted up
    the entire system bogged down and the CPU was running at almost 100% on
    something. It would take it almost 5 minutes to respond to a single mouse
    click. I ended up restoring the system to some settings from about a month
    ago and turned off the automatic update. I will carefully follow the
    postings here and hope to hear back on my question from an MS tech within 24

    Paul142857, May 12, 2008
  6. Asker of stupid questions

    shayward Guest

    This started happening to my XP Home SP2 notebook last week. It's not on a
    domain (although I have a small home-network). Basically, an instance of
    SVCHOST.EXE would run up to 100% about 30-60 seconds after getting to my
    desktop and it would start consuming memory until it hit > 100MB.

    Ending the offending SVCHOST process disabled audio and networking.
    Restarting the effected services does not fix the problem.

    So basically my notebook was unusable.

    Some forums posts from back in 2006 and 2007 pointed to Automatic Updates. I
    install updates regularly (as they are available).

    Using Process Explorer, I confirmed that Automatic Updates is the problem
    and I disabled it using MSCONFIG. My CPU is now idling.

    So some update that Microsoft recently pushed out is likely the cause of the
    problem. I'm going to keep watching but for right now I am not going to
    re-enable automatic updates.
    shayward, May 12, 2008
  7. Please begin a new thread about your problem.
    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 12, 2008
  8. Asker of stupid questions

    Ron D. Guest

    Very interesting and agree this is a new issue. My issues start about the
    same time when XP SP3 auto update showed up. The auto update never finished
    and resulted in the 100% of svchost.exe (windows update). Searched the web
    for fixes and got suggestion, but none work so far. And everytime I go to
    windows update site and run the check, with 30-60 seconds, my CPM maxes out.

    So what is the fix for this issue?
    Ron D.
    Ron D., May 12, 2008
  9. CA Antivirus has been identified as one of the causes of the CPU
    utilization issue. It was either an updated DAT or engine update that
    causes this. Configure CA to not scan .msi and .msp files for now and
    hope that CA issues a less troublesome DAT/engine update:
    For other systems where SP3 has been applied and the issue is occurring
    without CA being present, suggest downloading and installing the latest
    Version of the Windows Update Agent.

    Links to the WUA and instructions on installing it can be viewed here:

    MowGreen [MVP 2003-2008]
    *-343-* FDNY
    Never Forgotten
    MowGreen [MVP], May 12, 2008
  10. Asker of stupid questions

    benoitm Guest

    I recently did a fresh reinstall of Win XP Pro with SP3
    And I noticed the same 100% CPU utilization in svchost (Automatic Updates)
    for 1~2 minutes every now and then.
    I use Avira AntiVir Personal & Spybot's TeaTimer - any known interactions
    with WU ?
    I can try disabling Teatimer, but I would like to avoid removing Avira
    (and/or replacing it with another AV).


    benoitm, May 13, 2008
  11. Were both AntiVir and Tea Timer enabled when you installed SP3?
    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 13, 2008
  12. Asker of stupid questions

    benoitm Guest

    No, I installed SP3 very early in the software installation process, and
    certainly before AntiVir or Tea Timer were installed.

    In the meantime, I discovered that manually accessing the WU site causes the
    same symptom. I will try to access the WU site with AntiVir & Tea Timer
    disabled ASAP & post the result here.

    benoitm, May 13, 2008
  13. Asker of stupid questions

    Paul142857 Guest

    I posted about this problem earlier and since then the MS tech contacted me
    with a solution and it seems to have worked. (BTW, another online discussion
    indicates that this could also be connected to the CA antivirus software that
    I use.) At anyrate, here is what the MS tech told me to do...

    Step 1: Prepare a Clean Boot environment.


    Before we do so, please first enable the Windows Firewall:

    a. Click "Start", click "Run", type "WSCUI.CPL" then click OK. This will
    generate the Windows Security Center application.

    b. In the Windows Security Center window, click Windows Firewall.

    c. Select the option "On (recommended)" to turn on Windows Firewall.

    1. Click Start and Click Run, and in the "Open" line, type in "MSCONFIG"
    (without the quotation marks) and click OK.

    2. Under the Service tab, check "Hide All Microsoft Services", and then
    click "Disable All" button. In this way, we can disable all the services
    which belong to third-party programs.

    3. Under the Startup tab, click "Disable All" button.

    4. Click OK.

    5. Choose Yes to restart the computer.

    6. Check "Don't show this message or launch the system configuration utility
    when Windows starts".

    Step 2: Rename the temporary folder of Windows Update.


    1. Click Start, click Run, and type "cmd" (without the quotes) and press
    Enter. Please run the following command in the opened window to stop the
    Automatic Updates service.

    Type in "net stop WuAuServ" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

    Note: Please look at the cmd window and make sure it says that it was
    successfully stopped before we try to rename the folder. However, if it
    failed, please let me know before performing any further steps and include
    any error messages you may have received when it failed.

    2. Click Start, click Run, and type in "%windir%" (without the quotes) and
    press Enter.

    3. In the opened folder, look for the folder named "SoftwareDistribution".

    4. Right-click on the folder, select Rename and type "SDold" (without the
    quotes) to rename this folder.

    5. Click Start, click Run, and type "cmd" (without the quotes) and press

    Type the command "net start WuAuServ" (without the quotes) in the opened
    window to restart the Automatic Updates service.

    Note: Please look at the cmd window and make sure it says that it was
    successfully started. However, if it failed, please let me know before
    performing any further steps and include any error messages you may have
    received when it failed.

    Step 3: Visit the Windows Update site.


    Open Internet Explorer, and click Tools-> Windows Update to install Windows
    Update from the website again. If the issue persists, please capture a
    screenshot when the issue occurs, and send the picture file to me for further

    After we install the updates successfully, please return to the Normal

    1. Click Start, click Run, and in the "Open" line, type in MSCONFIG and
    click OK.

    2. Choose "Normal Startup" and then click OK.

    3. Restart the computer.

    Please test the issue again via the Windows Update website and let me know
    the result. If the issue persists, to clarify the issue and provide more
    accurate troubleshooting steps, please assist me in collecting the following
    Paul142857, May 13, 2008
  14. And I noticed the same 100% CPU utilization in svchost (Automatic
    Every now and then is not unusual; prolonged or unending spikes of 100% are
    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 14, 2008
  15. Asker of stupid questions

    Steve Guest

    Thanks Paul.

    These instructions will work.

    I used the instructions posted previously by DVO in a past thread. It's
    slightly faster than the instructions from the Microsoft Technician.

    Execute each of the following commands from the command prompt
    (Start->Run->cmd [enter]):

    regsvr32 MSXML3.dll
    regsvr32 WUAUENG1.dll
    regsvr32 WUAPI.DLL
    regsvr32 WUAUENG.DLL
    regsvr32 WUAUENG1.DLL
    regsvr32 ATL.DLL
    regsvr32 WUCLTUI.DLL
    regsvr32 WUPS.DLL
    regsvr32 WUPS2.DLL
    regsvr32 WUWEB.DLL
    net stop WuAuServ
    rename %windir%\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution_buggy
    net start WuAuServ

    I've had this issue occur on two friends' computers and have been able to
    fix it by executing the above commands. The issue seems to have coincided
    with the release of XP SP3 and unfortunately installing SP3 does not solve
    the issue.

    Steve, May 14, 2008
  16. Asker of stupid questions

    benoitm Guest

    Being unable to perform any useful work for 2 minutes shortly after I wake up
    from hibernation my 2 GHz laptop does not seem acceptable to me, especially
    since this problem did not exist previously (i.e. when I had XP SP2)...I
    wouldn't call 2 minutes of 100% CPU a "spike"...If at least the offending
    process was running in a lower priority !
    benoitm, May 14, 2008
  17. Asker of stupid questions

    benoitm Guest

    I just ran the following test:
    - Disabled Avira AntiVir Guard
    - Exited TeaTimer
    I then manually went to Windows Update

    Result: more than 3 minutes at 100% CPU !

    After installation of a couple of Office updates, I then restarted my laptop.
    As I am writing this, the fan is again spinning at 100% just like the CPU,
    and Process Explorer is already reporting 4:23 minutes of CPU time for
    svhost.exe, of which 3:40 min just for wuaueng.dll....

    Any suggestions for further t'shooting would be welcome
    benoitm, May 14, 2008
  18. Try these, in order:

    • Change your default update source from Microsoft Update to Windows Update:

    Go to Microsoft Update | Click on Change Settings in left pane | Scroll to
    bottom of page | To Stop Using Microsoft Update | Disable Microsoft Update
    software and let me use Windows Update only (check).

    With Windows Update as your default, you will need to check in at Office
    Update to keep your Office applications fully patched:

    • Delete or rename SoftwareDistribution folder:

    1. Stop the Automatic Updates service:

    Start > Run > (type in) services.msc > [OK]
    Double-click Automatic Updates > Click on Stop
    (Stopping the service will take a moment)

    2. Delete %windir%\SoftwareDistribution <=this folder or rename it (e.g.,

    NB: The above step will have the consequence of deleting your Update History
    at Windows Update.

    3. Start the Automatic Updates service:

    Start > Run > (type in) services.msc > [OK]
    Double-click Automatic Updates > Click on Start
    (Starting the service will take a moment)
    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 14, 2008
  19. Asker of stupid questions

    RealityBytes Guest

    Thank you! My notebook no longer pegs at 100% CPU every time it starts, and
    Windows Update actually finds updates instead of burning a hole through my

    This started for me about 2 days ago, first it only affected Windows Update
    (but not Automatic Update) on a machine that was installed 4 days ago! Clean
    install of SP3 slipstream, etc. I started installing Office 2003, and the
    issue(s) started, and I wasn't about to spend another 12 hours reinstalling
    the machine either.

    This is an issue, probably related to the MSI/MSP issue of 2007, and it's
    going to affect a lot of people. If MS wants logs of either WindowsUpdate or
    something under SoftwareDistribution, please let me know because I now know
    this isn't an isolated issue, and I have backups that I can retrieve.

    Basic repro is:
    1) Install Windows XP SP3 slipstream
    2) Run Windows Update (IE7, etc. etc.)
    3) Install Office 2003
    4) Install Office SP3 from network install
    5) Run Windows Update again

    As you can see, this is a pretty standard setup on a new install, and
    something like this should never have happened. My poor laptop has been
    spinning it's fan off for the past two days trying to get Windows Update to
    recognize itself, now I can give it a rest for a while.

    Thanks again.
    RealityBytes, May 15, 2008
  20. YW. You may need this, too:

    Updates are not installed successfully from Windows Update, from Microsoft
    Update, or by using Automatic Updates after you repair a Windows XP

    NB: Also applies to clean installs, upgrade installs, and Recovery installs.
    ~Robear Dyer (PA Bear)
    MS MVP-IE, Mail, Security, Windows Desktop Experience - since 2002
    AumHa VSOP & Admin
    PA Bear [MS MVP], May 15, 2008
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