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I have noticed on several Windows 7 machines that Windows updates and Windows driver search can cause svchost.exe to consume excessive amount of RAM.

In the case of Windows updates, it seems that all the updates get downloaded to RAM, cached, and then you experience the joy of installing them while the machine is operational, and again at reboot. I have these machines set to never download, update, or notify the user of updates, because svchost.exe, TrustedInstaller.exe, and wau...exe all go haywire under any other setting. svchost.exe will still consume the massive amounts of RAM under any of other the options for Windows updates. Therefore, I now manually check and install updates once a week.

in the case of Windows driver search, when you plug in a new device, Windows will consume an excessive amount of RAM while it's probing, analyzing, and downloading a driver for the device. The most prominent example is when I attempted to connect a 3TB drive to a machine. My laptop was not able to connect to the device. It was a Core i7 with 4GB of RAM. I plugged the drive into a desktop with 16GB of RAM. I don't recall if this machine had crazy RAM usage trying to cess out the drive. However, the laptop got an upgrade to 12GB of RAM, so I connected the drive to it. RAM usage for svchost spiked to 3GB. I've seen similar, but not as extreme, behavior almost any time I plug in a new device.

These machines are all Core i7s of some variety with 12GB of RAM and up. Not light specs, though maybe that's only average for 2015?

I have researched this phenomenon before, and while I have found many people asking similar questions, I have not found solutions to the problem.

Is there a way to mitigate this behavior?

Relevant links:

Windows 7 SVCHOST consumes copius RAM when searching for drivers

Windows 7 checking for Windows Updates cause memory use to blow up

Automatic driver search & update on Windows?

Windows 7 driver search woefully slow

How do I troubleshoot high 'svchost.exe' usage in Windows 7?

How I analyzed svchost high CPU utilization problem

svchost.exe Hogging CPU on Fresh XP Install

How to stop wuauserv

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    I have never seen this. Are you sure it's not caused by a faulty driver present on both machines or some software that you have installed? – gronostaj Jul 20 '15 at 15:04
  • @gronostaj: Oh, it happens and is quite well known issue. It even got it's own fix from Microsoft (as I noted in answer below). However, certain conditions must be met, so you may have not encountered it. – AcePL Jul 20 '15 at 15:21
  • @Moab; I'm not having high CPU usage, I'm having high RAM usage. Thanks for the link, but that doesn't address the problem. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jul 20 '15 at 15:57
  • I will assume it is high disk access rather than memory usage that is bogging down the PC. Memory is super fast as long as you have enough, which seems you do. – Moab Jul 20 '15 at 16:16
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    It wouldn't hurt to run a chkdsk /f and an sfc /scannow. Though the likely fix, as noted below, is recently-released KB3050265 – Bigbio2002 Jul 27 '15 at 13:49
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This is a known issue with Windows Update. Microsoft fixed this issue with the update KB3050265 in June 2015:

Windows Update Client for Windows 7: June 2015
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3050265

Fixes included in this update

This update addresses an issue in which system performance can be decreased during scans. This issue has the greatest effect on computers that have a small amount of physical memory.

Download and install the update Windows6.1-KB3050265-x64.msu.

Windows 8 also suffers this issue, but here the fix is to update to Windows 8.1, where the issue was first fixed before back porting the fix to Windows 7.

Microsoft released a new WindowsUpdate Client Update to fix the slow Update searching/Installation.

Installing and searching for updates is slow and high CPU usage occurs in Windows 7
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3102810

Download:
32Bit: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=fcd6bf5d-f004-4ca3-aa7e-1de462b91dd0

64Bit: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=4fe566bd-31b1-4413-8c4c-412b52533669

Try this new Update and look if it speeds up the installation of Updates.

  • 1
    Tried this on 1 machine that I'm responsible for updating. I ran WIndows Update and it didn't come back as an available update, so I manually installed it. TrustedInstaller.exe and svchost.exe were consuming ~500mb of RAM in taskmanager. After installing the update, I rebooted and told Windows to check for updates again. The two were using ~220mb of RAM. This update seems somewhat effective, though all this for a 500kb update seems excessive. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jul 27 '15 at 14:07
  • I marked this as the answer for those following behind, since Microsoft officially addressed the problem. However, Microsoft did not totally fix the problem. However, that's not your fault, so you get the points. :) – YetAnotherRandomUser Mar 25 '16 at 13:32
  • @allanonmage try the latest Update from March: support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3138612 MS tries to fix it a bit over time – magicandre1981 Mar 26 '16 at 7:44
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Would the systems in question be fresh/not-updated-ever Windows 7? If yes, then:

  1. Yes, that's how it works. However, this includes .NET updates, which require compilation of large parts of code on machine in question. There is a fix that raises priority of it so that computer finishes it in under an hour instead of several.
  2. Only way to mitigate this behaviour I found to set update to "choose when to install manually". Unfortunately, it's just half-measure.
  3. Not really. You can cut down on update downloading and installing drivers from manufacturer site, but that's about it.

This process got overhauled in Windows 8, so it's way less noticeable, but with windows 7 it's to be endured only.

However, speaking from experience, switching to SSD makes the symptoms to go away. For comparison: DELL e6400, fresh Win7 Pro install and full update took nearly 3 hours of constant churning. I basically left computer on automatic update (after another fresh reinstall) for the night after first update attempt resulted in killed processes. Same computer with SSD (850 EVO): update took bit under one hour and I could continue working on it.

EDIT: there is a reason why by default windows update is set on automatic for 3am...

  • No, these systems have all been updated before. Multiple times. For example, this week's updates was ~1gb, and I had updated that machine last week. svchost.exe consumed 1GB of RAM during one point. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jul 20 '15 at 15:30
  • This is still usual, if not expected Windows behaviour - with large windows updates all bad sides of Windows 7 are coming together... – AcePL Jul 20 '15 at 15:37
  • Using an SSD makes the problem "go away" only if you have Windows' pagefile on the SSD. Because the page file is on the SSD the massive amount of memory swapping caused by this problem becomes less obvious to the end-user. It doesn't actually make it go away, just masks it. Source: had to deal with this on a couple hundred computers a couple months ago. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jul 30 '15 at 17:41

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