Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • The WMI Provider Host process allows other applications to request information about your system and is particularly useful for enterprises managing PCs. It is essential on Windows 10 and Windows 11.
  • High CPU usage by WMI Provider Host is usually a sign that another application is requesting data through WMI.
  • To identify the process causing high CPU usage, use the Event Viewer to find recent “Error” events and locate the process ID number. Then, use Task Manager to identify the process, and either end it or restart it.

The WMI Provider Host process is an important part of Windows, and often runs in the background. It allows other applications on your computer to request information about your system. This process shouldn’t normally use many system resources, but it may use a lot of CPU if another process on your system is behaving badly.

What Is WMI Provider Host?

“WMI” stands for “Windows Management Instrumentation”. This is a Windows feature that provides a standardized way for software and administrative scripts to request information about the state of your Windows operating system and data on it. “WMI Providers” provide this information, when requested. For example, software or commands could find information about the state of BitLocker drive encryption, view entries from the event log, or request data from installed applications that include a WMI provider. Microsoft has a list of included WMI providers on its website.

This is a particularly useful feature for enterprises that centrally manage PCs, especially as information can be requested via scripts and shown in a standard way in administrative consoles. However, even on a home PC, some software you have installed may request information about the system through the WMI interface.

You can also use WMI yourself to find a variety of useful pieces of information that aren’t normally exposed in the Windows interface on your own PC. For example, we’ve covered the WMI Command line tool (WMIC) to get your PC’s serial number, find your motherboard’s model number, or just to see the SMART health status of a hard drive.

Using WMIC to retrieve information about the motherboard in our example PC.

WMI is not a virus, and it would be unusual for a virus to impersonate WMI.

Why Is WMI Provider Host Using So Much CPU?

WMI Provider Host shouldn’t normally use much CPU, as it shouldn’t normally be doing anything. It may occasionally use some CPU when another piece of software or script on your PC asks for information via WMI, and that’s normal. High CPU usage is likely just a sign that another application is requesting data via WMI.

However, prolonged high CPU usage is a sign something is wrong. WMI Provider Host shouldn’t be using lots of CPU resources all the time.

Restarting the Windows Management Instrumentation service may help if it’s stuck in a bad state. You could also just restart your computer, but there’s a way to restart the service without restarting your computer. To do this, open your Start menu, type “Services.msc”, and press Enter to launch the Services tool.


Locate the “Windows Management Instrumentation service” in the list, right-click it, and select “Restart”.


If you see consistently high CPU usage, it’s likely that another process on your system is behaving badly. If a process is constantly requesting a large amount of information from WMI providers, this will cause the WMI Provider Host process to use a lot of CPU. That other process is the problem.

To identify which specific process is causing problems with WMI, use the Event Viewer. On Windows 10 or Windows 11, you can right-click the Start button and select “Event Viewer” to open it. On Windows 7, open the Start menu, type “Eventvwr.msc”, and press Enter to launch it.

Open Power User Menu on Windows by pressing Windows + X, then select

In the left pane of the Event Viewer window, navigate to Applications and Service Logs\Microsoft\Windows\WMI-Activity\Operational. Scroll through the list and look for recent “Error” events. Click each event and look for the number to the right of “ClientProcessId” in the bottom pane. This tells you the ID number of the process that caused the WMI error.

There’s a good chance you’ll see several errors here. The errors may be caused by the same process ID number, or you may see multiple different process IDs causing errors. Click each error and see what the ClientProcessId is to find out.

The Event Viewer showing a WMI error.

You can now pin down a process that may be causing problems. First, open a Task Manager window by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Escape or by right-clicking the taskbar and selecting “Task Manager”.

Right-click empty space on the Taskbar, then select

Click over to the “Details” tab, click the “PID” column to sort running processes by process ID, and locate the process matching the ID number that appeared in the Event Viewer logs.

For example, we located an error in the Event Viewer tied to PID 3880. Scrolling through the list, we find that it is associated with a piece of software from ASUS, “Noise Cancelling Engine.”

If the process has since closed, you won’t see it in the list here. Also, when a program closes and reopens, it will have a different process ID number. That’s why you need to look for recent events, as the process ID number from older events in your Event Viewer won’t help you find anything.

Noise Canceling Engine is the culprit in our example.

With this information in hand, you now know the process that may be causing problems. You can search for its name on the web to find out the software it’s associated with. You can also just right-click the process in the list and click “Open File Location” to open its location on your system, which may show you the larger software package the program is a part of. You may need to update this software if you use it, or uninstall it if you don’t.

Can I Disable WMI Provider Host?

It is technically possible to disable the “Windows Management Instrumentation service” on your computer. However, this will break many different things on your PC. It’s an important part of the Windows operating system and should be left alone.

Microsoft's warning that Windows Management Instrumentation is essential for Windows services to operate.

As the official description for this service says, “If this service is stopped, most Windows-based software will not function properly”. So don’t disable this service! If you have a problem with it, you need to identify the process on your computer that’s causing the WMI Provider Host to use so much CPU and update, remove, or disable that process instead.

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By John P.

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