What To Do if the System and Compressed Memory Service Uses Too Much CPU

Posted by Jamie on December 18, 2017

The System and compressed memory service is a Windows 10 feature introduced with Windows 10 build 10525. Like many of Microsoft’s ideas, this one was a good one but the implementation of it left a lot to be desired. Here is what to do if the System and compressed memory service uses too much CPU on your computer.

The System and compressed memory service is actually a very clever trick designed to offer more longevity to SSDs and to speed up Windows. The idea is to store system resources (called pages) you use often in RAM and then in a page list so it can load quickly when you want it to. This speeds up system response as the resource can be fetched much faster than having to dig around your SSD to find it.

The process goes something like this, popular apps are stored in RAM. As RAM fills up, Windows writes the pages to the cache to free up RAM space. As the cache fills up, a new list is created and the pages compressed. This still allows the page to be accessed faster than if it was written to disk.

Previous versions of Windows would store pages in RAM, then cache them and then write them to disk. Adding the extra step using compression means fewer disk reads and writes and a faster system. As current SSDs have a limited lifespan determined by the number of reads and writes it performs, this theoretically extends the operating life of SSDs.

When the System and compressed memory service uses too much CPU, that is the compression working. There seems a tradeoff between saving disk writes and offering fast access to memory pages and the processor cycles needed to maintain this process.

System and compressed memory service uses too much CPU

So now you know why this happens, what can you do to fix it? Examples I have seen so far have been fixed by a number of measures. A couple of Surface laptops I have worked on required a graphics driver update, another was fixed by updating the Intel Rapid Storage Driver. Another was fixed by using Sleep instead of Hibernate.

For now it seems many things can cause the System and compressed memory service to use too much CPU but I have seen these solutions work first hand.

Upgrade your graphics driver

Upgrading the graphics driver has worked on two Microsoft Surface laptops and a Lenovo laptop that I have seen. Windows 10 does take care of drivers for you but manually upgrading it helps fix this CPU issue.

  1. Visit the graphics card manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver. Nvidia here and AMD here.
  2. Download the DDU Uninstaller from here.
  3. Run the DDU Uninstaller.
  4. Select the Safe Mode option and allow your system to reboot into Safe Mode. The program will uninstall the graphics driver and reboot into normal mode.
  5. Install your new graphics driver.
  6. Reboot your computer.

You can overlay new drivers over old but best practice is completely remove old drivers. DDU Uninstaller does that for you. Once rebooted, monitor your CPU usage to see if the System and compressed memory service normalizes or not.

Update the Intel Rapid Storage Driver

If updating your graphics driver didn’t work, see if your computer uses the Intel Rapid Storage Driver. It comes installed with Windows 10 but isn’t always used so your mileage may vary.

  1. Right click the Windows Taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Select the Services tab and Open Services at the bottom.
  3. Look for Intel Rapid Storage Driver in the services list. If the service is running, update the driver.
  4. Navigate to Intel’s website and download the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver.
  5. Install, reboot and retest.


Disable hibernate in Windows 10

Another tweak I have used since Windows 10 build 10525 was released is to disable Hibernate. Hibernate has never really worked as well as it should and it isn’t much better in Windows 10. You would be better off disabling it and using Sleep instead.

  1. Right click the Windows Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Type or paste ‘powercfg.exe /hibernate off’ and hit Enter.
  3. Close the command prompt and reboot your computer.

I have seen this trick work for when the System and compressed memory service uses too much CPU.

There are three ways I know of to fix it when the System and compressed memory service uses too much CPU. There are bound to be others but these are definitely worth a try!

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