What is Runtime Broker and Why is it Causing High CPU Load?

If you’ve noticed that an unfamiliar program, named Runtime Broker is hogging more than 15% of your memory and causing your PC to run slow, here’s how to deal with it.

Microsoft introduced the Runtime Broker process (RuntimeBroker.exe) in Windows 8, and kept on using it in Windows 10 as well. Runtime Broker is a legitimate Windows process, but one with quite a bad reputation for increasing CPU load and memory usage on systems sporadically.

If you monitor the Windows Task Manager, by loading it with Ctrl-Shift-Esc for instance, or if you use a more advanced process monitor like Process Explorer, you may have noticed already that Runtime Broker is not active all the time.

If you watch more closely, you may notice that it is linked somehow to Universal Windows Apps (those installed from Windows Store, that came with the operating system, and sideloaded apps).

The following guide offers information on the process, and tips on how to resolve the high CPU load that it causes sometimes.

Runtime Broker information

runtime broker process

You will find Runtime Broker listed under processes, and under details when you open the Windows Task Manager on Windows 10.

Note that the Windows 10 Task Manager separates processes into apps and background processes. Depending on the status of Runtime Broker, you may find it listed under either one there.  For a clearer picture, switch to details and locate it there.

Since Runtime Broker is linked to Universal Windows Apps, you will notice that it becomes active whenever you start one of these applications on your device.

To provide you with a little bit more detail: The main task of Runtime Broker is to check if these applications have declared all the required permissions, and to inform you about it.

So, it acts as a security middleman between the app and your data and hardware on the device.

Runtime Broker causing high CPU load

Reports started to come up as early as 2015 that Runtime Broker was causing high CPU loads on Windows 10, and as early as 2012 that it was using a lot of memory on Windows 8.

It may also use a lot of memory, especially if a faulty app is the root cause of the issue:

Runtime Broker is a Windows process in Task Manager that helps manage permissions on your PC for apps from Windows Store. It should only use a few megabytes of memory, but in some cases, a faulty app might cause Runtime Broker to use up to a gigabyte of RAM or more.

Quick temporary Fix

end task runtime broker

Microsoft suggests to kill the Runtime Broker Process if it uses more than 15% of memory.

If your RAM use is high and your PC is running slowly, an app may be the cause of the problem. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager and then, on the Processes tab, check to see how much memory Runtime Broker is using. If it’s using more than 15% of your memory, you probably have an issue with an app on your PC. To stop Runtime Broker from using so much memory, select Runtime Broker in the list, select End task to close Runtime Broker, and then restart your computer.

  1. Use Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. Right-click on Runtime Broker in the processes list.
  3. Select End Task from the context menu that opens up.
  4. Restart the PC.

This is only a temporary solution, as Runtime Broker will launch again the next time a Universal Windows Application is started.

Fix 2: Disable get tips, tricks and suggestions

runtime broker fix

Any feature of Windows 10 that is powered by a Universal Windows Application, leads to the execution of the Runtime Broker process.

This explains why you may see the process thrashing the hard drive, causing high CPU load, or high memory usage, even though no Windows application was started at the time.

One common fix is to disable the application that is responsible for displaying tips and suggestions to Windows users.

  1. Use Ctrl-I to open the Settings application on Windows 10.
  2. Switch to System > Notifications & Actions.
  3. Locate “Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows”, and switch the preference to off.

Fix 3: A misbehaving application

If you notice that the high load, memory or disk use of Runtime Broker is caused by a particular application, you may do the following:

  1. If the app is not essential, uninstall it and be done with the issue.
  2. If the app is essential, check for updates. If an update is available download and install it to see if it resolves the issue.
  3. If that is not the case, try uninstalling the app, and installing it again after a PC restart.

Fix 4: Limit the number of apps that can run in the background

windows background apps

Some applications may run in the background. This means that they will continue to run even if they are not in the foreground.

You may control the behavior in the following way:

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to Privacy > Background Apps.

Toggle any application that you don’t want to run in the background to off. This may remove functionality such as the application’s ability to send notifications or stay up to date.

Other fixes

windows 10 updates

If you search the Internet for fixes for Runtime Broker issues, you will end up with dozens of suggestions on resolving the issue.

  1. Change the local screen background from using Windows Spotlight (which changes background images frequently) to Picture. You do so in the Settings application under Personalization > Lock Screen.
  2. Disable P2P update functionality under Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered. Turn the option to off there.

Basically, anything else that runs as an application may cause the issue.

Check if Runtime Broker is a virus

runtime broker virus check

Last but not least, you may also want to check whether Runtime Broker is a legitimate Windows process, or if it is a virus.

The easiest option to find out is to check if RuntimeBroker.exe is located in c:\windows\system32\.

  1. Use Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. Locate the Runtime Broker process there under processes.
  3. Right-click on the process, and select the “open file location” menu item.

This opens the location on the computer the process has been started from. Anything but c:\windows\system32\

If it is, go to Virustotal and upload the rogue file there to have it checked.

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