What Is “Spooler SubSystem App” (spoolsv.exe), and Why Is It Running on My PC?

Printing something onto paper is an interesting process. All of us have made a lot of printouts but not many of us have wondered what happens when a command to print a document is entered into a computer. Printing might seem like a simple process.

Not many users know about the service responsible for this and the problems it can cause when it starts spiking up the CPU usage. This article contains everything you need to know about Spoolsv.exe. 

What is the Spooler SubSystem App (Spoolsv.exe)?

Before we get into knowing what the Spooler SubSystem App is, it is important to understand how the process of printing works, technically. 

The Print Spooler is a Windows Operating System feature that holds the print jobs in the system memory, till the printer is ready to push them out as hard copies. When you press Ctrl + P or choose the print option and click on the Print option, the print job is transferred to your computer’s print spooler.

The print job, then, travels to the printer hardware through the means of a data cable or a Wireless Network. If your printer is busy, the print spooler retains the print job till the printer is able to print your files again.

The Microsoft Windows process that oversees all the above-mentioned processes is the Spooler SubSystem App. This was designed to supervise faxes, printing, and printer configuration in Windows computers and is generally used to get rid of or proceed with printing the files that have been commanded to the printer.

Why is the Spoolsv.exe process using too much of my CPU?

The Spoolsv.exe process should not use more than a tiny percentage of the CPU. If you do not have a printer, the process may be active but will not use even a tiny fraction of the CPU memory. But there have been reports of 100% usage by this process.

The CPU usage increases up to 20% to 30% only when this service is in use and not in other circumstances. There are a handful of reasons that can cause the Spoolsv.exe High CPU usage issue on your Windows computer.

These are the aspects of your computer that can cause the Spoolsv.exe to use a major portion of the computer’s RAM:

  1. Your computer has malware.
  2. The Spooler folder contains SHL and/or SHD files.
  3. The printer is incompatible with your computer.
  4. Printer drivers are out-of-date.
  5. The printer is incorrectly configured.
  6. There are too many print jobs.
  7. The BIOS version is old.
  8. The hard drive has insufficient storage.

It is not safe for the CPU usage to be high for a long period of time as it can damage the RAM, which will result in the dwindling of the system’s performance.

Can the Spooler Subsystem be disabled?

It is possible to disable the Spooler service, but there will never be a reason good enough to deactivate this process.

You may not be able to see the installed printers on your computers if the Print Spooler service is disabled. 

Is the Spooler Subsystem App a virus?

The Spoolsv.exe file is a legitimate process but there is a slight chance of a virus masquerading as this file so that they cannot be noticed without probing. This is quite common and a lot of system services can be malware in guise.

How to check the spoolsv.exe file is a virus?

The legit Spooler.exe should be located in its default directory, C:\Windows\System32. There is one way of checking if the process is not a virus, is by looking in the location.

Here’s how you can find out if your system is hosting a clean service or a virus:

  1. Press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys on your keyboard to bring up the Windows Task Manager.
  2. Under the Processes tab, you’ll see all the active programs and their details. You have to locate the Spooler Subsystem App in the enormous list.
Startup tab in Task Manager with the Spooler SubSystem App

To make this easier, push the S key to show all the processes starting with the letter ‘S’.

  1. Once you find the Spoolsv.exe process, right-click on it and choose Open file location from the context menu.
Open File Location option in the Spooler context menu in Task Manager

This action should redirect you to the C:\Windows\System32 folder in a File Explorer window with the Spoolsv.exe file in the picture.

Spooler.exe in the System32 folder

If you are taken elsewhere, you are dealing with a virus and you have to remove it, instantly.

Techniques for fixing High CPU usage by the Spooler SubSystem App (Spoolsv.exe)

  1. Run the Printing troubleshooter
  2. Update the Printer drivers
  3. Clear the printing history
  4. Delete the Spooler files
  5. Disable the Spooler Subsystem App executable (Spoolsv.exe)
  6. Kill the Spooler process
  7. Cancel the printing queue

Fix Spooler Subsystem App issue in Windows 10

1. Run the Printing troubleshooter

One of the simplest steps to rectify the high CPU usage by Spoolsv.exe error is to run the Printer Troubleshooter. This corrects almost every error in the printing system and has also shown positive results in fixing this issue.

  1. Push the Windows key or click on the Start menu and tap the Settings gear icon on the left, with your pointer.
  2. Open the settings tile named ‘Update & Security’.
  3. Click on the Troubleshoot menu.
  4. Go into the Additional troubleshooters link and select the Printer troubleshooter.
  5. From the expanded option, click on Run the troubleshooter and follow the instructions in the printer troubleshooter.
Printer troubleshooter in the Additional Troubleshooter page

2. Update the Printer drivers

Old printer drivers can cause the Spoolsv.exe high CPU usage error. You can fix this by updating them.

  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run tool, type in devmgmt.msc, and run it by clicking Ok or pressing Enter.
  2. You’ll see the Device Manager window open. Here, look for the Print Queues section and right-click on any device, and choose Update device.
Update Driver option for the Printer
  1. Follow the instructions and repeat the same for all the drivers.

3. Clear the printing history

Your print history might be causing the Spoolsv.exe to use much CPU. You can fix this error by clearing it.

  1. Push the Windows key + I on the keyboard to open the Windows Settings.
  2. Open the Devices tile and choose the Printers & scanners tab from the left.
  3. On this page, there will be a list of every printer that was attached to the system.
  4. Select your printer and click on the Open queue.
  5. Open the Printer menu and select Cancel All Documents

4. Delete the Spooler files

Spooler files are like trash and might contain malware, in this case. Delete them and see if it fixes the error.

  1. Open the File Explorer (Windows + E). You can find a folder icon representing the File Explorer on the taskbar. 
  2. The Spooler files are located in C:\Windows\System32\Spool\PRINTERS. Reach this directory.
Spool Directory in File Explorer
  1. Double-Click on the PRINTERS folder, select all the files inside this folder (Ctrl + A), and delete them.

5. Disable the Spooler Subsystem App (Spoolsc.exe)

  1. Launch Run tool (Windows + R) and type services.msc in the Open field.
  2. Run this command to open the Services window. 
  3. Locate the service titled “Print Spooler” and double-click it to open it.
Print Spooler service in the Services Window
  1. In the General tab, choose the Disabled option in the Startup type dropdown menu.

If this is disabled, you will not be able to use your printers or fax machines. 

6. Cancel the print queue

Your print queue could be long and therefore, causing the system uses a lot of RAM to increase productivity. Clean the queue and see if the system has any pressure.

  1. Search for the Control Panel and open the first result.
  2. Go into the Hardware and Sound settings.
  3. Choose the Devices and Printers option.
See what's printing option in the Devices and Printers window
  1. Bring the printer’s context menu down by right-clicking on it and then, choose the See what’s printing option.
  2. Right-click on the existing print jobs, if you notice any, and click on the Cancel option. To clean the print jobs in bulk, right-click on the Printer and choose Cancel All Documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does spooler SubSystem app do?

The Spooler Subsystem App is the feature that takes care of the printing and faxing services are done by users. This process is known for hogging system resources and jeopardizing performance.

Is spooler SubSystem app a virus?

No, the Spooler SubSystem App is a legitimate Windows service. It could be a virus that uses a lot of CPU on your computer. A virus can pose as this file and use a lot of 

How do I fix the spooler SubSystem app?

Update the Printer software, troubleshoot your printers, delete Spooler files, and clear the printing history and the printer queue to reduce the amount of CPU usage and fix the Spooler Subsystem App process error.

Can I disable print spooler?

You can disable the Spooler service by opening the Services windows, opening the Print Spooler service properties, and setting the Startup type as Disabled.

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