What is Cisvc.exe and why does it slow down my computer

February 15, 2009

What is Cisvc.exe and why does it slow down my computer There are many mysterious services and processes hogging Windows, and Cisvc.exe is one of them.  A quick Google search on the topic reveals little more than a few sentences on what it is. So we’ve decided to explain it in detail, and let you know how to stop it from slowing down your computer once and for all.

Cisvc.exe, or “Content Indexing Service,” is actually a program that’s part of the central Windows OS indexing service.  It’s purpose is to monitor the indexing service to make sure it doesn’t use too many resources in terms of memory and CPU usage.  Outside of the indexing service, Cisvc.exe is also used to monitor other low-memory situations, as well as a popular name for a certain type of spyware software- more on that later.

The problem with Cisvc.exe is that while it’s supposed to help memory hogging situations, it sometimes does the opposite and hogs resources itself.  If you’ve ever taken a closer look at the CPU usage of Cisvc.exe, you’d see that it can sometimes use as much as 90 to 100 percent of your systems resources.  The irony is that a program designed to help rid your system of resource-intensive applications and processes, hogs your resources while it’s working, which in turn slows your computer down considerably.

Cisvc.exe is often times associated solely with your computer’s indexing service.  This service is intended to help you find files and folders more easily and quickly by indexing everything on your hard drive(s).  The service should only index while the computer is not in use, or is only being used minimally, and thus the Cisvc.exe program was created to control indexing to make sure the service wasn’t taking processing power away from whatever the user may be doing.

If you’re reading this article, you’ve most likely noticed that Cisvc.exe is taking way to much CPU usage that it normally should, or that your computer is noticeably slower, and Cisvc.exe is the only program running.  There are a few different things that could be going on, so let’s take a look at what’s happening to disrupt Cisvc.exe from operating properly.

1.)  Cisvc.exe could be trying to do its job properly, but is confused by the number of programs or services you have running at any given time, therefore causing it to over-react so to speak.  Sometimes Cisvc.exe simply opens wrong when Windows starts, and backfires causing intense memory and CPU usage.  Sometimes, a simple system restart can fix the problem, but most of the time it requires some simple tweaks to the Windows indexing service which will in turn effect how Cisvc.exe operates.

2.)  Sometimes Cisvc.exe, while monitoring other resource intensive operations on the system, can get tangled up with certain devices or applications on your system.  For example, Cisvc.exe has been known to attach itself to the CD-ROM drive of a system, causing the drive to show a “device in use by another program” error.  When this happens, the CD-ROM drive cannot be opened, and Cisvc.exe is responsible for massive CPU usage and therefore a heavily slowed down computer.  Again, a system restart may fix the issue, but it will likely require some minor system tweaking.

3.)  The “Cisvc.exe” program that you see operating on your system may also be a malicious spyware program associated with a “Key Logger” program and process combination.  This is spyware that does a variety of things in the background of your system, and uses a lot of resources while doing so.  Spyware software often uses the names of common Windows programs and processes, such as Cisvc.exe, to disguise itself.  If Cisvc.exe is using more resources than it should, or if the problem arises very quickly, you could have been infected with spyware that’s using Cisvc.exe as its name.  If you’ve tried deleting or canceling the program, and it won’t go away, this is another sign that it’s spyware and not the real Cisvc.exe.

Now that we’ve discussed the reasons Cisvc.exe might be slowing down your computer, let’s move on to how you can stop it.  Most likely, some simple system settings can curb most of the problems associated with Cisvc.exe, but in the case it’s associated with spyware, you’ll have to take some more drastic measures.  Since Cisvc.exe is most commonly associated with the Windows indexing service, changing the way system indexing operates on your computer can help you avoid these problems in the future.

If you’re having problems with Cisvc.exe slowing down your system, the first step is to disable the indexing service all together.  If you don’t use the Windows Search feature much, the indexing service not running shouldn’t effect you to much.  If you do use the Windows Search function, you can opt to leave indexing on, but change the way it operates to better handle Cisvc.exe.  To disable Indexing all together, go to your Control Panel and choose Add or Remove Programs.  In the window that opens, choose “Add or Remove Windows Components.”  Uncheck the box next to “Indexing Service,” and click OK.  This will disable indexing completely, and should fix many problems associated with Cisvc.exe slowing down your system.  Stopping the indexing service alone will help with your overall system speed and CPU usage.

Many people experiencing problems will often want to get rid or disable Cisvc.exe, but remember that it’s a vital system process and shouldn’t be removed.  This is because it does protect you from CPU-hogging processes and applications, but seems to have problems with associated with the Windows indexing service.  Disabling indexing is the way to go, not disabling Cisvc.exe.

If Cisvc.exe is actually spyware operating in the background of your system, you need to get spyware removal software that’s suited especially for “keylogger-type” spyware situations.  Key Logger spyware will actually allow for multiple remote user connections, takes screenshots of activity on your computer and sends this information back to the hackers via FTP and email-based logs.  In other words, it’s a very malicious and harmful process, and should be removed ASAP.  There are many “Key Logger Removal” tools available for free online, a quick Google search should give you plenty of options.  Overall spyware software might not include Key Logger removal, so getting one specially suited for Key Loggers is recommended.

Hopefully, this information has educated you on what exactly Cisvc.exe is, how and why it slows down your computer, and some suggestions on how to stop if from happening in the future.

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42 Responses to “What is Cisvc.exe and why does it slow down my computer”

  1. Slick:

    Thx for the explanation, I was interested in knowing about cisvc.exe because as you said, cisvc.exe was taking very CPU on my PC and I often disable directly (but I don’t experiment problems after that, I’m glad that it doesn’t seem to be the spyware)

  2. Big ricardo:

    Same for me, has been running on my laptop at 95-100% for several days now. Just disabled in task manager and dropped straight to 3% and my lappy is now cooling down from melting point. Thanks for the help.

  3. Debbi:

    thank you so much I recently bought a magig Jack and the reception was horrible because the cisvc was using to much CPU for it to work properly…great advise

  4. Parikshit:

    Thanks very much for the explaination. I was really wondering from past couple of weeks to sort out this issue and finally now my CPU is showing the reasonable usage.

  5. Parikshit:

    Thanks very much for the explaination. I was trying to sort of this issue since last couple of weeks. Finally now my CPU is working reasonably ok.

  6. Gusana:


    thank you very much for the information. I was trying to disable the index but it was disable allready. My spyware do not appear to find it as a virus. So my question is:
    Why do I have cisvc.exe if the index was disable?

    thank for you help

  7. peter:

    Thanks for the heads up. This service has been problematic on and off for some time. Recently it has been invoked too often for comfort so now rather than kill it in the Task Manager I have just disabled it. Good riddance.

  8. ilans:


    My problem is that for some reason I don’t have cisvc.exe, and when I start the computer I get an error message that this file is missing. what can I do?


  9. ken:

    how to disable the indexing service
    control panel
    admin tools
    RIGHT click indexing service
    scroll startup type to disabled
    click apply
    click OK
    and the damm thing will rear its ugly head no more

  10. Des Mitchell:

    I am having problems with the cisvc.

    It was so nice to see the causes and remidies set out so clearly. Rather than some “solutions” published where you need to be microsoft certified. Well done

  11. Nilanjan Banerjee:

    Thanks for the precise explanation. It was bothering my PC for some time taking upto 70 – 80% of my processor usage. My processor is very happy it seems now.

  12. TJ David:

    Thank you for this valuable information. My processor was consistently at 100%. It is now less than 5%.
    Great Job!

  13. Sharath:

    Simple enough for a uninitiated to understand, while covering the relevant details. Extremely useful…thanks & keep rolling out more of such informative piece.

  14. Dan P.:

    I hit the “End Process” button and it went immediately away. My computer is probably thanking me right now. BUT will I ever need it again? If so, can I get it back?

  15. Rashid Sajid:

    Very valuable information to help understand the service functionality. Well documented. I just wanted to add a little bit more for everyone out there.
    The service start can be set to ‘Manual’ to make sure it does not automatically start up.
    If ever you need to index your file system, you can manually start the service and let it run when you are not working on the computer.
    There is a very good use of this service as well. Go to Control Pannel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management.
    Expand ‘Serices and Applications’;
    Expand ‘Indexing Service’;
    Expand ‘System’; and
    Select ‘Query the Catalog’
    You will see a search form on the screen in the right hand pan. That’s where you can type the file/folder you are looking for and hit ‘Search’ button. Believe me the search speed is overwhelming. The moment you hit Search button, all files and folders are displayed instantly based on the search criteria i.e. full/part of the file/folder name. Unlike the normal Windows Search that takes time to return the search results, this is incredibly fast.

    Try it and you will love the Search capability.

    by the way: I am running XP SP3.

  16. Lee W.:

    Good notes on this indexing stuff…

    Another way to reach the quick search mentioned by Rashid Sajid is as follows…
    rt clk “My Computer”
    >Services and Applications
    >Indexing Service
    >Query the Catalog

  17. Rami:


    Thank you for posting this article.

    A question:
    What to do if I already have the “Indexing service” unchecked in “add/remove windows components” and, at the mean time, I still have 45%CPU used by Cisvc.exe?

    By the way, I am running XP SP2
    Thank you again.

  18. Angelo:

    Great explanation, very helpful. I used Process Explorer to locate Cisvc.exe (running above 90%) and removed it.

    Thank you.

  19. Fresh:

    very excellent. I do have spyware. Thanks

  20. alan F:

    Thanks – very helpful. I found I already had Indexing Service unchecked so i am guessing it is the virus version, as the problem is very recent. Will try some of my spyware removal software.

    Best regards!

  21. Michel C.:

    Good day – Thks Bert
    This did the trick for me but I had to restart after:

    how to disable the indexing service
    control panel
    admin tools
    RIGHT click indexing service
    scroll startup type to disabled
    click apply
    click OK
    and the damm thing will rear its ugly head no more

    Michel C.

  22. Aemilius:

    Well, I used to have problem with my cisvc.exe process taking up 100% of my memory quite often – regularly as a matter of fact. So I simply ended the process through Task Manager. I saw little other choice, and my computer seemed to run just fine without it.

    However, then I got Advanced System Optimizer 3 and besides making my computer run better than new, it eliminated any further problems with cisvc.exe. Amazing – it never bothered me again. And just to think what AOS3 did to my registry – better than new, I say.

    That said, I heard claims that AOS3 was also bundled with spyware. And Kaspersky did delete something within my AOS3 folder, which it insisted was malware… I thought it was a false positive, but who knows? In any case, I still use AOS3 and I still think it is the best.

    It has just about everything – registry cleaner (repairs errors) & optimiser (compacts and optimises registry), junk sweeper (cleans the HD from all sorts of leftover data and temp files), advanced defrag software, disk error checker, memory optimiser, game optimiser (diverts more resources to games and prevents any disturbances when enabled), driver updater, malware scanner/active protection, privacy software, file recovery (recover deleted files), file deletion (delete so that no-one can recover anything ;P ), encryption software, backup software, and a crapload of other useful features…

    Hot darn, it almost feels like an advertisement I am writing, but AOS3 is that good. Unlike some other similar software, such as those rogue optimisers running by the names such as ‘Uniblue Registry Booster’ and such… Malware-ridden scams…

  23. Norrie:

    It kept running each time I opened windows. I found it was trying to index Outlook Express which I do not use or need. I unchecked that and we will see how it goes now.

  24. Arleen:

    Thanks for the info. Disabled Indexing per instructions. Great to find a spot that can explain in terms for non-computer literate people like me.

  25. Diwan:

    Thankx a lot for this information.It was really usefull. Thanks again…

  26. Marrazzo:

    Excellent. Really helpful. Thanks all, especially ken, Rashid, LeeW., and of course Justin M.!

  27. Jage:

    thks, that’s what my computer do

  28. unfukme:

    yeaah i know whats going n now

  29. Steven:

    Great site. Great write up. Good folks.
    However, I need the Windows indexing service(WIS). I frequently need to delete the process or log off for hogging resources, but infrequently. This negates spyware and complys with the stumbling behavior you mentioned. You mentioned tweaks to WIS which is now version 4. Running XP3

  30. AJ:

    It’s time get out of WINDOWs and think differently. LINUX is the solution. I have switched all my Windows to Ubuntu dist. of Linux. Boots fast and overall system performance is exceptional on same hardware compared to XP & Vista!!

  31. Joselyn Brambila:

    I blog often and I really thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.|

  32. nada424:

    I disabled it, but the problem persists. Does this mean it’s spyware?

  33. frischmoutt:

    Thanks a lot for this prominent piece of information.
    It made my day.

  34. Xextreem:

    Nah i just enabled this one to see if the fix’s it. This little program is great for me i using allot of mem in my programs so i need all the ram i can have. use 12gb ram at daily base without this my system go way more slower and do the job not that good. So for me the cpu using now is zero and the mem is only 156kb also have 256 program running. The highest mem is svchost with 295.442 mem. Cpu real time using 1%. So i don’t need see any problems. I think its bugged for older os. I was here to see what this process is. Thanks for the info

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