CPU Load for Troubleshooting

How To Log CPU Load for Troubleshooting

CPU load is the percentage of time that the CPU is busy executing instructions. High CPU load can cause performance problems, such as slow response times and system crashes. To troubleshoot high CPU load, you need to be able to collect data on CPU usage over time.

There are a number of ways to log CPU load. When your computer starts to slow down, and you suspect that a high CPU load might be the culprit, it’s essential to have a reliable way to monitor and log CPU usage for troubleshooting. 

Keeping track of CPU load over time can help you identify performance bottlenecks, pinpoint resource-hungry processes, and improve your system’s efficiency. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of logging CPU load for troubleshooting, whether you’re using Windows, Linux, or macOS.

Part – 1: Choosing the Right Tools

First, you need the appropriate tools to monitor and log CPU load effectively. 

Here are some popular options for each operating system:

For Windows:

  1. Task Manager: Windows Task Manager provides a basic overview of CPU usage, but there are better tools for detailed logging. However, you can still record CPU usage manually by taking screenshots or noting down values at regular intervals.
  2. Performance Monitor (PerfMon): PerfMon allows you to create custom data collector sets to log CPU performance over time. It offers in-depth insights into various performance metrics.

Linux For:

  1. Top: The ‘top’ command is a terminal-based utility providing real-time CPU usage information. To log data, you can run ‘top’ and redirect its output to a text file using a command like top -b -d 1 > cpu_log.txt.
  2. Sar: The ‘sar’ command (System Activity Reporter) is a powerful tool that can log CPU load, memory usage, and other system statistics over time. You can schedule regular data collection with ‘sar’ and review the logs later.

For macOS:

  1. Activity Monitor: Like Windows Task Manager, Activity Monitor offers real-time CPU load monitoring. Unfortunately, it lacks built-in logging features, so you may need to use third-party tools.

Part – 2: Setting Up Logging

Once you’ve chosen your preferred tool, it’s time to set up CPU load logging.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Define Your Logging Interval: Determine how often you want to record CPU load. Common intervals are every minute or every five minutes, depending on the granularity of data you need.
  2. Choose a Log Format: Decide whether you want to log data in a text file, CSV, or another format that suits your needs. Text files are easy to work with and can be analyzed with various tools.
  3. Automate the Process: Automate the data collection process to ensure consistent logging. Use scheduling tools like cron (Linux/macOS) or Task Scheduler (Windows) to run your chosen monitoring tool at specified intervals.

Part – 3: Analyzing and Troubleshooting

Collected CPU load data, it’s time to analyze it for troubleshooting:

  1. Identify High Load Periods: Look for spikes or consistently high CPU usage in your logs. These periods are likely when performance issues occur.
  2. Check Resource-Hungry Processes: Cross-reference the high-load periods with the running process list. Identify which applications or tasks are causing the CPU to work overtime.
  3. Consider Hardware Upgrades: If you consistently encounter high CPU load that affects your system’s performance and you’ve ruled out software issues, consider hardware upgrades like a faster CPU or additional RAM.

Logging CPU Load on Linux

To log CPU load on Linux, you can use the top command. The top command displays a real-time list of all running processes and CPU usage.

To start logging CPU load, open a terminal window and run the following command:

Top -b -n 1 > cpu_load.log

This will start logging CPU load to the file cpu_load.log. The -b option tells the top to display the CPU usage in a more readable format, and the -n 1 option tells the top to only update the display once.

To stop logging CPU load, press Ctrl+C.

Once you have stopped logging CPU load, you can open the cpu_load.log file to view the data. The file will contain a line for each process, CPU usage, memory usage, and other information.

Logging CPU Load on Windows

To log CPU load on Windows, you can use the Performance Monitor. The Performance Monitor is a built-in tool that allows you to collect data on various system performance metrics, including CPU, memory, and disk usage.

To start logging CPU load, open the Performance Monitor and click on the “Performance Monitor” link in the left-hand pane. Then, click the “Data Collector Sets” link in the right-hand pane.

Next, right-click on “User Defined” and select “New” > “Data Collector Set.” Enter a name for the data collector set and click “Next.”

Select the “Performance Counter” on the next page and click “Next.” Then, select the “Processor” category and the “Percent Processor Time” counter. Click “Add” to add the counter to the data collector set.

Once you have added the counter, click “Finish” to create the data collector set.

To start logging CPU load, right-click on the data collector set and select “Start.” Then, click the “Data Collector Sets” link in the left-hand pane to view the data.

To stop logging CPU load, right-click on the data collector set and select “Stop.” Then, you can save the data to a file by right-clicking on the data collector set and selecting “Save As.”

Analyzing CPU Load Logs

Once you have collected CPU load data, you must analyze it to identify the processes causing high CPU load.

One way to analyze CPU load data is to look for processes using a high percentage of CPU time. You can sort the CPU load log file by CPU usage.

Another way to analyze CPU load data is to look for processes that use a lot of CPU time in a short time. You can do this by looking for spikes in CPU usage.

Once you have identified the processes causing high CPU load, you can investigate the cause of the problem and take steps to resolve it.

Tips for Troubleshooting High CPU Load

Here are a few tips for troubleshooting high CPU load:

  • Check for updates to your operating system and applications. Outdated software can sometimes cause high CPU load.
  • Turn off any unnecessary startup programs. Startup programs are programs that start automatically when you turn on your computer. Turning off unnecessary startup programs can reduce CPU load.
  • Close any unused applications. The more applications you have open, the more CPU load your computer will experience.
  • Run a virus scan. Viruses and malware can sometimes cause high CPU load.
  • Update your hardware. If your computer is old, it may need more hardware resources to handle the demands of modern applications.

If you still have problems with high CPU load, you may need to contact a system administrator or computer technician for assistance.


Logging CPU load is an invaluable troubleshooting tool for maintaining system performance and identifying performance bottlenecks. 

With the right tools and regular monitoring, you can proactively address issues and keep your computer running smoothly. 

So, log your CPU load today to ensure a more efficient computing experience, whether you’re a Windows, Linux, or macOS user. Comment here.

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