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High CPU usage in covefs.sys?


glugglug
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The past couple weeks I have noticed the CPU used by "System" in Task Manager stays between 25 and 50%, even when the system is idle, on a Haswell i7 system.

 

Looking in process explorer, which doesn't always launch successfully, it shows all the CPU heavy threads to be in covefs.sys.  The CPU heavy threads have > 10K context switches per second.

 

When I first noticed this, I had no antivirus running, as lately I have been having an impossible time finding one that doesn't conflict with Windows Media Center Extender usage.  I have since been running MSSE and scanned with MalwareBytes as I feared it could be some malware making the usage high.

 

First noticed the issue with the stable release (x64), upgraded to the beta and the problem persists.

 

It really doesn't make sense, as there hasn't been an update to DrivePool itself in a long time when this first started.  The pool was expanded from 4 drives to 6 about two months ago.  Any ideas?

 

Edit: Actually, come to think of it, the timing of this issue is roughly when I stopped using BitDefender, as it kept WMC extenders from connecting after an update.  And even after uninstalling it, it turned out Windows Defender which got turned on as part of the update process was actually blocking the connections.  When I figured that out, I was unable to reinstall BitDefender.  Maybe some remnant of it is still around causing the CPU usage?

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High CPU usage like this can be caused by opening a lot of files, and closing them.  If something is indexing the pool, it can trigger this sort of behavior. 

 

That said, if you would like, download the "Windows Performance Analyzer": and run it on the system. That can at least log what is going on.  

 

 

Also, if you enabled "verifier" at any point, that will also cause this sort of issue. 

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How do I check if "verifier" has been enabled?

 

Procmon doesn't show CreateFiles on the pool at a high enough rate to account for this, but I was surprised to see a lot of processes with them using paths to drives within the pool, rather than the pool itself, which seems really weird. 

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I tried disabling the "Bypass System Filters" setting to see if that changes all the paths to individual drives rather than the pool showing up in procmon.  It doesn't, however, the CPU usage dropped briefly shortly after changing this setting, with the System process using 0-1% CPU instead of 25-50%.  Only stayed low a minute or so though, now it's back at ~30% :-(

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If you're not sure, it's likely not enabled. 

 

Otherwise, run "verifier", and select the "delete existing settings" option. 

 

 

As for procmon, creating files isn't CPU intensive, but opening and closing handles to the files is.  So a lot of open files can generate CPU usage. 

 

That said, procmon will show the PoolPart folder paths, as it's showing the actual files, so this is normal.

 

As for disabling the "Bypass file system filters", this shouldn't really affect the CPU usage here. In fact, if anything, it should lower it.  If the filters are not being bypassed, that's another system process that is opening these files, and generating additional CPU usage. 

 

 

So, the drop is CPU usage is probably just coincidental time, rather than a result of the "bypass file system filters" setting. 

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Solved:

 

The reason procmon wasn't showing the crazy number of file/directory opens is by default the "System" process is excluded.  Once I had it show that I could see that the see that my media folders were being scanned over and over continuously, especially the photos folder.  The WMP library reindexing was failing on some panoramic photos and restarting, continuously, and for some reason the CPU for that was all within "System" instead of any of the more WMC or WMP specific processes.

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