2016-11-03

Windows Photos CPU Consumption

With the demise of Google Picasa, I need a new photo indexer and viewer. The Google replacement solution does not work for me. I have a fairly large amount of photos taken over the years, that I do not want to upload to the cloud. I cannot have Google performing lossy compression on them when they do get there, and I'm not paying them to not do compression. I need the original photos. Picasa was about perfect for what I needed, but now it's gone. I would even pay a small fee to keep Picasa around. This is not the first Google app that they've abandoned that I used.

So I looked around for what could replace it. One app that might work is Windows Photos, that comes for free with Windows. I fired it up. However, by default, it only searches in a few pre-defined places on the disk. So I changed the setting to have it search the entire disk. Which it did, very slowly, but it found all my photos. Still evaluating whether it meets my needs.

Several days later, I noticed that my laptop was running hot, with the fan running at full speed, every time that it went idle. I didn't make the connection that it was what I did in Photos. And, of course, if I went to look at what was running, that took it out of the idle state, which meant that whatever was running hot wasn't doing it when I looked. Stupid Schrödinger's cat getting in the way again...looking changes the state of things.

I eventually figured out how to find what was consuming all the CPU time. It was right there in Task Manager. Ctrl-Alt-Del brings up Task Manager. In a Remote Desktop environment, its Ctrl-Alt-End, as Ctrl-Alt-Del will bring up the Task Manager of the host system, not the remote system. Then select Task Manager from the list. In Task Manager, there is the App History tab. Click on that. Then click Delete usage history. Then let it go idle, come back later, and look at the list.

So what was sitting at the top of the list? The Windows Photos app! Running all really hot. It seems that when I told it to look over the entire disk, it does that any time the system goes idle, looking for new photos! Since it can't complete that task before the next time it should look, it just runs continuously. To make it so it only looks for new photos when it is running in the foreground, in Windows, click Start > Settings > Privacy > Background Apps, and move the slider on Photos to off. Problem solved.

So lessons learned: To monitor CPU usage, the App History tab in Task Manager is the right tool. Don't let Photos run in the background. And don't trust Google to keep making apps available...they abandon apps that are successful, unlike Microsoft...and when they do, they remove them completely, not just leaving the last version on their sites.

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