Windows 7 Homegroups Hog The Aspire One's Processor
Whenever you connect to a WiFi network in Windows 7 for the first time, Windows asks you what type of network you're joining. Your options are:
- Home - The idea here is that you've got a secured home network that has a lot of good stuff that is shared and that you'll need access to so Windows 7 is going to be on the lookout for other computers that are members of your "Homegroup"
- Work - The idea here is that you're joining your secure work network and you'll be dealing with a network much like you have in the past, with specific shared resources and network locations you'll be accessing
- Public - Your sitting at Starbucks (or in my case on the commuter boat going across Boston Harbor) and you just want to access the internet and protect all of your files and resources from the prying eyes of your fellow coffee drinkers (or boaters)
While it's nice that Windows thinks to ask you this to make your life easier and more secure, using the Home setting on my Acer Aspire One has been causing some serious issues. My AAO was sitting idle, running not even a browser, and the CPU was cranking at 57%. This is A LOT of processor when you're running a 1.6 GHz ATOM processor and causes the Aspire One to pretty much grind to a halt.
To troubleshoot the problem, I immediately went to the Task Manager. OK, so I tried to pull it up immediately, but when you've only got 43% of your small processor available, immediate isn't a term that you should be using. I noticed that a single process was using all of the resources: svchost.exe. Svchost.exe is something I've seen for a long time as a running process in all versions of Windows and I had no idea what it even was. Turns out that svchost.exe is a function of Windows that allows applications to use all of the Dynamic Link Libraries (dlls) on your machine and that any number of svchost.exe processes will be spun up by Windows as necessary to facilitate various applications.
So why now was svchost.exe using so much processor when I was not previously having any issues? I decided to right-click on the offending process in Task Manager and then selected Services from the context menu. This took me to the Services tab of the Task Manager with all of the services associated with the process conveniently highlighted. It turns out that the offending service had to do with the Homegroup Listener that was waiting for something to happen on my home network. Eureka!
The solution was simple, I opened up the Network and Sharing Center (by clicking on the Wireless Signal icon in the system tray) and clicked the "Home Network" link under my active network and Win7 prompted me to select the type of network again. This time I told Windows 7 that my home network was a Work network and all is well in the land again! Since the Work network setting is just like the regular Windows networks that I am used to, no big deal and since there aren't any other computers on my home network that utilize the new Homegroup functionality, no lost "ease-of-use" functionality.