Windows service host: biometric service CPU usage too high. Solved

How to solve problems with hardware drivers on a Windows PC

Windows 10 sometimes has a compatibility problem with the biometric sensors in a PC, such as a fingerprint reader or face recognition, causing high CPU usage. Here is the solution.

With Windows 10 being updated twice a year, sometimes with quite big changes, there is always the potential for something to go wrong. You are lucky if you have never had a problem with a Windows update and sooner or later you may face a compatibility issue with the software or hardware in your computer.

Don’t panic! Fortunately, problems are often easily solved. It is not always the case for everyone, but solutions can be found to most update issues if you look hard enough.

What is biometric data?

Biometric data are the physical attributes that uniquely identify a person and an example is fingerprints. Everyone has different fingerprints and so they can be used to distinguish one person from another.

What is Service Host: Biometric Service?

This is a Windows service that enables biometric data to be collected, manipulated and compared by applications on a PC. For example, the biometric service could used to read a fingerprint and compare it with the one stored, to identify you.

What is the problem with biometric service?

A compatibility issue can cause the service to use too much CPU. Normally, it sits in the background and uses 0% CPU when not used. A problem can arise that causes it to constantly use 18% to 35% CPU.

Windows Task Manager showing the biometric services
The Biometric Service uses too much CPU on this Windows PC

The first things you will notice is that the computer becomes warmer than usual and the fan can be heard as it speeds up to dissipate the extra heat that is produced by the CPU. You might feel the fan blowing out the hot air from inside the computer.

Fix high CPU with Service Host: Biometric Service

There are several possible solutions and the obvious ways to fix the biometric service are to update it or remove the software causing it.

The problem has appeared on HP computers, but it could also appear on others too. On HP laptops or PCs, it can be caused by an app called HP SimplePass, which is used to read your fingerprint. The idea is that you can log into websites, the PC and other places with a fingerprint instead of having to remember and enter a complicated password. Just touch the fingerprint reader and you are logged in.

HP SimplePass app on a Windows PC showing the menu
HP SimplePass menu

Run HP SimplePass, or whatever the fingerprint reader is called on your computer, and look for an option to update it. Clicking the ? in the top right corner of this one displays a menu and there is an option to check for updates.

Unfortunately, it did not work in my case and an update could not be found. There are two possibilities now and one is to simply uninstall the software, HP SimplePass in my case, it might be called something else if you have a different make of computer.

Programs and Features in the Control Panel on a Windows computer
Uninstall apps with Programs and Features in the Windows Control Panel

Open the Control Panel > Programs and Features or Settings > Apps and find HP SimplePass, then uninstall it.

Update the driver

The other possible solution is to update the driver. I did not want to completely remove SimplePass and it may be useful sometime, so I got the free version of IObit Driver Booster. Keep your wits about you and pay attention when installing it. Opt out of any extras that might be offered or you could end up with something you don’t want.

When Driver Booster is run, scan the system for drivers and updates. Clear the checkbox at the top to opt out of updating all the drivers and select only Biometric devices. Do not update everything – if it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it!

IObit Driver Booster free
IObit Drover Booster free finds and updates drivers

After updating the biometric devices driver, I didn’t even need to reboot. Service Host: Biometric Service CPU usage went down to 0% and the fan stopped blowing out hot air.

You can remove Driver Booster afterwards or at least stop it from automatically starting with Windows or automatically updating drivers. I prefer to install it and run it only when I have a problem rather than all the time.

The computer should now be back to normal. Well, at least until the next Windows update.

Another solution that some people have used is to click Start and type Device Manager. Open the utility and expand the Biometric devices section. Right click the Validity Sensors entry and uninstall it.

Uninstalling a device in Device Manager on a Windows computer
Uninstall a device and restart to replace a driver

Reboot Windows and a new driver will automatically be installed for it. Some people have found that the high CPU usage problem is now fixed.

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