When diagnosing high CPU or disk usage, the Task Manager in Windows is a user’s best friend. Giving real-time statistics on what processes are using which resources, you can identify a “rogue” process easily. Once you know what’s doing the damage, you can better remedy the issue and save your computer from being fried by its own processes.
You might notice a process that can spike to, or stay constantly at, a high CPU usage value. It’s called “Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation,” and it’s a problem a few users have faced. The question is what it means. This somewhat cryptic process name doesn’t do you any favors for tackling the issue and bringing your CPU usage down to a more reasonable level.
If you’re having problems with this strange process, let’s explore what it is, and more importantly, how to stop it from using your valuable resources.
What Is “Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation”?
Sounds very cryptic, doesn’t it? From the name alone you can derive that it’s something to do with the computer’s audio. Past that, however, it’s hard to tell what exactly this process does.
This process is mostly aimed towards developers creating drivers that can interact with the computer’s sound and to additional effects. Because this will affect all sounds coming from the computer, they have to talk to Window’s audio service.
To aid with this, Microsoft isolated a part of their audio service into a separate process which is Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation. Having a separate service from Window’s core process means that a crashing third-party audio driver won’t take out the entire operating system with it. It also supplies tools to aid with DRM.
Fixing the Issues
So now that we know what the process does, we can apply what we learnt to fix it should it go out of control.
Disabling Sound Effects
Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation was created to handle additional sound enhancements on your PC. Therefore, if we disable the PC’s ability to play sound enhancements, this might solve the problem. This is especially useful if you have zero desire to use sound enhancements on your PC. Note that this isn’t the same as disabling the computer’s sound! It’s just disabling the ability to add fancy effects to it (such as an echo).
To disable all sound enhancements, first right-click the speaker symbol in your tray, then click Playback Devices.
You’ll see a list of different ways your computer can output sound. Find the default device your PC uses to output sound. You can tell which this is because it’s labelled as “Default Device,” and the green bar to the right will light up as you play sounds on your PC.
Right-click this and click “Properties” or click on it and click the “Properties” button below.
In the window that pops up, go to the “Enhancements” tab.
You’ll see a list of sound effects you can apply to your sound. Of course, we’re not here to use these; we’re here to turn them off! At the top you should see an option to disable all sound effects. Check this and OK out of all windows.
This tells Windows you don’t want any additional sound effects, which should put a little less strain on the audio device graph isolation process.
Reinstall Audio Drivers
If this doesn’t do the job, the problem may not be with the sound effects. Instead, it might be with the audio driver that handles these effects.
To solve this, first download the current version of your audio drivers. You can do this from your PC manufacturer’s site, or you can find the model of your motherboard and search for audio drivers associated with it.
Once done, you can either install these straight away and see if it solves the problem or do a “clean sweep” of the drivers to ensure nothing from the old driver installs interferes.
To do a fresh install, we need the Device Manager. Press “Windows Key + R” and type
devmgmt.msc into the Run window that appears, then click OK.
Expand “Sound, video and game controllers,” right-click your audio driver, and click Uninstall.
In the popup that appears, check the box that asks if you want to delete your drivers and click OK.
Restart the PC. Windows will likely install audio drivers for you, but if you want to be absolutely sure you’re installing the best drivers for your PC, you can manually install them with the drivers you downloaded earlier.
Check for a Virus
If neither of the above options work, it might be a case of a virus disguising itself as the Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation process to perform its nasty deeds. In order to make sure you don’t have a virus on your hands, right-click the “Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation” process and click “Open file location.”
A folder will open. Check the file path for the folder. If it’s in System32, there’s a good chance it’s not a virus.
If it’s anywhere else, or if you’re still suspicious that a virus could be the problem, perform a full virus scan with your trusted antivirus solution immediately.
With such a cryptic name such as “Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation,” it’s hard to know how to troubleshoot problems with it. Now, however, you know what the process does, what areas of Windows it uses, and thus, how to control it should it go awry.
Did the above work for you? Let us know below.