For most Windows users, a virus means nothing less than a nightmare, and for a good reason. Malware could interfere with how your PC operates and might eventually destroy it completely. Sometimes, it may appear from the most unexpected forms – for instance, an executable file. In other words, what you thought could be an important system virus could be the very thing that paralyzes your system.
In this post, we will discuss one of the mysterious, yet utterly essential, processes that run in Windows: svchost.exe. Specifically, we will tell you what it is, if it is a virus or not, and then finally dive into solutions. So, let’s get started.
So, What is Svchost.exe?
First, Svchost stands for Service Host, and it is a software component of Windows. So, svchost.exe is a genuine Windows system file that hosts or contains one or many Windows services. For instance, Windows Update and Windows Defender use one of the services that are hosted by a svchost.exe process.
The process is sometimes known as the Generic Host Process for Win32 Services or Host Process for Windows Services, among other similar names. The legitimate version of the file is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder, and it has a known size of 20,992 bytes, 14,336 bytes (almost a half of all occurrences), and 45 other known variants.
Typically, one or more Service Host processes are running at any given time, given that separate processes handle different groups of services. For instance, svchost.exe might be handling network-related services, while another service host process might handle services relating to remote procedural calls, etc. You can find svchost.exe and other similar processes running in the Task Manager. Generally, svchost.exe is closely associated with shared service processes responsible for reducing computer resource consumption.
Type: It is a Windows system file.
Danger Level: It is a low-level threat. But there is a potential danger of being a malicious program if a malware uses a similar name as a disguise.
Symptoms: It might not display any visible window, but you can find the process running in the Task Manager.
Distribution Method: The legitimate version of the file comes pre-installed with Windows OS. But the malicious version may sneak into your system through means such as malicious email attachments, unprotected P2P networks, and malicious pop-ups.
More Details about Svchost.exe
Having known what it is, you could also be curious to know what exactly is being executed by svchost.exe. To find out the processes running on your computer, follow the steps below:
Option 1 Use Command Line
- Press the Windows log and R keys simultaneously to launch the Run dialog box.
- Type cmd into the text field and press Enter.
- Once the Command Prompt window opens, type tasklist/SVC, then hit Enter. Executing this command will give you a list of dynamic libraries that svchost.exe is running.
The only challenge with this option is that it displays weird-looking processes that may appear even more mysterious than svchost.exe itself. So, if you are not tech-savvy, you are unlikely to make anything out of it.
Option 2: Check Related Task in the Task Manager
- Type task manager into the search field and press Enter.
- Open the Task Manager app, then navigate to the Processes tab.
- Here, you will check all the processes running on your computer.
- If a process serves several services, you can expand the process to see all those services.
- For your case, you need to expand the Service Host process.
- You can right-click on any of the svchost.exe processes, and then view it in the Services Control Panel app. If you are using Windows 7, you will right-click on the service, then choose Go to Service to flip you over to the Services tab.
- You can then see a full description of each service.
Option 3: Use Process Explorer
Fortunately, Microsoft has a program that allows you to check all the processes running on your PC. It is called Process Explorer, but it is a standalone app. So, you need to download and install it. If you have installed it, launch the app and proceed with the instructions below:
- Look out for svchost.exe in the left-side panel. You can hover over it to see more details about it.
- But if you want real details, right-click on svchost.exe, then choose Properties.
- Now, navigate to the Services tab to see more details.
So, Is Svchost.exe Malicious or Not?
By now, you are probably asking yourself: Is svchost.exe a virus? Well, the authentic svchost.exe file is not a virus. As touched on above, svchost.exe is an important part of Windows. Therefore, its technical security rating is 8% dangerous. Unfortunately, hackers might disguise malicious files, such as worms, viruses, and Trojans, using names similar to these processes. So, if your svchost.exe is consuming much of your CPU, it is likely to be a malware infection.
The svchost.exe file usually resides in “%SystemRoot%\SysWOW64\svchost.exe” or “%SystemRoot%\System32\svchost.exe”. So, if you find this file elsewhere, that should tell you it is not legitimate in short, a virus. Likewise, if the file has a slightly distorted name, for instance, Svchosts (with an additional s) or Svhost (without the c), then that might also indicate a malware infection.
How to Detect Malicious Variants
Based on what we discussed above, there are several ways to recognize suspicious variants of the svchost.exe file. Here are the commons ones:
- If svchost.exe is found in a subfolder of C:\Windows, then you should treat it as a risk. Its security rating is 63% dangerous. In 12% of all occurrences, the file size is 1,563,136 bytes, but it can also be 1,605,120 bytes and 188 other variants. This version of svchost.exe is not a core Windows file and usually has no visible window. This malicious file can monitor your applications and track your keyboard inputs.
- If the svchost.exe process resides in a subfolder of the user’s profile folder, then it is, without a doubt, a malicious entity. This file has a security rating of 79% dangerous. In almost 10% of all occurrences, its file size is 3,580,520 bytes, but it has 240 other variants. As in the case above, this version of svchost.exe can record your keyboard activities and monitor your applications.
- If the svchost.exe file is located in the C:\Program Files subfolder, then it is a more dangerous file with a security rating of 69%. Its known size is 376,832 (4% of all occurrences).
- If your version of svchost.exe is found in C:\Windows folder, then its security rating is 57% dangerous and usually tiny. Its size is 20,480 bytes (almost a quarter of all occurrences).
As you can see from the above trend, if your file is not found in the C:\Windows\System32 folder, then it is considered a malicious object. To ensure that there is no rogue svchost.exe file running on your computer, use a reliable antivirus program.
How to Remove Svchost.exe from Your Computer?
If svchost.exe is using too much memory or if you suspect it to be a virus, then you will probably want to delete it. You can do it manually or use a professional malware removal tool to automate the process.
Manual malware removal is not only a tedious task, but also a risky one. It is usually best to allow a powerful anti-malware program to search for the svchost.exe virus and remove it automatically. We recommend using Outbyte Anti-Malware for this task. The program checks every corner of your device, including the registry, browser extensions, and Task Scheduler for traces of malicious objects.
But if you prefer removing it manually, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Stop It from the Task Manager
- Type Task Manager into the search bar, then open the app from the results shown.
- Now, navigate to the Processes tab, then choose Show processes from all users.
- Once you spot svchost.exe, right-click on it and choose Go to Service. Check the services that are highlighted there. To stop a service, right-click on it, and then choose Stop Service.
- Alternatively, right-click on the svchost.exe process, and then choose Open File Location.
- After that, right-click on the same svchost.exe process, then select End Task. If that doesn’t work, open the folder again by following Step 4, and then try deleting the svchost.exe file from there. Just right-click on it and select Delete.
Step 2: Reset Your Browsers to Their Defaults
If you receive annoying ads or you are being redirected to malicious sites, reset your browser to its original defaults. Here is how to do it:
- Launch Chrome, then expand the gear icon.
- Select Settings > Advanced.
- Now, navigate to the Reset and clean up section, and then click Restore settings to their original defaults.
- Confirm your action by clicking Reset Settings.
- Launch Internet Explorer, then expand the gear icon to give more options.
- Choose Internet Options.
- Navigate to the Advanced tab and then select Reset.
- When prompted, click again on the Reset button, then the Close button.
- Click on the menu icon and select Help.
- Click on Troubleshooting Information.
- Now, click on the Refresh Firefox link in the upper-right corner.
- After that, confirm your setting by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
- Click Finish when prompted.
- Open Microsoft Edge, then go to Apps and Features.
- Choose Microsoft Edge > Advanced Options.
- Now, click the Reset button.
Step 3: Double-Check for Virus Leftovers
After you have completed the above steps, you might also want to confirm that there aren’t any leftovers. To do so, download Outbyte PC Repair, which will fully scan your computer. Besides removing malware traces, this tool will also get rid of other junk on your system, and then tune it for top performance.
Svchost.exe is a harmless Windows system file, only that cybercriminals might use a similar name as a disguise. If that is the case, then this version of svchost.exe is dangerous and should be removed. So, if this file is taking much of your CPU resources, follow our recommendations, and your computer should not be free of svchost.exe issues.