What is svchost.exe, How to Stop it from using CPU Cycles

svchost.exe is a very common name seen in the Windows Task Manager, but most of us would always keep wondering what it is, when we haven’t actually ever opened a file or program with such a name. What is it, you may ask. Here’s the simple explanation in contrast to the Italic way Microsoft tried to explain it in their support section – Instead of the standard .exe files, Microsoft is using the .dll files for the functionality from the internal services, but the .dll files cannot directly be launched in the Windows OS, thus a running executable .exe host file is to be used, and this is where the Windows OS uses the svchost.exe to run the various processes.

Thus, several svchost.exe processes running in the background would not be a surprise, but they would be annoying at particular times when all the 100% processes usage is taken up by them, and you wonder what could be done about that. Not sure whether your computer has these running in the background? open Task Manager and go to the Processes tab, where you need to select the option “Show processes from all users”, and a big list of such host processes would appear under the user names “Local”, “System” and “Network”.

svchost.exe processes

Another way to check the processes running with the svchost.exe, is by opening the Command prompt. Not sure how to do that? go to Start and type “cmd” and open the cmd prompt.
Type the following text and press enter:

tasklist /SVC

svchost processes in CMD

This again is actually not useful if you aren’t unsure of the different cryptic names given along, and the command prompt won’t be able to help you in doing something with them.

Check Services being run by svchost.exe

If your computer’s CPU cycles are being eaten up by the svchost processes, then checking for the services which are actually being run by them have to be checked and manually terminated if you feel they shouldn’t be running. That can be done either through the Task Manager, or through third party software like Process Explorer, though the Task Manager here is quite enough, and the steps below would explain how to check for the services.

In the Windows Vista, Windows 7 / 8 the process is the same. Right click on one of the svchost.exe processes in the Task Manager, and click on the option “Go to services”.

svchost.exe Go to Services

That would open the Services tab with the all svchost.exe based services running highlighted. Sort them by group and you would be able to see the real name of the service under the Description.

svchost.exe Services Running

Close Particular Service run with svchost.exe

Now comes the main part, which you wanted to do when your computer was suffocating without much space to breathe, because most of the cycles were eaten up by the svchost.exe processes. Frankly, I saw the Windows update using at least 30% of the CPU cycles many a times, and that was unnecessary especially when there is something else to do but the computer slows down and doesn’t allow me to.

From the list of the services being run, select the particular service which you feel is using up the cycles and is not really needed for now. Right click, and you would see the option “Stop Service”. Click on that and relax, the performance would get better. But don’t assume that as an achievement because you are killing tasks which Windows OS has marked as Important, thus it is running it in the background – especially the Windows updates.

svchost stop service

The advantage here is, that you can always stop and again start the service manually from the same section, thus you are not totally killing or terminating a task for it’s own automated start up, but you can start it again once you feel things are back to normal.

svchost Windows Update service stopped

Is the svchost.exe harmful / vulnerable to Virus?

As far as things aren’t being picked by your Antivirus (given that you are using a well recommended one), it is safe, and if these all exes run under the System32 folder under the Windows directory, your computer is safe and this is not a virus file. And the vulnerability part doesn’t come here because these are just the host files to run the .dll files.
But if you see such svchost.exe files in any other folder than Windows/System32 then you better check it with an antivirus software as that is unusual and risky.

Other workarounds for svchost.exe service management

The other workarounds which would be useful if you are using any other Windows OS version, than the Windows 7, 8 or Vista, include using these softwares which are not really hard to understand.

  • Process Explorer – A tidy software for this, where you can hover the cursor over the particular svchost.exe file and it would show you the services run. Click on the executable, and simply click on Stop.
  • Task Scheduler – This is something seen in the NT based Windows OS versions, and this would set some automated programs to happen at particular times. You can directly alter the programs and stop the hosting of services that are going to happen on timely basis.

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