What Is conhost.exe and How Can I Fix It? [Troubleshooting Guide]

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Conhost.exe is a console window host process that is found on computers running Windows 7 (or later) OS. It’s an essential file, and it usually works and serves its purpose without giving any trouble to the system user. Sometimes though, due to various reasons, it can start using up vast amounts of system resources and eventually making your system inoperable. If you open up the windows task manager and look closely, you will find that your system might be running multiple instances of conhost. In most cases, it’s normal, especially if your system has a dedicated graphics card and you are using a GPU intensive application.

Remember that if you try to close the instance forcibly, then it might cause data loss and even unwarranted system shutdown. Unfortunately, because this system process is so common, virus and trojan creators develop their malicious applications with the same name and make it difficult for you as a user to accurately differentiate between the real and the malicious conhost instance.

Table of Contents

What is conhost.exe Host Process?

Conhost or when technically speaking Console Window Host Process is a vital system file in Windows 7 and later released operating systems. It’s an essential file that allows modern applications to interact with the old-fashioned Command Prompt.

Two Important Benefits of Conhost.exe

  1. Since it sits between the command prompt and Windows, it means that you can enjoy using a prettier, more ‘windows styled’ version of the command prompt.
  2. It is more secure. It acts as a buffer from CSRSS, which still exists, and it means that the system should, in theory, be more stable.

Back in the days when Windows XP was the prominent OS, command prompt used to be managed by the process called CSRSS.exe (technically referred to as Client/Server Runtime Subsystem Service).

What is CSRSS?

It is a crucial subsystem process and shouldn’t be stopped at any cost or system running Windows XP will either shut down unexpectedly, or running applications will crash. With Windows 7 (and later released versions), Microsoft improved the way that the system worked and changed from the system-wide CSRSS to a safer ‘wrapper’ called the Console Window Host.

Note: Microsoft has officially declared end-of-support for XP. It basically means that XP won’t be receiving (after 8th of April, 2014) any updates related to security patches or feature improvements. So if someone found a vulnerability in CSRSS and exploited it, then they could “theoretically” gain access to the whole system. Furthermore, if your computer has a virus or a malware and if somehow managed to corrupt the Client/Server Runtime Subsystem, then your order will suffer a frequent crash.

Why My Computer Has so Many conhost Processes?

You don’t have to worry as it is completely normal and is expected behaviour in XP operating system. You will see multiple instances of the conhost process in your task manager if you have any application or driver software installed on your computer that needs to access CMD in the background. Applications are xsplit, Nvidia control panel, AMD graphics panel and similar usually require multiple instances of CMD in the background to perform their tasks normally.

In general, each of those instances should consume very little in terms of CPU and memory usage. Typically, they will operate at 5MB for memory and most certainly no more than 10MB for console window host. When ideal, they will usually have 0% CPU usage unless they are using the command prompt to perform any of their tasks.

Troubleshooting conhost Host ProcessIf you see Console Window Host using a lot of CPU, then you should try closing the other applications that you are running, one at a time, and waiting a few moments after each one to see if it was the culprit. If you cannot identify the culprit through that, then download an application called Process Explorer from the official Microsoft.com website, and run it.

Process Explorer will let you see which processes are connected. Press Ctrl+F and then enter ‘conhost’ in the search box. Click on each result and delve through it. You will see the main window show you which service or app is linked to that particular version of the process. Close that program, and hopefully, the process will stop using so many resources. Once you have identified the problem program, try restarting it to see if it causes problems again. If it does, try updating it to see if there is a patch that fixes the problem. Alternatively, try reinstalling it. If that doesn’t work, contact the developer to tell them that you’re having issues. They may have some useful suggestions for you.

Is conhost.exe a Virus?

In most cases, the host process is not a virus. However, there may be a malicious program trying to avoid detection by renaming itself the same as the legitimate Microsoft program. To make sure that the file is legitimate, right-click on the process in Task Manager, and then click on ‘Open File Location.’The legitimate version of Conhost.exe should be located in the System32 directory on your computer. Navigate to the following path: C:\Windows\System32 and then use the search to find conhost. You will notice that it’s relatively a small file (803KB) which handle lots of responsibilities.

If the file is large than 803KB or if it is located in a different directory like C:\Users\YouDon’tWannaSay\AppData\Roaming, or Program Files or just any other directory, then it is likely to be either a trojan or a virus.

One another way to identify a corrupted or infected conhost.exe file is by looking at its CPU usage. If the task manager shows that CPU usage is beyond 50%, then your system is definitely infected with a Virus.

Many users have also reported that many so-called “free” applications install their cryptocurrency Miners that behaves as the legitimate Console Window Host but in reality, uses your system’s resources to mine cryptocurrency.

If you are worried that you have a virus, then you should download and install any trusted antivirus suite like Bitdefender, Norton, Kaspersky, Avast or Avira. You can also download and install the Anti Malware application from Malwarebytes. But remember to install just one antivirus program. Installing multiple security applications will only make your computer’s condition worse as each of them will conflict with others, and you will continuously face issues like high CPU usage, low memory, sluggish system performance.

Pick one, uninstall the others, and if you are not using Windows Defender as your virus scanner, disable the antivirus feature of it. Run the virus scanner and allow it to remove any issues that it finds. Reboot, and then rerun it.

Do Not Trust Third-Party Warnings

Discard all warnings or pop-ups messages about viruses from the software that you don’t recognize or believe in having not installed yourself on your computer. These types of applications trick you into installing malicious apps. Furthermore, they don’t do any good for you. They actually generate revenue by promoting malicious files and show you advertisements and popups all day long.

Remember to download software only from their official websites. You can also download software from trustworthy sites such as Microsoft, CNet, Softpedia, Filehippo. If you are planning to download antivirus software, then download it only from the official site and nowhere else. Do not click on links in emails, and be sure to check the address in the address bar of every website you visit before you enter your login details.

Conhost is used only on Windows 7, 8 and 10. If you are using an older version of Windows for any reason, then you should see only CSRSS and not Conhost, so any Console Windows Host appearances in Task Manager should be cause for concern.

FAQs

Is conhost.exe Necessary?

Conhost.exe in Windows OS is critical for properly loading system drivers and software programs for Windows. The Windows Operating System controls all the I/O activity, as long as a user is logged in successfully, conhost.exe can load in the background so that a user can operate the system smoothly. If conhost.exe is not loading properly, Windows can shut down improperly, crashing of the operating system in the process, rendering the computer or mobile device vulnerable to various malware attacks.

What Is conhost.exe In Task Manager?

Unlike popular belief, conhost.exe is not a virus or trojan. Conhost.exe is a run-time process, and it is normally invoked when the Windows starts. The hardware access is given to conhost.exe when Windows process is loading. Microsoft uses the concept of conhost.exe to handle a host of things happening in the background. Conhost.exe is the most important Windows component when it comes to security on and off the computer. Conhost.exe is also used to keep track of all the windows of processes running. It runs with the highest privilege and gives the user the ability for all processes. It is used to handle the different references of an application or process in the Windows Operating System.

Is Conhost.exe Safe?

Conhost.exe is considered as a safe and a necessary file for the correct functionality of the Windows system. Most of the time, it is found on the C drive by default in Windows 7 and Windows 8. It is also found in the Windows Server 2012 operating system. If the Conhost.exe process is running in Windows 10, it just means that Windows is working as it is supposed to. However you can always check the services and process with the task manager, it should not be using up more than 30-50% of your CPU and should not be utilizing more than 1 GB of memory. If you find this, it may mean that your system is infected with a boot-loader or a rootkit and you need to scan your computer with a good anti-virus product. Some people might regard this as a malicious program activity, but it is not.

Is conhost.exe Malware?

conhost.exe is not malware. This Windows System file is classified as trusted and belongs to the Windows NT Kernel. It’s a common mistake to think that conhost.exe could be malicious or a virus. If you are experiencing problems with conhost.exe, these problems are likely caused by another running on your machine. Most Trojans and viruses indeed use shortcuts of this application to get to the Windows kernel or to execute malicious commands, but the conhost.exe file itself is not malware.

How To Check conhost.exe Windows Process?

Process Explorer is perhaps the easiest way to identify the conhost.exe file that you should see on your system. It identifies the process name in real-time, process creations, network connections and more functions, without having to worry about the format of the file. Process Explorer tells you the current processes running on your computer, along with resource usage info.

What Is Conhost EXE Used For?

Conhost.exe is used as a service or application. Microsoft uses this software to handle references to the applications or processes. It permits direct hardware access to the services and applications being called upon and runs under high privilege, it means that the conhost.exe process is not malicious, if it was malicious or hijacked by a virus then the Windows system will not be able to process and operate the system as it is supposed to.

Why Are There So Many Conhost EXE Running?

There may sometimes be several process names that are running conhost.exe. However, these multiple processes may only be several instances of the same program. If you find that many Conhost.exe processes are running at one time on your Windows machine, it does not mean that your computer is infected or hijacked. It is not unusual for Windows and its running programs to run many threads or processes.

Can I Delete Conhost EXE?

The process of deleting or terminating conhost.exe is not recommended by Microsoft or computer security professionals. Since Conhost.exe is a vital part of Windows, any termination of the service can cause major problems in Windows and its surrounding applications. It should only be taken down temporarily to help troubleshoot a problem you are having with this particular program. If you do not feel comfortable in terminating Conhost.exe process, then you should not do so until you are able to connect to a computer security professional to ensure that your machine is not infected or that it is not a malicious process.

How Do I Remove Conhost EXE From Windows 10?

If Conhost.exe is running on your Windows 10 machine and using up a huge amount of memory you can terminate it using the Task Manager. You can open the Task Manager by using the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys on your keyboard. In the Windows Task Manager window, go to the Processes tab and you will be able to see all the processes that are running. Scroll down until you find the conhost.exe file and right-click on it. Select the End Process option. When you have done that, the service will be terminated. This process will automatically open another service using the same name and process. This could be more or less stressful for the Windows OS. When you terminate the conhost.exe process, it does not necessarily mean that the Windows machine has to crash and hang up. You need to help to settle this by uninstalling all the programs which are nagging for this process. The conhost.exe process could also be used to add nag screens, adverts, trojan malware or other types of malicious software. You need to check whether Java, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat or PDFs are being hijacked by similar processes that are using conhost.exe as a shortcut. You can terminate the process using task manager. In the task manager, you can select the Processes tab and then you can scroll down until you find conhost.exe. Now, you can right-click on it and select the End Process option. Close the Task Manager and your process will now be terminated. If the same problem occurs, try to update your drivers to fix this problem.

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