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Multiple Svchost.exe, Dangerous or Safe?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help, Windows Explorer

Shreekanta from Bangalore writes:

I have a WindowsXP OS. The Windows Task Manager shows 5 to 6 svchost.exe would be running.

svchost.exe LOCAL SERVICE 4280 K
svchost.exe NETWORK SERVICE 3500 K
svchost.exe SYSTEM 3172 K
svchost.exe SYSTEM 20656 K
svchost.exe NETWORK SERVICE 4240 K
svchost.exe SYSTEM 4600 K

Why is it so ? And could I safely cancel any of them ?


Many people when they open task manager see the same thing you saw, multiple versions of svchost.exe running. They wonder if they can remove some of them or if they’ve been infected with some kind of virus. Don’t worry. The answer is you’re not infected, but you shouldn’t click end task on any of these items.

Svchost.exe is a generic host process Windows uses to run many of the services that are critical to your computer working correctly. Long ago each of the separate windows services ran under an exe file and you would have processes such as printspooler.exe and firewall.exe. Microsoft changed the way services are run from stand alone exe files to dll files and svchost.exe runs the dll files for each service.

Every copy of svchost.exe running can be for multiple services, usually those related to each other such as a virus scan engine and a firewall service. You can check which services are associated with each instance of svshost.exe by opening task manager, right clicking on a copy of svchost.exe and click “go to services”. You will be taken to the services window with the services running under that copy of svchost.exe highlighted.

You can manage which Windows services are enabled and disabled by going to  Services icon under Administrative tools on the Start Menu or by holding down the windows key and pressing the letter R to bring up a run dialog and typing services.msc and pressing enter. Changing which services are running can cause components of Windows and other programs to no longer work correctly.  I highly recommend you only make changes to this list if you know what you’re doing.


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One Response to “Multiple Svchost.exe, Dangerous or Safe?”

  1. Laverne says:

    The right-click menu on svchost.exe does NOT show those options in Windows XP.

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