You might not understand this, but right now, there are a number of hidden system processes running on your Windows PC (if you are using one). They allow you to view this page, determine the time, alert you to the latest emails, update your computer, etc. – all without much (if any) interacting with these processes directly.
However, if you look at the Windows Task Manager, you might be amazed at the number of system processes running that you are not familiar with. One example is csrss.exe. If you’re wondering what csrss.exe is, don’t worry – it’s not a virus. Here’s everything you need to know about the csrss.exe process on Windows.
What is Csrss.exe?
A quick Google search will reveal many articles with clickbait titles asking if csrss.exe is a virus or not. As we mentioned, csrss is a normal Windows system process and is arguably one of the most important system processes that you have never heard of, so no, it is not a virus, but it can be spoofed (as we will explain).
First, a little background. This process has been a vital part of the Windows operating system since Windows 3.1, back in 1993. It was and remains a vital component that helps provide limited access to other parts of the Windows operating system without compromising the security of your system.
Back in 1993, csrss.exe managed your entire user interface, including displaying program windows, creating a mouse cursor, and more. Now, csrss.exe has more limited functionality, but it still controls some important items, such as the shutdown of the Windows GUI on shutdown.
Terminating or uninstalling Csrss.exe should be impossible – Windows 10 doesn’t allow this, but older versions of Windows do. However, if you do this, your system will crash as Windows relies on csrss.exe to function properly.
How to remove Csrss.exe from Windows 10
If you were looking for this query, stop before doing anything else. The real csrss.exe file is an essential Windows system component and cannot be removed without stopping Windows.
Much of the confusion about Csrss.exe virus and malware reports comes from scammers. Earlier it was reported that fraudulent support agents used the presence of csrss.exe running in the background as proof of the existence of a virus to try to protect the payment.
This is not correct, so do not try to delete the actual csrss.exe file (located in C: Windows System32) from your Windows PC, as you will have to erase and reinstall Windows after that.
There are also some (very limited) cases where the csrss.exe file you see on your computer is not a real process. You can check this by following these steps.
How to check if Csrss.exe is real or not
You may be wondering if the csrss.exe process is dangerous on your system. In most cases, the answer is no – at least the actual csrss.exe process is not dangerous. The emphasis here is strictly on whether the process is real (and therefore a genuine Windows system process) or whether it is fake.
It has been reported that some types of malware try to reproduce the csrss.exe file name in order to hide itself as a system process. Fortunately, there is an easy way to check if the csrss.exe file running on your computer is real or not.
- First open the Windows Task Manager. You can do this by right-clicking the Windows Start menu and choosing Task Manager from the options menu. Or press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open it manually.
- On the Processes tab in the Windows Task Manager window, find the client / server runtime process. This is the official process name csrss.exe and should be listed in the Windows process group. You may see it listed twice, but that’s not a problem. If it is not in the Windows process group, it is most likely a bogus process.
- To verify this, right-click one of the listed client-server runtime options, then click Open File Location. Just in case, you can repeat this step for both of the listed processes.
- This will open the location of the csrss process in Windows Explorer. If a real csrss process is running, it should display the file inside the system folder C: Windows System32. In this case, you can be sure that the process running on your computer can be left running.
However, if Windows Explorer opens in a different location, then the process that is running is not a true client-server runtime file (csrss.exe). In the unlikely event that this happens, you will urgently need to scan your Windows computer for malware to identify an infection.
Can Csrss.exe cause excessive CPU, RAM, or other high system resource usage?
In Windows 10, the csrss.exe process isn’t really responsible for much, much of its previous functionality is split into other processes. This means that for the most part you shouldn’t see a lot of system resource usage in the process.
If you see a client-server execution process listed in Windows Task Manager that uses a lot of system resources (for example, high CPU or RAM usage), then this indicates some problem with the Windows installation.
Verify that the file is not malicious by following the steps listed above, including scanning your computer at the download level. If you are sure that malware is not the cause, the problem might be with a different Windows installation.
Since the csrss process is tied to the Windows GUI, be sure to check your graphics card drivers, especially if you recently installed a new graphics card This is hardly the reason, but it is still worth checking out.
If you’re out of options and your system resource usage is still too high, you may need to reset your Windows installation to start with a fresh set of system files and a new configuration.
Staying Safe with Windows 10
The csrss.exe process, like other Windows system processes such as msmpeng.exe and svchost.exe, is extremely important. Removing them can damage your system and render it unusable. There are other ways to keep yourself safe with Windows 10, including using Windows Security to scan your PC for malware on a regular basis.
High system resource utilization is often a concern, but if your computer doesn’t seem to be slow, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you are concerned, there are Windows diagnostic tools with which you can check the health of your computer. This could indicate a hardware issue, so if budget isn’t an issue, you might need to consider upgrading your PC next time.