What is taskhostw.exe on Windows 10 and is it really safe?

By ivan.diskin | May 5, 2019 |

greater than 7 minutes

If you have noticed taskhostw.exe processes in Task Manager, it’s understandable if you’re alarmed, especially during times when your computer is running slow. However, we recommend that you read through this article before you take any drastic action that might end up harming your PC. We’ll explain, in detail, what taskhostw.exe is, what it does, if it’s harmful or not, and how to fix problems related to the file.

What is taskhostw.exe and how to fix it?

Taskhostw.exe is an executable file developed by Microsoft for Windows. This particular file is associated with Windows 10. It is a Windows operating system process and is also identified as a Host Protocol. It also runs on Windows 8 and Windows 7, but with different names, such as “taskhost.exe” for Windows 7. In Windows 10, “takhostw” stands for Task Host for Windows.

The main job of the software is to launch DLL services on your Windows 10 PC when it boots up. It hosts the various processes that carry out the execution of DLL operations on the PC. DLL (Dynamic Link Library) files contain specific instructions that programs on the PC call upon to perform certain actions like locating files in certain directories, using a printer, and looking for space on the hard drive. A DLL file makes it easy for multiple different programs to share and utilize its abilities, even concurrently.

Taskhostw.exe also works to ensure that open applications, programs, and other processes are closed properly during a shut-down. An example that you might be cognizant of is open Microsoft Word files. When Word documents are open and you attempt to shut down your PC without first closing them, a Task Host window will be opened.

Taskhostw.exe can be found in the C:\windows\system32 folder and is a hidden Microsoft-signed Windows file, which means that it isn’t visible but you will be able to see the process in Task Manager. The file, on its own, is safe, but there are issues that can cause it to trigger errors and/or high CPU usage. We’ll explain more of these below.

Is taskhostw.exe a virus?

Most users begin to panic upon seeing the taskhostw.exe process in the task manager because they don’t know what it is. The truth is that the original file itself isn’t a virus and is an important part of Windows. However, it can hog system resources such as RAM and CPU when it is infected or runs into different problems. When this occurs, you can apply certain tweaks to fix the problem.

That said, there have been reports of different malicious programs designed to mimic taskhostw.exe. Hackers and developers of malware programs such as Trojans, worms, and viruses purposely assign the same name to their processes so they can run undetected. While these processes, in this case, are malware that you should get rid of, note that they’re not associated, in any way, to Windows 10 processes and the original taskhostw.exe.

Here are ways that you can detect the true taskhostw.exe and malware masked as the file:

  • The original host protocol taskhostw.exe is located in C:\windows\system32.
  • The known sizes of the file on Windows 10 are 71,848 bytes, 71,280 bytes, or 71,792 bytes.

Identifying suspicious files:

  • Any taskhostw.exe file located in a C:\Program Files subfolder is dangerous. This is a malicious program that has no business being a Windows OS file, and it has no visible window. The malware can record mouse and keyboard inputs, monitor programs, and manipulate other applications. It usually has a file size of 1,113,088 bytes or 1,705,984 bytes.
  • If the file is located in your profile subfolder such as a folder in C:\documents and settings\username or C:\Users\username (where “username” is your user account name), then it is a virus. It will have no descriptions, will be able to monitor programs, and can cause serious harm to your computer. The usual size of this file is 1,385,980 bytes or 1,379,328 bytes.

How to fix taskhostw.exe high CPU usage?

With the original taskhostw.exe, there are instances where the process can cause high CPU usage, which will likely result in laggy performance. The process also encounters problems that result in errors such as:

  • Taskhostw.exe – Access denied
  • Taskhost.exe – Application error
  • Taskhost.exe – Error

We’ll explain some of the causes below:

Mistakenly deleted system files

If you delete a system file that is associated with taskhostw.exe or other related files such as DLL files, these errors will pop up when their processes are launched. Also, the files might be mistaken for malware by your antivirus program and deleted as a result.

Partial or improper installation/uninstallation of certain programs

If you’ve recently installed or uninstalled an application and the process is incomplete, this could be the reason you’re facing issues with taskhostw.exe. The program could be one of such applications that use the taskhostw.exe file. When not properly installed or changed, it could leave bad files on your computer, and they will clash with taskhostw.exe because when taskhostw.exe calls these files, there’s no program to respond since the associated program has been removed or has not been installed properly.

Bad DLL files

They are one of the common causes of high CPU usage by taskhostw.exe. Certain applications, upon installation, replace existing DLL files to suit their processes. This usually results in these DLL files malfunctioning. When uninstalling an application, a DLL file can be deleted. What’s more, malware infection can also damage DLL files.

When a DLL file is bad and is called up by taskhostw.exe, errors or high CPU usage occur.

Corrupt registry keys

If registry keys and entries are corrupt, the taskhostw.exe file can run into problems, which will result in error messages and high CPU usage. Malware may infect registry keys that are associated with Windows, or there could be wrong registry entries due to an improper change or uninstallation/installation of certain programs.

Virus attack

Certain malware and viruses can cause damage to the taskhostw.exe file itself. Naturally, this will result in errors.

Device driver problems

Many device drivers, such as printer drivers, are associated with DLL files. If these device drivers are damaged, corrupt or missing, there will be interference with DLL files and, by extension, taskhostw.exe.

Now, without much ado, let’s dive into how the problems can be fixed!

1. Conduct a comprehensive malware scan

Since writers of malware applications disguise their processes as taskhostw.exe, you could well be facing high CPU usage as a result of these programs, and some of the taskhostw.exe processes you’re seeing in Task Manager might be malicious. Running a virus check can save you from future problems such as damage to your PC and theft of sensitive information. Your CPU and RAM will also be freed up.

A good program to use is Auslogics Anti-Malware. It’s a sophisticated tool that can fish out these malicious processes and put an end to them. It is compatible with Windows 10 and can run with or without other system protection software on your computer to give you the protection that you need.

2. Run System File Checker

Certain system files may become corrupt as a result of an improper shutdown or other issues. The System File Checker can be used to scan for such corrupted Windows files and restore them. We’ll put you through a complete step-by-step guide on how to do this:

Since you’re on Windows 10, you’ll first need to run the inbox Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool before you scan and restore with the System File Checker:

  1. Press the Windows and X keys together and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.
  2. Press Yes in the User Account Control prompt and type the following command into the black window:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restoreheal

Wait for the operation to be completed as it may take several minutes.

Note that the above command works by providing the files required to fix your computer through Windows Update, so your computer has to be online.

  1. Now, type the command below and hit Enter:

sfc /scannow

This command will scan the protected Windows OS files. If corrupted files are found, they will be replaced with cached copies normally located in a compressed folder at C:\Windows\System32\dllcache.

3. Restore your PC

Another possible solution to the issue is restoring your system to a previously working state. This is effective when you start noticing the high CPU usage or errors after a recent installation or uninstallation of an application. It could also fix Windows registry problems. Follow these steps to restore your PC:

  1. Go to Cortana search and type “restore point.”
  2. Select Create a Restore Point from the displayed results.
  3. The System Properties window will pop up.
  4. In the System Protection tab, click System Restore.
  5. When the System Restore window is launched, click Next, select a restore date, and then click Next again.
  6. Now, click Finish to confirm and allow the tool to do its job. Once your system restarts, check if your CPU usage is still high.

4. Repair corrupted DLL files

Like we stated above, bad DLL files cause taskhostw.exe errors and high CPU usage. In many cases, users experience this when launching or playing games, trying to play certain media files, or when they’re trying to use devices such as printers.

To fix the issue without hassle, it’s best to use Auslogics Driver Updater. The tool will scan for and identify problematic drivers and then download and install them from the right source. You may find it difficult locating the driver in question that’s causing the problem, which is why Auslogics Driver Updater can be a godsend.

5. Reinstall, repair or update problematic software

If you recently installed a program, try reinstalling it. This is because the installation might not be complete and could be causing issues as a result. If there’s a recent update for the software, download and install it.

6. Update your Windows 10

Taskhostw.exe errors can be resolved by installing new Windows updates. The new patches can automatically fix the issue, especially when corrupt system files are involved. To update:

  1. Click the Start button and go to Settings.
  2. In the Settings window, click Update & Security.
  3. Select Check for Updates and allow Windows to download and install the latest patches and software for your computer.

Summing up

We don’t recommend that you delete taskhostw.exe from C:\windows\system32 as it is an important part of Windows. We believe that, at least, one of these solutions will fix the problem you’re facing. If you have any issues or need further clarification, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section below and we’ll be happy to help!

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