Too many Svchost.exe Processes on Vista – Is it a virus?

Your Windows Vista computer is really slow, and the Task Manager is showing too many svchost.exe processes running on the computer. So you may ask yourself:

Is it a virus?
Is the file safe?

What should I do?

First, to put your mind to rest, the svchost.exe file on Vista or any other Windows operating system is not a virus. In fact, it is a genuine Windows file.

What is Svchost.exe?

Svchost.exe is basically a generic process in Windows that is used to run dynamic link library or DLL files. These DLL files, as the name suggests, are dynamic files used by Windows to save different programs codes that can be shared across multiple applications.

Although DLL files are also quite useful and help in saving a lot of space on the hard disk, they cannot run or execute on their own. They need to be loaded from an executable file and this purpose is solved by svchost.exe.

What usually happens is that services that are loaded to this executable file are grouped logically and then a single svchost.exe instance is used to load this group. So you might have one svchost.exe instance running for 3 or more services related to a firewall on your computer.

But Svchost.exe constantly shows high CPU or 100% CPU usage. What should I do?

Well, believe it or not, svchost.exe is not the culprit here. It is the other applications and services on your computer that might be the problem. So try to close applications that you are not using. Also, if one particular instance of svchost.exe is showing high CPU usage, you can try to shutdown and restart the services that are loaded to this particular instance.

For this, you will first have to find out the services that are loaded to this instance.

On a Windows XP computer, perform the following steps (you can use these steps on Vista also):

  1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd and press enter.
    Command prompt window will be displayed.
  2. Here type the following command and press Enter:
    tasklist /svc
    (Note: The results will display different services that each svchost.exe instance is running.)
  3. You can now identify and restart the services that are eating up the resources and restart them to speed up your computer.

This entire process is made easier on Windows Vista. Although you can still use the Command Prompts, you can also identify services through Task Manager:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to display Task Manager.
  2. Here on the Processes tab, right-click on the sbchost.exe instance that is showing high CPU usage and select Go to Service(s) from the right-click menu.
  3. You are taken to the Services tab, where all services being run by this svchost.exe instance will be displayed.

You can fix issues with these services to resolve the problem.

Remember, Svchost.exe in Vista is not a virus. It is a genuine file and if it is showing high CPU usage the problem is quite likely with the services this file is running. So use the steps given above to identify these services and fix issues related to them to resolve the problem.