Is dwm.exe Safe? Fix Desktop Window Manager Errors and High CPU Usage

This article helps you answer your bouts about the dmw.exe file: “Is dwm.exe safe?”, “what is dwm.exe?” and “why is dwm.exe using CPU?”

If you open your Windows Task Manager and notice a process called dwm.exe running in the background, your first thought can be, “Is dwm.exe safe?” You might wonder what it is or what it is doing on your PC. If you’re wondering what it is or what it’s doing on your PC, this article is for you.

Windows users who do not know about processes in detail often think that dwm.exe is a virus. More often than not, this is thanks to issues with the file consuming a large number of resources and slowing down your computer.  So, we put up this article to help you answer such questions as “Is dwm.exe safe?” and “what is dwm.exe?” and “why is dwm.exe using CPU?." Find out what dwm.exe is, why it’s using so much CPU, and whether or not you should remove it from your computer.

Is dwm.exe Safe?

Table of Contents 

What is dwm.exe?

What is dwm.exe?

DWM.exe stands for Desktop Window Manager, and it is a core process that is tightly connected to the File Explorer process. It is an executable file as denoted by the .exe file extension. So, Dwm.exe runs the Desktop Windows Manager.

The genuine dwm.exe file is an important software component of Microsoft Windows, and it is a Windows core system file by Microsoft. It’s responsible for handling elements such as Windows Aero, and other visual effects like Windows Flip and Windows Flip3D.

This makes the DWM process an important part of your Windows system that should be running on your computer. However, this doesn’t mean that the process can’t cause issues, performance drops, or even carry malware.

What Does DWM.exe do?

Desktop Window Manager supports and manages the graphical user interface of different versions of Windows such as Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and now Windows 10. The main job of DWM.exe is to enable hardware acceleration that supports Windows’s graphical user interface or visual effects.

The Visual effects that DWM.exe supports include:

  • The transparent or glass-like appearance.
  • The Flip3D Alt-tab windows switcher.
  • The rendering of each open window.

In addition, Desktop Window Manager can support other specific visual effects on desktops such as Windows Flip, transparent windows, and live taskbar thumbnails.

Some users have noted situations where Desktop window manager high CPU or Desktop windows manager high memory. This is a common error, especially in Windows 10. You can turn the Desktop Window Manager off or on through the Control Panel.

DWM.exe File Information  

Dwm.exe is an essential Windows system component and an integral part of File Explorer.

The file information of DWM.exe is as follows:

  • File Name (internal name): dwm.exe
  • Product Name: Desktop Window Manager 
  • Developer/Manufacturer: Microsoft Corporation
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7/XP 
  • Location: subfolder C:\Windows\System32 folder
  • Known file size(s): 92,672 bytes or 81,920 bytes on Windows 10/8/7/XP.

Note: The dwm.exe is a digitally signed product by Microsoft, has no file information, and is not visible.

Is dmw.exe Virus?

is dmw.exe a virus?

Simply put, DMW.exe file is not a virus. The true dmw.exe file is a safe software component from Microsoft and Windows system process. It is the file executable for Desktop Window Manager.

But any good file might be infected with malware to disguise itself and evade detection.

For example, writers of malware programs deliberately give their processes the same file name to evade detection. Some Viruses have the same file name, such as Artemis!A29094FF4DC2 (detected by McAfee) and Backdoor: Win32/Caphaw.H. Microsoft also detected a Trojan with the same name as dmw.exe called TrojanDownloader:Win32/Deewomz.A.

To ensure that no malicious dwm.exe is running on your PC, you need to scan your PC with quality antivirus software. Here at SoftwareKeep, we provide access to a variety of antivirus applications capable of detecting and disabling any virtual threat.

How to check if dwm.exe is safe or a Virus?

how do you recognizw if dwm.exe is a virus?

You cannot be sure if the dwm.exe process running on your computer is a virus unless you find out. 
You can recognize whether the dwm.exe is a virus using the following steps:

  1. Press the Win key + X key to open Windows Quick Menu.
  2. From the list, click Task Manager.
  3. Under the processes tab, find the Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe)
  4. Right-click on it > choose Open file location.
  5. Check if the dwm.exe file is in the C:\Windows\System32 folder
    1. If the file is located in the correct folder, then it isn’t a virus. Your device is safe.
    2. If the file is located in any different folder, it’s malware. Proceed with caution and acquire antivirus software as soon as possible.
  6. If it is in that folder then it isn’t a virus. Otherwise, it is a virus if:

Alternatively, you can also scrutinize the dwm.exe file for malware infections under the following circumstances:

  • If dwm.exe is located in a subfolder of the user’s profile folder. Malware posing as Windows processes will not be located in the correct “system32” folder. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the file location using the method above.
  • If the file size is bigger than the average file size. File size helps you determine if the dwm.exe process running on your computer is a virus. The file size should be small, sometimes negligible. If it’s larger than the known file size, you need to scrutinize it more because it can be a virus.
  • If the dwm.exe process is using a ton of resources. Malware, typically crypto-miners and Trojans use a lot of your computer’s resources after successfully infecting it. If the dwm.exe process is displaying high CPU or RAM, it may be a virus.

Why is dwm.exe Using High CPU?

If the Desktop Windows Manager shows high CPU or uses lots of memory, you may think it is a virus. While it’s a possible scenario, usually, it isn’t a virus.

Malware, temporary explorer bug, bad driver, a bug in 3rd party software, or even a nefarious mdi264.dll are known causes of dwm.exe using high CPU or memory. 

The dwm.exe CPU usage increases as you open more Windows programs, sometimes using several megabytes, which is normal. If you notice the Desktop window manager high CPU after closing most programs, you may need to take action. 

Can I Disable dwm.exe?

Yes, you can disable dwm.exe in older Windows versions. But it is not advisable to delete or disable the dwm.exe file because of its importance to Windows systems. 

If you’re trying to maximize the computer’s performance or are concerned about how much memory the dwm.exe process is using, you can disable it.

If you are using Windows Vista, you could disable  dwm.exe, which will, in turn, turn off all the Windows visual effects (in Windows Vista. The process, however, becomes a more integral part of Windows, beginning with Windows 7, and disabling it on any OS beginning with Windows 7 can affect your graphical user interface.

Read: How to Install and Uninstall Applications in Windows 10

How to Disable DWM.exe on Windows Vista or 7

If you need to disable dwm.exe in Windows Vista or 7 you can use the following steps:

  1. Click Start to open the Windows Start menu.
  2. Type services > click the Services app.
  3. In the Services window, locate and double-click Desktop Windows Manager.
  4. In the Desktop Windows Manager window, click Stop to disable the service.
  5. If you want dwm.exe never to start when Windows loads, change the Startup type option from Automatic to Disabled. Use the following steps:
    1. Click the Start Menu > Type services.msc.
    2. In the list of items, click the Services program.
    3. In the services management window, Right-Click Desktop Window Manager > Click Properties > go to the General tab.
    4. Now under Startup, Select Disabled, and underneath that, Click Stop.
    5. To finish, click OK.

Note: If you opted to disable dwm.exe, you’d notice that it also disables all Windows themes.  The classic Windows look is for some people, but for most, it’s a little dull. If you want to revert or enable dwm.exe, go back into services.msc and set the startup type to Automatic.

How to Remove dwm.exe Windows 10

To remove dwm.exe from your computer, carry out the following steps one by one:

Note: This procedure will uninstall dwm.exe if it was part of the software installed on your computer.

  1. If the file is a part of a software program, it will have an uninstall program. Run the uninstaller located at the following directory: 
    1. C:Program Files > Microsoft Windows Operating System > Manager de ferestre desktop > Desktop Window Manager > dwm.exe_uninstall.ex.
  2. If the dwm.exe was installed using the Windows Installer, follow this process to uninstall it: 
    1. Go to System Settings.
    2. Open Add Or Remove Programs Option.
    3. Search for dwm.exe or the software name Manager de ferestre desktop in the search bar.
    4. Then click on it and select the Uninstall Program option.
    5. This will remove the dwm.exe file from your computer. 

Note that disabling dwm.exe also disables support for all Windows Vista themes, forcing you to use the classic theme. If you want to revert, you’ll need to re-enable dwm.exe by going back into Services and setting the startup type to Automatic.

If dmw.exe was using high memory and causing PC slowdown, removing it can help improve your PC speed. 

Read: How to Speed up Windows 10

How to Fix dwm.exe Error and High CPU usage on Windows 10

Disabling the dwm.exe service is not recommended or possible on systems released after Windows Vista. Because of this, troubleshooting errors and high resource usage related to the process requires different methods.

The procedures below will help you fix dwm.exe using high CPU or high memory. Some methods may require you to have administrative permissions to perform them.

Need help? Check out our How to make a local user an administrator in Windows 10 guide.

1] Scan your Computer for Malware

If the dwm.exe is using high CPU power or memory, it might be due to malware such as computer viruses, hidden crypto-currency miners, and spyware. In this case, you must use an antivirus application to scan your device and detect threats.

First, scan your computer using the built-in Windows Defender application on Windows 10.

  1. Press Windows Key + I.
  2. Select Updates & Security.
  3. Click Windows security.
  4. Click the Virus & threat protection option.
  5. Now, click Scan options under Quick Scan.
  6. Select Full Scan.
    scan your PC for malware

  7. Click Scan now.
  8. Wait for Windows Defender to finish scanning your computer. If any threats are detected, you’ll be presented with the choice to take action.

You may also want to scan your computer using a good quality, premium antivirus application. After first scanning your PC using Windows Defender, use third-party antivirus software to conduct a full PC scan.

Read our Best antivirus software for Windows 10 article to help you decide which antivirus app is best for your unique needs.

You may need to scan your computer using a quality antivirus. You can first scan your PC using Windows Defender then use a third party AV software, such as Malwarebytes, to conduct a full PC scan.

2] Restart explorer.exe process

Restarting the explorer.exe is a simple workaround to help stop dwm.exe using high RAM.

Use the following steps to restart explorer.exe:

  1. Right-click Windows Start to open Quick Menu.
  2. Select Task Manager.
  3. Go to the Details tab.
  4. Locate explorer.exe > right-click it > choose End Task.
  5. Now go to File > Run a new task.
    restart explorer.exe

  6. Enter explorer and click OK.

3] Update display adapters Drivers

If dwm.exe is using high RAM or CPU, updating display drivers can help sort the issue. 

Use the following procedure to update graphics drivers: 

  1. Press Win key + X to open Quick Menu.
  2. Select Device Manager.
  3. Locate and expand Display adapters > then right-click your video driver.
  4. Now, choose Update Driver.
  5. Select Search automatically for drivers.
    search automatically for drivers

  6. Wait for the update to complete, then restart your PC.

4] Adjust Performance Options 

It’s possible that your PC’s current performance settings affect the DWM. You can adjust your performance options to fix the DWM high CPU error using the following steps:

  1. Press Wins Key + S > type performance in the search box. 
  2. Click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  3. In the Performance Options window, go to the Visual Effects tab.
  4. Now, check to Adjust for best performance.
    adjust for performance

  5. Now, click Apply and OK to save changes, then restart your computer.

Read: How to Personalize Windows 10

5] Run SFC and DISM scans 

If all those procedures fail to fix the dwm.exe error, you can run the SFC utility scan to repair damaged or missing system files. 

To run the SFC and DISM scan, follow these steps:

    1. Press Wins Key + S > type cmd to open the command prompt.
    2. On the command prompt app click Run as administrator.
    3. Type the following command and press Enter: sfc/ scannow
      SFC scan

    4. Wait for the process to finish (it could take a while).
    5. Now, type the following commands (press Enter after each command);
      DISM scan
      1. DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth, 
      2. DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth.
    6. Wait for the process to complete (it could take several minutes).
    7. Restart your computer.

Final Thoughts 

We believe that you now have important information about the dwm.exe file. You now know it’s safe but not entirely because it can be infected by malware. In addition, when you notice dwm.exe using high CPU, you can use these detailed methods to fix the error.

One More Thing

If you need any further help with Windows or Windows applications, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team, available 24/7 to assist you. Return to our help center for more informative articles all related to productivity and modern-day technology!

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