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How to Fix High CPU Usage By Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng)

Windows Defender uses the Antimalware Service Executable or MsMpEng (MsMpEng.exe) process to execute its functions. However, a number of Windows users have noted that the Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng) sometimes shows high CPU usage.
Fix Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng)

In this article, you’ll learn how to fix the High CPU Usage By Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng). 

What causes High CPU Usage by Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng)

The MsMpEng.exe runs the Windows Antimalware Service Executable to enable Windows Defender to continuously monitor your PC for potential threats. When it runs, the Antimalware Service Executable also ensures that Windows Defender provides real-time protection against viruses, malware, and cyberattacks. 

However, there have been many user reports on Microsoft support forums that sometimes the MsMpEng.exe can also be the cause of disproportionately high CPU and Memory usage. The two common reasons for MsMpEng.exe to be consuming high CPU usage are: 

  • Protection in Realtime: The Windows Defender real-time feature is constantly scanning files and connections, etc. in realtime.
  • Full Scan: Windows Defender conducts a full scan of all files, either scheduled when the computer wakes up or when connected to a network. This can cause your system to experience frequent hanging, lagging, and delayed access/response because of high CPU usage. 

However, other possible causes of the Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng) using high CPU also include:

  • Low hardware resources;
  • Windows components/software conflicts;
  • Malware or virus infection;
  • Misconfigured or corrupt Windows system files;
  • Outdated Windows Defender definitions;
  • The self-scanning function of Windows Defender directory;

How to Fix High CPU Usage By MsMpEng.exe in Windows 10

Use the following solutions to fix high CPU usage by the Antimalware Service Executable:

Fix #1: Scan your Computer for Malware

There have been instances where malware or virus infection hijacked the MsMpEng.exe process. In this case, you need to scan your PC with a quality anti-malware application such as Malwarebytes and Trend Micro to identify and delete any malware that could be residing on your PC and causing such PC errors.

Fix #2: Change Windows Defender Scheduling settings

A number of Windows users who report high CPU usage by MsMpEng.exe say it occurs during a full system scan. To sort these issues out, you can reschedule the scan to occur when you’re not using your PC:

  1. Open Windows search and type Task Scheduler.
  2. On the Task Scheduler screen, navigate to the left pane and double-click Task Scheduler Library.
    Windows Task schduler
  3. Expand the folders as you navigate the following path:
    Library/Microsoft/Windows/Windows Defender.
    Windows Task Scheduler

  4. In the Windows Defender folder, locate Windows Defender Scheduled Scan in the middle pane and double click on it.
  5. On the new Window, go to the Conditions tab, and then click OK and uncheck all options. This will clear the scheduled scans on your PC.
    Windows Task Scheduler

  6. Now, reschedule the Windows Defender scans.
    Windows Task Scheduler

    1. Again double click the Windows Defender Scheduled Scan.
    2. Got to the Triggers tab and then click New.
    3. Next, create a new scan schedule - either weekly scans or monthly scans depending on what suits your needs and enable you to balance protection and system efficiency. 
    4. Now, choose the Day of the scan and click OK. Make sure the scan is enabled.
    5. Repeat the same process for the other three services: Windows Defender Cleanup, Windows Defender Cache Maintenance,  and Windows Defender Verification.

This process will re-schedule your PC’s Windows Defender to function as per your preference. Restart your PC and see if the Antimalware Service Executable is still using high CPU. 

FIX #3: Add Antimalware Service Executable to the Windows Defender’s exclusion list

When scanning your PC, Windows Defender checks all the files – including itself - which is a common cause of system lag. You exclude Windows defender from scanning itself by simply adding it to the exclusion list.

  1. Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc (or right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager).
  2. In the list of items, locate Antimalware Service Executable > right-click on it and select Open File Location.
    Windows Task Manager

  3. Copy the full path of Antimalware Service Executable on the address bar.
  4. Now, open the Windows Start menu and type “windows defender” then click the top result to launch Windows Defender Security Center.
  5. Next, click on Virus & threat protection > then on Virus & threat protection settings, click Manage settings.
  6. Now, scroll down to “Exclusions,” then click Add or remove exclusions
  7. Click Add an exclusion, select Folder option, then paste the Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng.exe) path you copied from the address bar. 
  8. Now, click Open.

This process will exclude the Antimalware Service Executable folder from the scan.

Fix #4: Disable Windows Defender

If the high CPU usage by MsMpEng problem persists, you may need to disable Windows Defender. Note that disabling the Windows defender may leave you vulnerable to many cyber-attacks if you dont have a third-party antivirus program.

To disable Windows Defender (through the registry editor):

  1. Press Wins Key + R to open Run Dialog Box.
  2. Type Regedit and click OK to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Check the left navigation pane, and double click the folders to navigate to the following path:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender.
  4. Locate a registry entry named DisableAntiSpyware > then double click it and set its value data to 1.
    1. If there is no registry entry named DisableAntiSpyware, go back to the main Registry Editor pane and right-click on it > select New > DWORD (32 bit) Value.
    2. Now, name the new registry entry DisableAntiSpyware > double click it and set its value data to 1.

Wrapping Up 

Windows Defender is an important tool, particularly because it comes free with your Windows operating system. However, it can put a drain on your system’s CPU. If you carefully follow the steps we’ve described in this article, you’ll take control of the Antimalware Service Executable on your PC and keep your computer running at full speed.

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