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What Is csrss.exe? What Is Client-Server Runtime Process?

If you have taken the time to look at your Windows Task Master, you may come across a file called csrss.exe.

While your first impulse may be to assume this is a virus or other form of malware, don’t panic. The file is an essential part of your Windows operating system (OS).

What is csrss.exe?

What is csrss.exe?

CSRSS stands for Client-Server Runtime Process. It’s a crucial part of your entire Windows system. In fact, in the early editions of Windows, this file was responsible for all graphical elements in your OS.

While many of those operations have been shifted to the Windows kernel (the central part of your computer’s OS), csrss.exe remains an important file.

What does it do?

Though it doesn’t do quite as much heavy lifting as in previous editions, csrss.exe is still responsible for the windows you open.

Before Windows 7, csrss.exe actually drew the windows (opened and maintained them). Since then, it has become responsible for launching another file, conhost.exe. It now draws your windows. It's also responsible for the shutdown process.

Can you remove it?

You cannot remove csrss.exe. It’s impossible to close it from the Task Manager for obvious reasons.

Without this file, Windows couldn’t run properly. If the file was somehow deleted or otherwise shut down, your computer would be unable to boot again.

When you should worry

It’s important to note that seeing the file itself isn’t a concern at all. There have been several scams that have used this as a way to raise concerns for some users.

What is csrss.exe?

However, there are some signs that you should worry about. These signs indicate that you need to look for a more serious problem with your computer.

It may be normal to see more than one csrss.exe file in your Task Manager, especially if you look under Show Processes from All Users (and you have multiple users).

To be sure these are all legitimate files, right-click on the process and click Open file directory.

That should send you to a folder titled C:\Windows\System32. If it takes you anywhere else, you may have malware that's disguising itself using the title 'csrss.exe.'

Alternatively, watch for the file using a significant amount of CPU power or Memory. A genuine file should use very little of either.

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