How to Fix Wmpnetwk.exe High CPU and Memory Usage in Windows

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Wmpnetwk.exe is an application file of Windows Media Player that’s used when you share Windows media libraries with other networked media players. Left unchecked, Wmpnetwk.exe and its related application, Wmpnscfg.exe, can rapidly shoot up memory usage and consume 100% of CPU. In this tutorial, we discuss the role of Wmpnetwk.exe in Windows and some of the ways to solve the high memory problem when it bursts out of control.

What Is Wmpnetwk.exe in Task Manager?

Wmpnetwk.exe’s main purpose is to share Windows Media Player libraries with other networked players and media devices using Universal Plug and Play. If you aren’t using your Windows PC to stream with other players, it’s best to stop the WMPNetworkSvc from the Task Manager Services tab. You can restart it later if you want.

Wmpnetwk.exe will always show in the Task Manager under the Services tab as WMPNetworkSvc, which stands for “Windows Media Player Networking Service”. Under the same name, it can also be found under the Processes tab. Whether or not you’re running Windows Media Player, the application’s overall impact on CPU, memory, disk, and power usage should be very minimal.

Wmpnetwk Exe Task Manager Stop Service

Causes for Wmpnetwk.exe High CPU Usage

The following are the main reasons you may be facing this issue on a Windows device.

  • Latest Windows versions make WMPNetworkSvc run automatically: The problem has been around since the Windows 7 era. In the past, Windows disabled WMPNetworkSvc from automatically running. However, in the latest versions of Windows, you may find it enabled automatically. Most choose to ignore this even though the process silently consumes a lot of memory in the background.
  • The process is never ending: even if you stop the WMPNetworkSvc process from the Task Manager, it has a tendency to restart itself continuously. Sometimes the process springs back even after you’ve disabled it.
  • Media library indexing accumulation over time: if you have enabled media streaming once and forgot to switch it off, the Windows Media Player will start indexing your media library with newer video and audio files. Even when you use other media players like VLC or Groove, the Wmpnetwk.exe process keeps consuming resources in the background.
  • Duplicate and conflicting files: sometimes you have other programs and applications similarly named as Wmpnetwke.exe or Wmpnscfg.exe. This can cause a conflict with the original Windows Media Player file. A system cleanup works best in these cases.
  • Dependent services: some services depend on other services, system drivers or load order groups. For Wmpnetwk.exe, the dependent services include MsQuic and Windows Search. You may find the application has restarted if you use them.
  • Malware named after Wmpnetwk.exe: malware authors can name their spyware and viruses anything, and Wmpnetwk.exe is a common target. However, the Windows Defender-based security has a built-in mechanism to reject these vectors.

Solutions for Wmpnetwk.exe High CPU Usage

While the Wmpnetwk.exe and Wmpnscfg.exe application files cannot be removed entirely from your PC, their impact can be minimized. From terminating the executable files to turning off media streaming and uninstalling Windows Media Player, one of these methods is going to ease the problems of high memory spikes.

1. Disable Wmpnetwk.exe Service

Wmpnetwk.exe is not an essential service and disabling it won’t affect the operation of the system. It’s recommended to prevent the application from running automatically.

  1. Press Win + R to launch the Run command and type services.msc to launch your local Windows Services.
Wmpnetwk Exe Win R Services
  1. Scroll down to within the standard applications list to spot “Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service.”
  1. Click the item once to open a Properties window. “Startup type” will be under the General tab. If it’s running automatically, you need to switch it off by changing it to “Manual” or “Disabled”.
Wmpnetwk Exe Startup Type Automatic
  1. Click OK to confirm.
Wmpnetwk Exe Services Wmpnetworkservice

2. Use System File Checker and DISM to Repair Corrupt Files

If there are corrupt or duplicate Wmpnetwk.exe files in the system folders, you can get rid of them through command-line utilities, such as System File Checker and DISM.exe. To perform these actions, you need an elevated Command Prompt access.

  1. Launch the Command Prompt from the Windows search menu as an administrator.
Wmpnetwk Exe Command Prompt Admin Mode
  1. Type the command sfc /scannow. This is one of the easiest ways to protect the integrity of your system. It repairs corrupted files through multiple stages of scanning. Once it has finished repairing, it may leave behind a CBS.log text file under the Logs subfolder of Windows. You can check it to determine whether there are any Wmpnetwk.exe issues that were repaired.
Wmpnetwk Exe File Command Prompt Sfc Scan

Alternatively, you can run the dsim command to repair all Windows components that have become resource hogs due to the lack of updates, faulty installations, duplicate files, or missing drivers.

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
Wmpnetwk Exe Command Prompt Dism Command

3. Turn Windows Features Off for Windows Media Player

From the Control Panel, you can turn Windows features Off or On for all Microsoft apps. We will use this method to partially switch Windows Media Player off so that it gets a fresh restart to help resolve the Wmpnetwk.exe high memory issue.

  1. Go to Control Panel and navigate to the section of “Programs and Features.”
Wmpnetwk Exe Control Panel Programs Turn On Off
  1. Click the sub-menu item called “Turn Windows Features On or Off,” which will open a new dialog box. Alternatively, you can also access this item directly from the Windows search menu.
Wmpnetwk Exe Windows Features Wmp Turned Off
  1. Under “Media Features,” you will see the option for “Windows Media Player” checked as a default setting, as it’s one of the necessary Microsoft apps.
  2. Uncheck the “Windows Media Player Option,” which will terminate the program.
  3. The above may also require you to confirm the action once through a warning message window. It’s safe to ignore the warning. Click “Yes” to finalize.
Wmpnetwk Exe Windows Features Wmp Warning

4. Turn Off Media Streaming

Even if you don’t use Windows Media Player, you may have a “media streaming” option enabled in the app. This is a network sharing feature that can be safely disabled to reduce Wmpnetwk.exe’s overall footprint.

  1. Open Windows Media Player. Go to “Stream -> More Streaming options.”
Wmpnetwk Exe Wmp More Streaming Options Click
  1. You will see a list of media streaming options that may only consist of the default media player used on your computer. Click “Block All” to block all these applications at the same time.
Wmpnetwk Exe Wmp Media Streaming Blocked All
  1. If you want to re-enable media streaming, click “Stream -> Turn on media streaming.”
Wmpnetwk Exe Wmp Turn Media Streaming On 1

It is, always best to keep the media streaming option turned off on your computer if you’re not using the service. After you do that, It will go back to showing “Media streaming is not turned on” in your media streaming options.

5. Check Windows Media Player Folder for Older File Versions

If you have any older Wmpnetwk.exe or Wmpnscfg.exe file versions lurking around in the Windows Media Player folder, it can cause conflicts and high memory spikes due to the Windows Media Player service. Here’s how to resolve this.

  1. The Windows Media Player folder can be located easily from Program Files or Program Files (x86) folder in your system. Find a file called “Wmpnetwk.exe”.
  2. Look for duplicate instances of the file. Keep “View” on for “Hidden files and folders.”
Wmpnetwk Exe Locating Wmpnetwk File
  1. Right click on the file and select “Properties”. Under “Previous Versions,” it should show “There are no previous versions available.”
  2. If it does not show that message, there are other duplicates in your system that you can remove using System File Checker and DISM commands. (See previous steps in this section.)
Wmpnetwk Exe File Wmpnetwk No Previous Versions

6. Disable Media Streaming through Registry Hack

This is a simple registry hack to permanently disable the WMPNetworkSvc process.

  1. From the Windows Search menu, open the Registry Editor app and run it as administrator.
Wmpnetwk Exe Registry Editor Run Admin
  1. Navigate to the following path:
  1. In the HME folder, you should see a “DisableDiscovery” key. If it is not present, right click and create a new “DWORD (32-bit Value)” key and call it “DisableDiscovery”.
Wmpnetwk Exe Registry Editor Hme New Dword
  1. Right-click the entry again to modify it and set its hexadecimal value to “1” instead of the default “0.” Click OK to close this entry and exit the Registry Editor. Your new configuration to disable “Media Streaming” has been enabled.
Wmpnetwk Exe Registry Editor Hme Dword Value 1

7. Virus Scanning

It’s always very important to check your overall system for potential malware. This will keep any virus or spyware variants of Wmpnetwk.exe at bay.

  1. Launch “Virus & threat protection” system settings from the Windows search menu. You can also go to this option from Windows Security.
Wmpnetwk Exe Virus Scanning Main Search
  1. There will be a number of scan options including “Quick,” “Full,” “Custom,” and “Offline” scans. Choose the “Full” scan option.
  2. Leave the PC for a few hours for the scan to run, quarantine and remove any malware.
Wmpnetwk Exe Virus Scanning Full Scan

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Wmpnetwk.exe malware or a genuine Windows application?

To tell the difference between genuine Windows applications and any malware, use a couple of simple tests. Firstly, download a program called CrowdInspect to identify multiple instances of the malware. For each instance, check the file’s properties. If the file is from Microsoft Corporation as part of Microsoft Windows Operating System, then it’s genuine.

Wmpnetwk Exe Properties Details

You can also open Advanced Security Settings for any application file from its Properties. If it shows TrustedInstaller or Microsoft as the owner, we can be sure there is no malware, as it’s impossible to fake these digital signatures.

Wmpnetwk Exe Properties Advanced Security

2. How do I completely uninstall and reinstall Windows Media Player?

You can disable Windows Media Player and turn its features off. But you will not be able to completely uninstall it from your PC. While it appears tempting to uninstall Windows Media Player, there is no easy way around it. The application does not show up in the list of apps, and even if it does, it cannot be uninstalled from there.

3. What other causes could be behind my CPU usage being so high?

In a Windows device, high memory usage is a frequent problem that may affect your PC due to resource-intensive applications. There are many factors that contribute to this problem: from third-party antivirus software to enabling Superfetch in Windows search.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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