What Is svchost.exe, and Should You Stop the Process?

If you use a Windows-based system, you may have opened your task manager to see a swarm of processes called “svchost” taking up a lot of room. It can be worrying to see so many copies of this process working away silently as you use your computer. What is this odd process, and should you try to prune them down to size yourself?

The short answer to this is a definite, strong “no!” Do not force any svchost process to stop! They’re very vital for Windows to do its job properly. In order to understand why they’re so important, however, we need to break down what exactly svchost.exe does.

What Is svchost.exe?

Things make a little more sense when we break down what “svchost”means. It means “service host,” and it does exactly that – hosts Windows services. When Windows wants to run a service, it uses svchost to do so.

When you see multiple svchost.exes running at the same time, this is simply Windows running different services at once. There’s a lot going on within Windows, so it needs all those processes to keep itself running!

Why Not Just One Process?

Having all these different processes can look untidy. Why doesn’t Windows just bundle all their processes under one svchost and call it a day?

The reason behind this decision is to prevent a crash from bringing all the services down. If you were running a factory, and you had the decision to put a human worker on each task or a central AI robot that handles every task, the humans are more reliable.


The AI may be able to take on all the tasks at once, but if it breaks down, it takes out every job in the factory with it. If a single human worker is injured or ill, the other areas of the factory can still run as normal.

The same idea is with svchost. If Windows packed all its services into one svchost process, the entire collection of services would collapse should a single one trip up. Windows has a lot of services going on at once, so this would be catastrophic! By having a separate process for each service, it protects the others from being disrupted should one fail.

What Processes Are Being Run?

If you’d like to take a look for yourself what processes run under svchost, you can do this by holding down Ctrl + Shift + ESC. Make sure you’re looking at the Advanced view by clicking “more details” at the bottom, if it’s there. Make sure you’re  looking at the Processes tab. Then, sort the processes by name and scroll down to “Windows processes.” You’ll then see all the processes called “Service Host” and what they’re all doing.


When Svchost Goes Bad

Unfortunately, svchost isn’t always as innocent as it first seems. Due to its importance to the Windows operating system, some virus developers aim to mimic svchost to disguise their programs as something you shouldn’t touch. Others may infect svchost to bury their processes within system-critical ones, so you can’t simply nuke the process.


In this instance it’s best to get a good antimalware program to do a full scan of your computer. This will hopefully find the problem and clean it up for you. Don’t try to manually “snipe” the malware yourself – this could cause a lot of problems!

The Host with the Most

Svchost has a tendency to swarm your task manager, and it can be worrying to see so many instances working away on your PC. It’s important that you let them do their job and run a good antivirus to protect them from being infected by malware.

Are you intimidated by the amount of service hosts appearing in task manager? Do you think Microsoft could do a better job explaining what they are? Let us know below.

Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.