As a Windows user, you may have come across certain files and folders that belong to a user account named TrustedInstaller. Files under this user account often cannot be accessed or altered in any way and ownership has to be lifted from the account before they can be opened or changed. But what is TrustedInstaller, exactly? And why does it exist?
In this article we explain the nature of TrustedInsteller and what its purpose is in Windows operating systems. We’ll also discuss whether you should remove the account and the different issues that may be caused by it.
- What Is TrustedInstaller.exe and What Does It Do?
- Should You Delete TrustedInstaller?
- How to Change Ownership of TrustedInstaller
- Issues that Might Be Caused by the Process and How To Fix Them
- 1. Clear Problem History
- 2. Disable TrustInstaller Through Services Manager
- 3. Disable TrustInstaller Through System Configuration
- 4. Run a System File Checker Scan
- 5. Scan Your Machine Using Anti-Malware Solution
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is TrustedInstaller.exe and What Does It Do?
TrustedInstaller.exe is a legitimate Microsoft process that’s built into Windows operating systems from Vista onwards. It’s utilized by the Windows Modules Installer service, which is what handles installations, modifications, and the removal of all optional Windows components as well as important Windows updates. As such, it has sole access to modifying these files as it sees fit.
There are some files and folders that are under the ownership of a TrustedInstaller user account. A few examples of these are the program files and Windows folders, along with even the Windows.old folder that’s created when you upgrade from a previous version of the operating system that keeps your old files intact.
These folders contain delicate information that may be very important to the stability of Windows as a whole. While fiddling with their contents is ill-advised, you can take ownership of these folders and files and have them placed under your user account instead.
Should You Delete TrustedInstaller?
TrustedInstaller is a genuine Microsoft process that plays a vital role in ensuring that your Windows updates are downloaded and installed properly. TrustedInstaller.exe sometimes appears in malware lists on the Internet, but that’s not to say that the file itself is a kind of malware.
It is, however, prone to being hijacked by a specific kind of malware by the same name. If the file was hijacked by malware, hackers could gain access to your machine’s camera and microphone, which is a very scary thought. Make sure to always enlist the help of an effective anti-malware program to keep your OS protected.
Do note that it’s a crucial system file that should never be deleted, and doing so may lead to issues with system stability and Windows updates. What you can do instead is take ownership away from the TrustedInstaller user account.
How to Change Ownership of TrustedInstaller
While it’s certainly not recommended to delete the TrustedInstaller.exe file, it’s also not recommended to take away ownership from its user account. The reason is that files under that account are system files, and editing them can cause major problems for your operating system.
For example, the System32 folder in the Windows directory houses many files that are vital for the Windows OS to function properly. Normally, the TrustedInstaller user account would prevent you from renaming the folder, but if you take away ownership and force the edit, Windows will crash, and you’ll end up having to repair or restore the operating system.
If you still want to proceed with the ownership removal despite the risk, then follow the steps below:
- Navigate to the file or folder you want to take ownership of, then right-click it and select Properties. For the purposes of this guide, we are demonstrating with the “Program Files” folder.
- From the Properties page, head to the “Security” tab and select the “Advanced” button toward the bottom.
- Click the “Change” link next to TrustedInstaller near the top of the window.
- Type the word “Administrators” in the textbox and click the “Check Names” button.
- Windows will automatically add the rest of the string and will give ownership over the folder to all the administrators on your specific machine. Just hit the “OK” button to make it official.
- You’ll see that the owner is now changed to Administrators and that there’s a checkbox labeled “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” underneath. You can tick this box to apply the change of ownership to all the files inside the folder. Once you’re all set, click the “OK” button to get back to the “Properties” page.
- Select the Administrators option from the list and ensure that the “Full Control” checkbox is ticked. This gives all your administrator accounts permissions to the files. Click the “OK” button a couple of times, and you’re good to go.
Note: if you want to return ownership to TrustedInstaller, just follow the same steps until step 4 and type
NT Service\TrustedInstaller into the textbox instead. Clicking the “Check Names” button will turn the string into TrustedInstaller. Finish by clicking the “OK” button to save the changes.
Issues that Might Be Caused by the Process and How To Fix Them
Many users complain about TrustedInstaller taking up way too much CPU power. While this is quite normal for the process, there may be a problem if it’s taking up an abnormally large chunk of your processing power. If this is the case for you, you can either try to fix TrustedInstaller.exe or disable it completely.
There’s also a slight chance that the executable was taken over by malware. This could lead to a significant threat to your privacy and needs to be taken care of immediately. Here are a few ways you can fix these problems:
1. Clear Problem History
- Type “Problem reports” in your search bar and click on the “View all problem reports” result.
- Click the “Clear all problem reports button” near the bottom of the window.
- You’ll receive a pop-up window to confirm. Click the “Clear all” button to finalize the action.
2. Disable TrustInstaller Through Services Manager
To do this, disable the automatic updates. Here’s how you can achieve this:
- Press Win + R to bring up the Run dialog box.
- Type in
services.mscand hit Enter to launch the “Services Manager.”
- Scroll down near the end of the list of services and find the one labeled “Windows Update.”
- Right-click it and select “Properties.”
- Click the “Startup type” drop-down and select “Disabled.” Click the “OK” button to save your changes and confirm any pop-ups that may appear.
Note: aside from the services.msc, there are tons of other run commands in Windows that you should be familiar with. Make sure to look them up and check them out.
3. Disable TrustInstaller Through System Configuration
- Press Win + R to bring up the “Run” dialog box.
- Type in
msconfigand hit Enter to launch the “System configuration.”
- Navigate to the Services tab and look for the Windows Modules Installer service.
- Uncheck this service and click the “OK” button to save the changes.
4. Run a System File Checker Scan
The System File Checker (SFC) is a built-in Windows tool that can scan your entire operating system to see if there are corrupted system files that it can repair back to a working state. This tool may be able to detect problems with TrustedInstaller and fix them.
- Press Win + R to bring up the Run dialog box.
- Type in
cmd, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open it with administrator privileges. Click “OK” when asked to confirm.
sfc /scannowinto the command prompt and press Enter.
- Wait for the SFC to complete the scan and automatically repair any corrupted files. This may take a while.
- Once the operation is complete, restart your machine.
Note: SFC can do a lot of good if your OS is riddled with missing or corrupted system files, so it’s worth learning everything about the SFC Scannow command.
5. Scan Your Machine Using Anti-Malware Solution
There’s a nasty type of malware that gets ahold of the TrustedInstaller.exe in your OS and replaces it with its own file of the same name. As a result, you could end up with a major invasion of privacy, such as your camera and mic getting hijacked.
Microsoft’s Windows Defender program is capable of performing a malware scan, but we highly recommend you go with a top-tier third-party anti-malware solution instead, as they are much more effective. One of the most popular ones on the market is Malwarebytes: a powerful yet lightweight app that comes with a free 14-day trial.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where is TrustedInstaller.exe located?
The executable file for TrustedInstaller can be found in the following directory:
“C:\” in this case refers to the drive where your Windows operating system is installed.
2. Why does TrustedInstaller use so much CPU power?
When scanning for updates, TrustedInstaller works in tandem with the integrated Windows Update service to accomplish the search. It even continues searching for updates after one has recently been downloaded and installed, which is why you will often see this process hogging a lot of your CPU power. Usually you can just wait for awhile until the process finishes scanning and your CPU usage returns to normal.
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