Windows 10 runs several applications in the background, and they are crucial for your PC to function properly. Trying to force-stop any of these processes may lead to system instability and breakdown.

Usually, these processes and files hardly pique your interest unless they affect your system’s performance. A typical example is the SMSS.exe file. Some users have associated SMSS.exe with unreasonably high GPU and CPU usage, which causes their system performance to drop.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the nitty-gritty of SMSS.exe. Also, you will learn about its functions and how it can affect your system performance.

What Is SMSS.exe on Windows 10?

SMSS.exe is an executable file that runs the Windows Session Manager (or Session Manager Subsystem). It is an essential component of your Windows OS that auto-starts with your PC.

What Does SMSS.exe Do?

SMSS.exe’s role is to monitor your operating system’s essential processes and ensure that they function well. One other chief function of smss.exe is in Windows 10 initialization. Basically, it controls winlogon.exe, an essential component that handles the secure attention sequence. Winlogon also loads your user profile on login and can lock your PC while a screen saver is running. Simply put, SMSS.exe is responsible for creating user sessions on your Windows PC. So, it 8is an essential component of your operating system’s startup process.

Microsoft introduced smss.exe in their Windows NT, where its role is limited to handling only the startup process. However, in Windows 10, SMSS.exe came with more advanced features, such as starting winlogon.exe, creating virtual memory, environment control, and so on.

Without SMSS.exe, your PC will not be able to handle multiple tasks at a time. It creates virtual memory for each process execution, making your system run several processes simultaneously and effectively.

Is SMSS.exe a Virus?

SMSS has an exe file extension that often misleads people to think it is malware, but that’s not the case. In reality, it is a built-in Microsoft program that consumes little space of your system memory and aids the startup process. However, if you suspect SMSS.exe is consuming a considerably large amount of your system resources, then malware might be camouflaging as SMSS.exe. That’s the only explanation for this system process slowing down your PC.

Sometimes, hackers and cybercriminals name malware after system files and processes to avoid detection by your computer’s security system or antivirus program. A quick way to verify the legitimacy of your SMSS.exe file is by checking its location on your local disk. That’ll also help verify its digital signature.

How to Check SMSS.exe’s Location and Verify Its Digital Signature

The following steps would help you confirm the identity of the problematic smss.exe file on your PC:

  1. Use the Windows shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open your Task Manager.
  2. Navigate to the Details tab, right-click on SMSS.exe, and then select Properties.
  3. Alternatively, navigate to the Processes tab, right-click on the Windows Session Manager, and click on Properties.
  4. Check the location under the General tab and ensure it corresponds with any of the locations below:


C:\Windows\System32\Event Agent\Bin


Then, navigate to the Digital Signature tab, and check the Signature list to confirm if the signer’s name is Microsoft Windows Publisher.

If the file location is entirely different, it indicates the presence of malware camouflaging as SMSS.exe. In that case, it’s best to take prompt action to rid your computer of such a virus and protect it from further damage.

How to Fix and Replace the Corrupt SMSS.exe

A corrupt or damaged Windows Session Manager (smss.exe) file could make your system malfunction, crash during usage, or cause some random errors. So, if a virus has infected your SMSS.exe file, or you deleted it by mistake, you can replace or fix it with the following tools and techniques:

1.    Fix SMSS.exe with the Windows System File Checker (SFC)

The System File Checker (SFC) is a built-in Windows feature that repairs or replaces corrupted or damaged files. It scans your PC for damaged or corrupted files and attempts to fix them.

For optimum results, Microsoft recommends using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool before using the System File Checker.

Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Press the Windows logo key + X simultaneously to open the Power User menu.
  2. Click on Command Prompt (Admin) option to open the elevated Command Prompt.
  3. Then, type or copy-paste the following command in the console and hit the Enter key:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image/Restorehealth

Note: This command will launch and prompt the DISM tool to provide all the necessary files needed to replace or fix corrupt system files.

Afterward, type or copy-paste the following command to run an SFC scan:

Sfc /scannow

The utility will scan your system files and replace any damaged or corrupt files. Also, the process takes several minutes to complete. So, do not close the elevated Command Prompt window until the scan finishes.

2.    Run the Check Disk Utility

The presence of a bad sector on your system’s hard drive could corrupt or damage your system files. Fortunately, Windows Check Disk Utility can scan your system’s hard drive for faulty or bad sectors and fix them automatically.

If SFC and DISM tools failed to resolve the issue, then you should try out this fix.

Here’s how to use this fix:

  1. Press the Windows logo key + X simultaneously to open the Power User menu.
  2. Click on Command Prompt (Admin) option to open the elevated Command Prompt.
  3. Then, type or copy-paste the following command in the console and hit the Enter key:

Chkdsk C: /f /r

Afterward, use the Windows shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open your Task Manager. Now, check to see if SMSS.exe still consumes a large portion of your system resources. If it doesn’t, it shows this fix worked. However, if this solution fails, try the next method.

3.    Reinstall Your Windows 10 OS

Unless all other fixes fail, you shouldn’t consider this fix. Usually, many technicians consider this solution as a last resort. This is because clean reinstallation of your Windows 10 OS will lead to a loss of all third-party apps.

To use this fix, you’d have to download the installation package and follow the on-screen instructions. If you’re not tech-savvy, it’s best to consult a technician.

Can You Disable SMSS.exe?

As earlier mentioned, SMSS.exe is a Windows 10 built-in file. It’s also an essential component of your system startup process that ensures the stability of your PC.

If you attempt to force-stop, delete, or disable the program, it may lead to system instability or crashes. If you close or disable it while Windows is running, your system might freeze, requiring a hard reboot. If you delete this file, your Windows PC will not start.

However, bear in mind that hard rebooting your system might lead to the loss of unsaved tasks. We recommend that you shouldn’t tamper with it.

How to Reduce SMSS.exe’s CPU Usage

As discussed above, SMSS.exe high CPU usage often results from the activities of a virus. If you want to reduce or prevent the file from using a large portion of your system resources, then you need to run an anti-virus scan.

The SMSS.exe malware can enter your PC by various means. That’s why we highly recommend using Auslogics Anti-Malware to secure your system from all threats. It can also scan, detect and rid your system of all malicious contents.

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Protect PC from Threats with Anti-Malware

Check your PC for malware your antivirus may miss and get threats safely removed with Auslogics Anti-Malware

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Auslogics Anti-Malware is a product of Auslogics, certified Microsoft® Silver Application Developer

Besides, it doesn’t interfere with your system’s Windows Defender and other applications. No malware camouflage can escape its powerful detection system.


Memory-intensive apps and processes running in the background can slow down your system, make your work slow and time-consuming. Fortunately, you can use Auslogics BoostSpeed to improve your system’s performance.

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Resolve PC Issues with Auslogics BoostSpeed

Besides cleaning and optimizing your PC, BoostSpeed protects privacy, diagnoses hardware issues, offers tips for boosting speed and provides 20+ tools to cover most PC maintenance and service needs.

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Auslogics BoostSpeed is a product of Auslogics, certified Microsoft® Silver Application Developer

You can also use its optimization tool to clean out junk, disable startup programs, clean your registry, and remove unnecessary applications that may slow down your PC.

We are confident you’d be able to resolve your smss.exe high CPU usage issues with this guide.

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