Multiple csrss.exe processes running

Hi All,

How many csrss.exe processes should be running on a Vista Home System; I have two running on each system.




csrss.exe is a legitimate Windows file and MUST be allowed to run (in fact, you'll find you can't close it with Task Manager).  It is located in C:\Windows\System32.  I don't know if more than one instance can run at a time but I think it is possible if multiple users are logged in (for example).  There may be other reasons but I couldn't find any (but they could exist and I just didn't find them). I have only one user logged onto my system and only one instance of the process.  It's also possible that one of those two instances is malware.

There is also malware by the same name but almost always located elsewhere.  You should run a complete system search for csrss.exe.  Here's how to do it in Vista.  To search the entire C: drive in Vista go to Start / Search Box and type in ‘<filename> or <foldername>’.  As you're typing you'll see two hyperlinks appear just above where you're typing and one will say Search Everywhere.  Click on that.  That will do a quick indexed search and bring up a dialog box.  Click on Advanced Search.  Click on the location drop down menu and find Drive C: and click on it. Check the box "include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (may be slow)."  Then click on Search.  You will now be searching your entire hard drive for the specified file.  And yes, it's not a very efficient way of searching the entire drive for a file but that's how it's done in Vista.

Here's an article on how to try to differentiate between the real system file and malware:

Here's an article with some important information on csrss.exe, what it is, and how to deal with potential problems:

Since you may be infected by malware, here are some suggestions that should help.  Try to run anti-malware programs (in safe mode with networking if necessary). To fix this problem (if it is a problem) download, install, and run the following two programs: and  You may also want to try a free trial of Pandasoft (  Before downloading pandasoft, uninstall whatever anti-virus program you are currently using (because installing and running two at the same time can cause conflicts, freezes, and all sorts of problems).  Once you've uninstalled your current AV program, download, install, update, and scan using Pandasoft.  I think you might be amazed at how much it finds that the other software missed.  Once complete, uninstall pandasoft and re-install your current AV program (unless you decide to switch which I did when I first tried it about 4 years ago).  You may also want to try the new, free Microsoft Security Essentials (with the same caveat that only ONE AV program can be installed and running on your system at any one time).  You may also want to try the free Avira at: and Avast at:  Reboot after completing all the scans.  You may also want to try the free OneCare at and let it run all the options (except the registry cleaner) because that’s good maintenance (it will take some time to complete but can be done in the background).

I hope this helps.

Good luck!

Lorien - MCSE/MCSA/Network+/A+ --- If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.

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Last updated June 11, 2021 Views 43,623 Applies to: