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What’s csrss.exe (Client Server Runtime Process)? Is it safe or a virus?

So... you're looking at your Windows Task Manager and you see this strange-sounding csrss.exe process running. Kind of a suspicious sounding name, isn't it? But, this Microsoft signed executable is not suspicious at all, actually.

In fact, our team here at SpyShelter's Cybersecurity Labs in Austin, Texas found this Windows csrss.exe process is critical if you want your PC to work properly. So, what exactly does this process do for your PC?

The csrss.exe (Client/Server Runtime Subsystem) process in Windows is responsible for managing the graphical instruction set under a session. This includes the responsibility for handling console windows, and creating or deleting threads. A thread allows an executable to do multiple tasks at once.

Csrss.exe is also involved in powering your user-mode portion of the windowing and graphics systems, like the management of the graphical user interface and the terminal services.

The Windows Client/Server Runtime Subsystem does quite a lot of critical things for your PC, so please leave it running to avoid problems. Just double check that it's actually signed by Microsoft, and then you should be safe. You can confirm it's signed by Microsoft by checking the .exe properties in Windows, or use our popular SpyShelter Antispyware app.

(Researched by Jon @ SpyShelter Labs)

Executable Processes List

More about csrss.exe on WINDOWS

Who makes csrss.exe (Client Server Runtime Process)?

We’ve found Microsoft Windows Publisher should be the publisher of csrss.exe.

How do we know? Our SpyShelter cybersecurity labs focuses on monitoring different types of Windows PC executables and their behaviors for our popular SpyShelter Antispyware software. Learn more about us, and how our cybersecurity team studies Windows PC executables/processes.

What does it mean if someone is the publisher of a PC .exe (executable or process)?

The publisher of an executable is the entity responsible for its distribution and authenticity. Most processes/executables on your PC should be signed. The signature on the executable should have been verified through a third party whose job it is to make sure the entity is who it says it is. Find an unsigned executable? You should consider scanning any completely unsigned .exe on your PC.

Is csrss.exe safe or a virus?

Below are 4 simple steps you can take to see if the csrss.exe process is safe or malware.

  1. Scan the executable with Microsoft's built-in tech
  2. Find csrss.exe's publisher
  3. Search the executable's hash with VirusTotal
  4. Monitor the executable's behavior
Last updated: February 1, 2024

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Why should you trust us?

Our team at SpyShelter has been studying Windows PC executables for over 15 years, to help fight against spyware, malware, and other threats. SpyShelter has been featured in publications like The Register, PC Magazine, and many others. Now we’re working to share free, actionable, and easy to understand information about Windows executables (processes) with the world, to help as many people as possible keep their devices safe. Learn more about us on our "About SpyShelter” page.

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