Understand the Windows Process svchost.exe - dummies

Understand the Windows Process svchost.exe

By Dan Gookin

A process in Windows named svchost.exe is often a source of anxiety and woe among PC troubleshooters. That’s probably because the single process svchost.exe is responsible for running a plethora of services in Windows.

The svchost.exe process can run multiple copies (or instances) of itself in Windows. Therefore, you may find several svchost.exe entries listed on the Task Manager’s Process tab. (You have to show processes from all users in order to see the svchost.exe processes.)

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you can home in on which services an instance of svchost.exe is controlling by right-clicking a svchost.exe entry and choosing the Go to Service(s) command from the pop-up menu.

To review the full horde of services run by svchost.exe, you can follow these nerdy command prompt steps:

  1. Start a command prompt window.

    From the Start button menu, choose All Programs→Accessories→Command Prompt.

  2. Type the following command:

    tasklist /svc /fi “imagename eq svchost.exe”
  3. Double-check your typing.

  4. Press the Enter key.

    Quickly, text spurts onto the command prompt window. The details show which services are being run by the various instances of svchost.exe.


    You can scroll back through the command prompt window to review the list or simply resize the window vertically.

  5. Type the exit command to close the command prompt window.

The information displayed at the command prompt window is just a quick summary, but it’s not the big issue with svchost.exe. No, the big issue is that many of the Bad Guys out there like to name their bad software svchost.exe just to confuse and anger you.