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Why do I see multiple svchost.exe processes running?

You might notice multiple instances of Service Host running in your list of processes, and that's perfectly fine. It usually corresponds to a system service.

If you look at the list of processes running on a Windows desktop, you will likely see multiple svchost.ext processes.

This happens because the Task Manager lists processes that correspond to a system service as svchost. These system services cannot run on their own so they piggyback on the svchost.ext file to run.

A system service is a type of code that runs in addition to applications on a Windows system. They usually run with some level of special privileges that give the service low-level access to the system.

The operating system uses numerous system services that are exposed through the Service Control Manager.

Some applications also use services. For instance, Microsoft server applications, such as Virtual Machine Manager or Exchange Server, have their own dedicated set of services.

It’s common for the Task Manager to list multiple instances of svchost.ext. Sometimes an instance will correspond to a specific system service. In other cases, a group of system services will collectively use a single svchost instance.

In Windows 8.1, you can expand the Name column in the Task Manager’s list of processes, and Windows will tell you what service (or group of services) each instance of the service host corresponds to. In most cases, service hosts on desktop computers correspond to operating system services.

Next Steps

Prevent svchost.exe from hogging too much memory

Don’t let extra running processes slow performance

This was last published in April 2015

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