Dwm.exe Windows 10 issues [High CPU, Crash, Virus]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • DWM.exe stands for Desktop Window Manager and is a core process that is tightly connected to the explorer process.
  • Malware, temporary explorer bug, bad driver, bug in 3rd party software or even a nefarious mdi264.dll are known causes. Read the article to see fixed for each of them.
  • We use Windows explorer daily without even realising. It can either cause an issue with dwm.exe or vice-versa. Either way, it needs a fix.
  • These types of issues are less common. Other occur daily. Either way, we got you covered in this great Windows 10 errors hub.
Fix Dwm.exe Windows 10 issues
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Dwm.exe stands for a core Windows 10 process called Desktop Window Manager. Even though this is an important process, many users reported issues with dwm.exe on Windows 10, and today we’re going to show you how to fix them.

How can I fix DWM.exe issues in Windows 10?

Solution 1 – Check your computer for malware

If dwm.exe is using too much CPU power or memory, it might be due to a computer virus.

Users reported that after scanning their computer with Malwarebytes and removing all the suspicious files the problems with dwm.exe were fixed, so be sure to try that.

We already covered some of the best antivirus programs for Windows 10 in our previous articles, so be sure to check them out.

Perform a full system scan directly from Windows Defender. Find out how it’s done right here!

Solution 2 – Restart explorer.exe

Users reported that dwm.exe can sometimes use too much of your RAM, but there’s a simple workaround that you can use. Users claim that you can temporarily fix this problem by restarting the explorer.exe process or by restarting your computer.

To restart explorer.exe do the following:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start Task Manager.
  2. When Task Manager starts to go to the Details tab.
  3. Locate explorer.exe, right-click it and choose End Task.
  4. Now go to File > Run a new task.
  5. Enter explorer and click OK.

You can also fix this problem by logging out and logging back in to Windows 10. Bear in mind that this is just a workaround and you might have to repeat it every time this issue occurs.

Can’t open Task Manager? Don’t worry, we’ve got the right solution for you.

Windows won’t end a task in Task Manager? Count on us to solve the problem.

Solution 3 – Remove third-party antivirus programs

Antivirus software can cause problems with dwm.exe to occur, and if you have any problems with this process we advise that you remove all third-party antivirus programs from your PC.

Users reported that both Avast and AVG caused issues with this process, so be sure to remove those tools from your PC.

We have to mention that almost any antivirus program can cause problems with dwm.exe, therefore be sure to remove all third-party antivirus programs from your PC.

For the Norton users, we’ve got a dedicated guide on how to completely remove it from your PC. There’s a similar guide for McAffe users, as well.

If you’re using any antivirus solution and you want to completely remove it from your PC, be sure to check out this amazing list with the best uninstaller software you can use right now.

Even if you remove all third-party antivirus programs your PC will still be protected by Windows Defender.

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Solution 4 – Disable problematic services

Certain services can cause problems with dwm.exe on Windows 10 and the only solution is to find and disable those services. To do that follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. Once the Services window opens you need to disable Skype Updater, Google Update (gupdate) and Google Update (gupdatem) services. To do that, simply find the service that you want to disable and double click it.
  3. When the properties window opens change Startup type to Disabled and click Apply and OK to save changes.
  4. Be sure to disable all services mentioned in Step 2.

We have to mention that different services can cause problems on your PC, so you might have to disable different third-party services in order to fix this problem.

Most users don’t know what to do when the Windows key stops working. Check out this guide and be a step ahead.

Solution 5 – Check your USB devices

Few users reported that dwm.exe crashed on their PC and gave them the BSoD error. After a lot of research users concluded that the problem was caused by wired Xbox controller and after replacing the controller the issue was fixed.

Even if you don’t have an Xbox controller connected to your PC, you can try to remove or replace the USB devices and check if that fixes the problem.

Solution 6 – Delete the mdi264.dll

Users reported that un unknown file named mdi264.dll caused dwm.exe to crash. To fix this issue users are advising to delete the problematic file from Command Prompt. To do that follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button, press and hold the Shift key and click the Restart button.
  2. When your computer restarts choose to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Prompt.
  3. When Command Prompt opens you need to enter the following:
    • cd  C:UsersYour Name HereAppDataLocalTemp
    • del mdi264.dll
  4. After deleting the file close Command Prompt and restart your PC.

If you’re having trouble accessing Command Prompt as an admin, then you better take a closer look at this guide.

Solution 7 – Disable Chrome Pepper Flash extension

In some rare cases, Chrome extensions can cause issues with dwm.exe on Windows 10. According to users, you can fix this problem by disabling the Chrome Pepper Flash extension. To do that follow these steps:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. In address bar enter chrome://plugins and press Enter.
  3. List of active plugins will appear. Locate Chrome Pepper Flash and click Disable.

Solution 8 – Install older graphics card drivers

Users reported that latest Nvidia drivers can cause dwm.exe to crash, and in order to fix this problem users are suggesting to revert to the older version of Nvidia drivers. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Power User Menu. Select Device Manager from the list.
  2. When Device Manager opens locate your graphic card driver and double click it.
  3. Go to the Driver tab and click the Roll Back Driver button.
  4. Wait for the process to complete.

Few users reported that even integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics can cause this problem to appear, therefore be sure to roll back its drivers to the previous version as well.

If the rollback was successful, you’ll have to prevent Windows from automatically updating it in the future. To do that, follow this step-by-step guide.

Update drivers automatically with TweakBit Driver Updater

If installing the an older driver didn’t get the job done, you might as well try with the latest one. If you don’t want to do it yourself, we strongly suggest to do it automatically by using Tweakbit’s Driver Updater tool.

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This tool is approved by Microsoft and Norton Antivirus. After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best-automatized solution. Below you can find a quick guide on how to do it:

    1. Download and install TweakBit Driver Updater.driver updater start window
    2. Once installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
    3. driver update dignozingUpon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.

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Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.

Did you know that the majority of Windows 10 users have outdated drivers? Be a step ahead using this guide.

Solution 9 – Adjust Performance settings

It’s possible that your current performance settings affect the DWM. If that’s indeed the case, you’ll probably want to change these settings.

The practice has shown us that the best setting, in this case, is Adjust for best performance. So, we’re going to change it. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Search, type performance, and open Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  2. In the Visual Effects tab, check to Adjust for best performance.
  3. Save the changes and restart your computer.

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Solution 10 – Run the SFC scan

If none of the solutions from above managed to resolve the problem, we’re going to turn to a few troubleshooting options available in Windows. The first troubleshooter we’re going to try is the SFC scan.

Here’s how to run the SFC scan in Windows 10:

  1. Go to Search, type cmd, and open Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter: sfc/scannow
  3. Wait for the process to finish (it could take a while).
  4. Restart your computer.

scannow command has stopped before the process finished? Don’t worry, we’ve got an easy fix for you.

Solution 11 – Run DISM

The next troubleshooting tool we’re going to try is DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management). This tool deploys broken system image files, in order to fix various issues.

So, it could be helpful in this case, as well. Here’s how to run DISM in Windows 10:

  1. Open the Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. In the command line, copy-paste these lines one by one and press Enter after each:
    • DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  3. Wait until the procedure ends (it might take up to 10 minutes).
  4. Restart your PC.

Does it seem that everything is lost when DISM fails on Windows? Check out this quick guide and get rid of the worries.

Solution 12 – Try with the Performance troubleshooter

And the last troubleshooter we’re going to try is Windows’ own Performance troubleshooter. Here’s how to run it:

  1. Open the Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter: msdt.exe /id PerformanceDiagnostic
  3. Wait for the process to finish.
  4. Restart your computer.

If the Troubleshooter stops before completing the process, fix it with the help of this complete guide.

Solution 13 – Change the wallpaper/screensaver

Even though it sounds unlikely, it’s actually possible for your wallpaper or screensaver to cause this problem. Since the DWM handles them.

So, if none of the previous solutions managed to get the job done, change your theme settings and disable the screensaver (if you’re still using one, tho).

To change your theme settings, simply right-click the Desktop and go to Personalization. From here, you´ll be able to change your wallpaper and other settings. To disable the screensaver, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Search, type lock screen, and open Lock Screen Settings.
  2. Now, go to Screen Saver Settings.
  3. Under Screen Saver, select <None> from the dropdown list.
  4. Save the changes and restart your computer.

Solution 14 – Disable Hardware acceleration in Office programs

If you’re using Microsoft Office, there’s a chance its hardware acceleration interferes with the DWM. So, the obvious solution is to disable the hardware acceleration:

  1. Open any Office app.
  2. Go to File > Options > Advanced.
  3. Locate Hardware Acceleration and disable it.
  4. After doing that, try to start Word 2016 again.

If you can’t disable Hardware Acceleration this way, we’re going to turn to the Registry Editor once again:

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. In the left pane navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice16.0Common key.
  3. Right-click the Common key and choose New > Key from the menu.
  4. Enter Graphics as the name of the new key.
  5. Now right click Graphics key and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value DisableHardwareAcceleration.
  6. Double click DisableHardwareAcceleration value and set its Value data to 1. Click OK to save changes.
  7. Close the Registry Editor and check if the problem is resolved.

If you can’t edit your Windows 10’s registry, read this handy guide and find the quickest solutions to the issue.

Can’t access the Registry Editor? Things aren’t as scary as they seem. Check out this guide and solve the issue quickly.

Solution 15 – Remove Logitech SetPoint software

According to users, tools such as Logitech SetPoint can also cause issues with dwm.exe, therefore it’s advised to find and uninstall this tool. Users reported that removing this tool fixed the issues, so be sure to try that.

Dwn.exe is an important Windows 10 process, and many issues with it can occur, but we hope that you managed to fix those issues by using one of our solutions.

As always, if you have any other suggestions or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about DWM

  • Can I end DWM.exe?

You can do this in previous versions of Windows like Vista or Windows 7. Run the services.msc command to open the Services window. Locate Desktop Windows Manager. Double click on it and press Stop. Newer versions this is not possible.

  • Is DWM EXE necessary?

Yes it is. It is a core system process. However, sometimes malware disguises itself as a legitimate processes. You need to perform a scan with a recommended antivirus to be sure it is the legitimate process.

  • Why is DWM exe using CPU?

DWM is responsible for visual effects on your desktop. It is not normal for this process to report a high CPU usage continuously. If this happens, it suggests an issue with a software installed or malware.

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  • Why is DWM exe using so much memory?

The most common reason for DWM using a lot of your system’s memory is caused by a large number of notifications. Find out how to fix DWM notification issues on Windows 10.

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