Dwm.exe Windows 11 issues [High CPU, Crash, Virus]

by Vladimir Popescu
Vladimir Popescu
Vladimir Popescu
Managing Editor
Being an artist his entire life while also playing handball at a professional level, Vladimir has also developed a passion for all things computer-related. With an innate fascination... read more
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  • On Windows 11, a crash caused by dwm.exe could indicate a malware infection or damaged hardware.
  • Check your controller or USB devices as a first step in dealing with a dwm.exe crash.
  • Running several system scans such as SFC can also help you get rid of the encountered error.
dwm window dwm.exe windows 11

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Dwm.exe is an abbreviation for Desktop Window Manager, which is a critical Windows 11 process. Despite the fact that dwm.exe is so important, several users have reported problems with it.

You could turn off the Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) process in prior versions of Windows. However, this is no longer available in Windows 11.

Because dwm.exe is a critical system process, you should avoid interfering with it unless you want to entirely ruin Windows 11 (and be forced to wipe and reset Windows as a result).

Nevertheless, there are some potential actions you can take to fix issues with it. We prepared a list of methods you can try to solve dwm.exe problems such as high CPU usage and system crashes.

What does dwm.exe do?

Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) is a critical system process that manages your graphical user interface. It specifically aids in the creation of visual effects like transparent windows and taskbar thumbnails that you’ll see when using Windows.
dwm task manager dwm.exe windows 11

The design of the user interface is logged into Windows memory when you start a new program, allowing the design to be developed.

The window designs are then manipulated by Windows to guarantee that their own visual effects are applied.

Windows employs hardware acceleration to assist users to have a more smooth experience, taking advantage of your graphics hardware in the process, while it may fall back to software rendering if your graphics card (or built-in graphics chipset) isn’t capable.

If the dwm.exe process is using a significant portion of your CPU utilization in Windows Task Manager, this would suggest an issue with your hardware or system configuration.

Other factors that could be contributing to excessive CPU utilization by dwm.exe include out-of-date drivers or missing Windows system updates, as well as the fact that internal graphics (rather than an external graphics card) is being used to generate visual effects rather than an external graphics card.

How do I fix the dwm.exe process in Windows 11?

1. Disable screensaver

For those experiencing high resource use with Desktop Window Manager, you should consider changing your theme or wallpaper to see if that helps.
personalisation   dwm.exe windows 11
If you have a Screensaver activated, turn it off and see what happens. In fact, try changing all of your Personalization options, such as your Lock Screen, Color Profiles, and so on, and see if that solves the problem.

2. Run the performance troubleshooter

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your keyboard and type cmd. Right-click on the most relevant result to run it as an administrator.
    cmd-search  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Once the Command Prompt window opened, type or paste in the following command and hit Enter:
    msdt.exe /id PerformanceDiagnostic
    msdt  dwm.exe windows 11

This troubleshooter assists the user in making adjustments to the operating system’s settings in order to improve its speed and performance.

3. Adjust the system for best performance

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your keyboard and type View advanced system settings, then click on the most relevant result.
    view advanced  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Once the System properties window opened, click on Settings next to the Performance section.
    settings performance  dwm.exe windows 11
  3. Next, tick the Adjust for best performance radio button, then click Apply and OK in the bottom side.
    adjust  dwm.exe windows 11

The Adjust for best performance option will make a set of changes to your OS in order for it to run smoother. If you don’t like them, you can go back by choosing the Adjust for best appearance.

4. Check your computer for malware

If dwm.exe is consuming an excessive amount of CPU power or memory, it is possible that a computer virus is responsible.

The difficulties with dwm.exe have been reported to be resolved by users after checking their computers and eliminating all suspicious files, thus it is recommended that you attempt this. One of our recommended AV being ESET which has a high detection rate and has a relatively low RAM consumption.

Users, on the other hand, have complained that both Avast and AVG have caused problems with this operation, so you may wish to uninstall those programs from your computer.

It is necessary to point out that practically any antivirus application might cause issues with dwm.exe and should be avoided.

As a result, either temporarily delete any third-party antivirus products from your computer or disable the software completely.

For Norton customers, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to totally uninstall it from your computer. There’s a similar guide available for those who use McAffe.

5. Restart explorer.exe

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your keyboard and type Task Manager, then click on the most relevant result.
    task manager  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. After the Task Manager window opens, go to the Details tab and locate the explorer.exe task. Once you found it, right-click on it and choose End Task.
    explorer end task  dwm.exe windows 11
  3. Now go to File and choose Run new task.
    run new task  dwm.exe windows 11
  4. Enter explorer and click OK.
    run task explorer dwm.exe windows 11

In case the process takes up too much RAM, this step should cut resources and restore your device’s functionality.

You can also resolve this issue by logging out of Windows 11 and logging back in. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution, and you may have to repeat the process each time the problem occurs.

6. Delete the mdi264.dll

  1. Press Windows + I to open the Settings menu, then choose Recovery under the System panel.
    recovery  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Now click on Restart now next to the Advanced startup section.
    advanced startup  dwm.exe windows 11
  3. When your computer restarts, choose Troubleshoot, then go to Advanced options.
    troublehsoot https://cdn.windowsreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/advanced-startup-restart-now.jpg
  4. Once you are in the Advanced options menu, click on Command Prompt and enter the following commands then press Enter after each:
    cd  C: \Users\Your Name Here\App\Data\Local\Temp del mdi264.dll
    cmd option  dwm.exe windows 11

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Close Command Prompt and restart your computer after you have done the actions outlined above.

7. Run the SFC scan

  1. Press the Windows + S key to open the Search bar, then type cmd and right-click on the first top result to run it as an Administrator and get full access.
    cmd-search  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Type or paste inside the window the following command and press Enter:
    sfc /scannow
    sfc scan  dwm.exe windows 11

Simply wait for the process to finish (which may take some time) before restarting your computer.

8. Run DISM

  1. Press the Windows + S key to open the Search bar then type cmd and right-click on the most relevant result to run it as an Administrator and get the entire access.
    cmd-search  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Type or paste in the following commands and press Enter after each to start the process:
    DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
    dism command  dwm.exe windows 11

Sit down and wait for the procedure to finish. Please be aware that it may take up to ten minutes. After that, restart your computer to confirm that the changes have taken effect.

9. Disable Hardware accelaration

  1. Press the Windows + S key to open the Search bar, then type regedit, and click on the most relevant result.
    regedit  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Navigate to Software under HKEY_CURRENT_USER, then go to Microsoft, followed by Office16.0 and Common.
    microsoft regedit  dwm.exe windows 11
  3. Right click the Common key and choose New, then Key from the menu.
    new common key  dwm.exe windows 11
  4. Enter Graphics as the name of the new key.
    graphics input  dwm.exe windows 11
  5. Now right click the Graphics key and select New, then DWORD(32-BIT) Value. Name the new value DisableHardwareAcceleration.
    graphics new key  dwm.exe windows 11
  6. Double click DisableHardwareAcceleration value and se its Value data to 1.
    disable apps  dwm.exe windows 11

In order for the changes to take effect, you must close the Registry Editor and then restart your computer.

10. Disable problematic services

  1. Press the Windows key + R on your keyboard and enter services.msc, then press Enter or click the OK button.
    dervices window  dwm.exe windows 11
  2. Once the Services window opens you need to disable Skype Updater, Google Update (update), 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.
    disable apps  dwm.exe windows 11

Before closing the Services window, double-check that all of the services listed in Step 2 – Skype Updater, Google Update (update), and Google Update (gupdatem) have been turned off.

Why is Task Manager using so much CPU?

If you’ve ever opened Task Manager only to have your CPU utilization surge to 100% and stay there, you may have questioned why this strange spike in system resource usage happens.

After all, Task Manager is a program that has little impact on system performance on most computers. We’ll go over the topic in this post.
task manager  dwm.exe windows 11

When you start Task Manager, it starts collecting data about what processes are running, which ones are utilizing the most system resources, and what resources they’re using.

Task Manager is gathering this data, and the CPU utilization spike you witness is Task Manager assembling it. When it’s finished, it settles down and displays all of the data in a tabular manner.

It’s much more perplexing when you’re keeping track of CPU consumption for many tasks. The solution is to launch Task Manager first, so that it can start monitoring CPU consumption right away, rather than after it has already begun to drain your CPU.

Having said that, you have the option of slowing down the Task Manager update speed in order to avoid this bothersome situation. Given how slowly the upgrade will proceed, the surge in CPU utilization will occur at a later time.

Windows Task Manager is a quick and simple way to monitor exactly which programs are now operating on your computer, as well as how much CPU and memory they are currently consuming.

However, if you are dissatisfied with it, you can look at some alternative Task Manager apps that can assist you in tracking resource usage in Windows.

Dwn.exe is an important Windows 11 process, and many issues with it can occur, but we hope that you managed to fix those issues by using one of our solutions.

In order to gain a better understanding of what dwm.exe does, see our article on why you can’t kill DWM in Windows 11 any longer.

We recommend that you review our article on dwm.exe issues in Windows 10 for additional information and potential solutions, as some of the approaches discussed there are applicable in the new OS too.

Lastly, check out our list of actions you can take to make Windows 11 run quicker in order to have a more enjoyable and swifter experience on your PC.

If you have any further questions, please let us know in the comments section below, as well as which solution you found most effective.

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