MsMpEng.exe high CPU usage on PC: How to fix it

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Madalina has been a Windows fan ever since she got her hands on her first Windows XP computer. She is interested in all things technology, especially emerging technologies -- AI and DNA computing in... Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • MsMpEng.exe may cause high CPU usage on Windows 10 and make your PC almost unusable.
  • This process is part of Windows Defender and it's not a virus but that doesn't mean that this problem can't be produced by malware.
  • Tweaking the settings of the built-in antivirus will stop it from scanning its own files.
  • Installing a new and more reliable antivirus can also help you bypass this issue completely.
Fix MsMpEng.exe high CPU usage
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MsMpEng.exe may sometimes cause high CPU usage on Windows computers and that can create other issues as well.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about this process and how to fix some of the most common issues it triggers.

What is MsMpEng.exe? Is it a virus? MsMpEng.exe is a core process of Windows Defender. It’s not a virus.

Its role is to scan downloaded files for spyware, and quarantine or remove them if they are suspicious. It also scans your system for known worms, harmful software, viruses, and other such programs.

Can I stop MsMpEng.exe? Many Windows users, irrespective of the Windows version they use, have reported that sometimes MsMpEng.exe causes high CPU and high RAM usage, reaching even more than 80%.

Why is MsMpEng.exe using so much CPU?

There are multiple causes for this msmpeng.exe unusual behavior. For instance, the tool may be scanning its own directory.

Other probable causes may be low hardware resources or some old antivirus registry files. Of course, it can also be the case of malware installed on your PC.

There are lots of free and paid antivirus programs available, and you can choose at any moment to remove Windows Defender and replace it with a more reliable antivirus.

However, before taking such a decision fueled, perhaps by msmpeng.exe’s high CPU usage, you should try out the following workarounds to fix this issue.

How can I fix MsMpEng.exe high CPU usage?

  1. Prevent Windows Defender from scanning its directory
  2. Limit CPU usage
  3. Try a more reliable antivirus
  4. Start your computer in Safe Mode
  5. Remove adware
  6. Reschedule Windows Defender
  7. Try to disable Windows Defender
  8. Disable Sample Submission

1. Prevent Windows Defender from scanning its directory

  1. Type Windows Security in the search bar and click on Windows Security from the results.
  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  3. Click on Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings.
  4. Scroll down and click on Add or remove exclusions under Exclusions.
  5. Select Add an exclusion and choose Folder.
  6. Select the following path: C:Program fileswindows defender
  7. Validate by clicking on Exclude this folder.

By performing this procedure, you will prevent Windows Defender from scanning its own files so try that.

2. Limit CPU usage

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Task Manager from the list.
  2. Click on the Details tab.
  3. Right-click msmpeng.exe, select Set affinity.
  4. Choose the cores which you allow the particular process to use.

By performing the steps above, you will limit the processing power allocated to the process, so you won’t have to deal with a high CPU usage on that process.

3. Try a more reliable antivirus

As this whole issue is most likely produced by Windows Defender, you should consider taking a step up and getting yourself a better antivirus.

Although the Windows 10 built-in defense app is pretty good, you will see a huge difference when you will be protected by a full-fledged antivirus.

The solution recommended below employs the latest technologies for identifying and eliminating the latest malware and it will protect all your devices, including your webcam and router.

This is one of the best antiviruses on the market right now, but you can still test it for 30 days before buying so try it now.

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4. Start your computer in Safe Mode

4.1 For Windows 10

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Update & Security and then click on Recovery.
  3. Under Advanced startup, select Restart now.recovery settings app Msmpeng.exe encountered a problem
  4. When your PC restarts to the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot, then click on Advanced options, then on Startup Settings, and click on Restart.
  5. You’ll then see a list of options. Press F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode.

4.2 For Windows 7

  1. Reboot your computer.
  2. Press F8 as your computer is restarting, before the Windows logo appears.
  3. When the Windows Advanced Options Menu appears on the screen, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter.

If you’re still using Windows 7, you can start your PC in Safe Mode by performing the above steps.

We have an excellent guide on how to deal with high CPU usage in Safe Mode so you can also check it out.

5. Remove adware

As this issue can also be produced by adware, you should also consider using specialized software to remove it.

The tool recommended below is a champion when it comes to removing malware but it also does a great job in eliminating any adware as well.

Just hit the link below to download and install it. In just a few seconds it will scan your system, identify and get rid of any such nuissances from your PC.

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6. Reschedule Windows Defender

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter task scheduler. Select Task Scheduler from the list of results.
  2. When Task Scheduler opens, in the left pane navigate to Task Scheduler Library > Windows Defender.
  3. In the right pane, double click on Windows Defender Scheduled Scan.
    windows defender scheduled scan Msmpeng.exe slow boot
  4. When the Properties window opens, go to the Conditions tab. Make sure that Start the task only if the computer is idle, Start the task only if the computer is on AC power, and Start only if the following network connection is available options are disabled. Click OK to save the changes.
  5. Open the Properties window again and go to Triggers tab. Click on New.
    new trigger task scheduler Msmpeng.exe memory leak
  6. Choose Weekly or Monthly and select the desired properties. Once you’re done, click the OK button to save the changes.
    trigger properties task scheduler Msmpeng.exe end process Access Denied
  7. Now go back to Task Scheduler and make the same changes for all Windows Defender tasks. You should have these tasks remaining: Windows Defender Cache Maintenance, Windows Defender Cleanup, and Windows Defender Verification.

Windows Defender can sometimes cause problems with MsMpEng.exe and high CPU usage. To fix this problem, you need to reschedule Windows Defender by following the steps above.

This is a bit advanced workaround, but you should be able to complete it by following our steps closely. Keep in mind that the high CPU usage will reoccur when Windows Defender starts scanning.

However, you can schedule the scan to take place once a month in order to avoid this problem.

If you don’t like the built-in scheduler app, take a look at our selection including the best Windows task scheduler software, and pick a better one.

7. Try to disable Windows Defender

7.1 Use the Group Policy Editor

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter gpedit.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
    gpedit.msc run window Msmpeng.exe excessive disk usage
  2. Group Policy Editor will now start. Keep in mind that this feature is available only on Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows.
  3. In the left pane, navigate to Computer Configuration, select Administrative Templates choose Windows Components, and click on Windows Defender Antivirus.
  4. In the right pane, double click on Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus.
    turn off windows defender antivirus Msmpeng.exe encountered a problem
  5. When the Properties window opens, select Enabled and click on Apply and OK to save the changes.
    enable policy Msmpeng.exe running constantly

If you have a Home version of Windows, you will not have the Group Policy Editor available. However, you can also install it anytime. Here’s a great guide on how to do that.

7.2 Use the Registry Editor

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
    regedit run window Msmpeng.exe slow boot
  2. When the Registry Editor opens, navigate to the following path in the left pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender
    registry editor windows defender key Msmpeng.exe keeps running
  3. In the right pane, look for DisableAntiSpyware DWORD. If this DWORD isn’t available, right-click the empty space and choose New and select DWORD (32-bit) Value from the menu. Now enter DisableAntiSpyware as the name of the new DWORD and double click it.
    new dword registry editor Msmpeng.exe memory leak
  4. Set the Value data to 1 and click on OK to save the changes.
    disableantispyware dword Msmpeng.exe end process Access Denied

If you can’t run Group Policy Editor on your PC, you can also fix this problem by modifying your registry. To do that, follow the steps above.

If you’re still having problems with MsMpEng.exe and high CPU usage, you might be able to fix the issue simply by disabling Windows Defender.

Before you disable Windows Defender, be sure to install a third-party antivirus software in order to protect your PC.

After making the changes, Windows Defender will be disabled and the problem should be resolved.

8. Disable Sample Submission

  1. Open the Settings app and navigate to Update & security section.
    update & security settings app Msmpeng.exe eating memory
  2. Navigate to Windows Security on the menu on the left and click on Open Windows Security.
  3. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  4. Click on Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings.
  5. Locate Automatic sample submission and turn it off.
    disable automatic sample submission Msmpeng.exe running constantly

According to users, problems with msmpeng.exe high memory and high CPU usage can appear due to Sample Submission feature. This feature sends problematic files to Microsoft for analysis.

Although this is a useful process, it can cause problems to appear. To fix this issue, we need to disable this feature by doing the previous steps. After doing that, check if the issue is resolved.

This problem is very similar to another Windows Defender problem so check out our expert guide on how to stop Antimalware Service Executable in Windows 10.

MsMpEng.exe triggered issues

There are many problems that can occur with MsMpEng.exe, and users reported the following issues:

  • Msmpeng.exe end process Access Denied – According to users, sometimes they might get Access Denied error message while trying to end this process. To fix this problem be sure to try some of our solutions.
  • Msmpeng.exe eating memory, CPU – Sometimes this process can cause both high CPU and memory usage. This can drastically impact your performance, so it’s important to fix this problem as soon as you can.
  • Msmpeng.exe excessive disk usage – In addition to high CPU usage, disk usage problems can also appear. Many users reported that this process is responsible for high disk usage on their PC.
  • Msmpeng.exe encountered a problem – Sometimes this process can randomly crash on your PC. You can easily recognize this problem by its Encountered a problem error message.
  • Msmpeng.exe running constantly – Many users reported that Msmpeng.exe is running constantly in the background. According to them, this is causing high CPU usage on their PC.
  • Msmpeng.exe slow boot – This process can also affect your boot time. Many users reported that their PC boots slowly due to this problem.
  • Msmpeng.exe keeps running – Several users reported that this problem keeps running in the background. Due to high resource usage this process can drastically reduce your performance.
  • Msmpeng.exe memory leak – Another common problem with this process is memory leaks. If this problem occurs on your PC, be sure to try some of our solutions.

We hope that you managed to get rid of this annoying problem by using our solutions above.

As this is an antivirus-related issue, you should also take a look at our selection of the best antiviruses with unlimited license validity for your PC and choose the right product for you.

If you have other suggestions or ideas, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts in a comment below.

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