- Windows Defender is Microsoft's gift to you: a powerful built-in tool designed to shield your PC against malware.
- While it can be a bliss, the Defender can also trigger less desirable outcomes such as high CPU usage - here's how to solve this issue.
- Get all the fixes you need in our Windows Defender Guides.
- Keen on expanding your horizons? Do check our Windows 10 Troubleshooting Hub.
When we choose our hardware configuration we often go for the best performance that can fit our budget.
Of course, we choose to install the latest Windows OS in order to experience smooth, light, and fast software. The bottom line is the results we obtain are never enough, regardless of the apps and processes we choose to run.
So, when a high CPU usage problem occurs, we sort of panic. Nobody wants to deal with hangs, lags, or any other bugs that can mess up your daily work.
Even if you just play your favorite game, experiencing hangs and lags is really annoying and frustrating.
What is the purpose of Windows Defender?
Now, a common Windows 10 error that will issue high CPU usage is associated with the Windows Defender program.
This is a built-in service that tries to keep your data and your personal info safe and secured all the time.
This is Windows’ own antimalware program that can ensure a minimum of protection while you download programs, install new apps, or web search different pages.
Even though the Windows Defender is not a high performance-consumer, from time to time you can get errors within the Task Manager.
Such is the MsMpEng.exe antimalware service executable issue that leads to high CPU usage.
Why is MsMpEng EXE high?
The Windows Defender program is granting real-time protection which means that the antimalware software should scan everything that you do on your Windows 10 system.
Additionally, it will also perform a full scan – all your files and data will be verified. During this full scan, the antivirus will require more resources than usual and that’s when you might experience the high CPU usage issue.
Of course, if the scan runs, it’s recommended to let the program do its job. Do note that depending on the number of files, this scan can run between a few minutes and a few hours.
But, if the problem persists even after the scan ended you must act wisely in order to fix this Windows 10 error.
And you might have to apply different troubleshooting solutions in order to solve the msmpeng.exe antimalware service that causes high CPU usage.
How do I fix MsMpEng EXE high CPU usage?
1. Try a different antivirus solution
Since we already established the culprit, let us begin with the most straightforward solution: consider replacing the Windows Defender with a third-party antivirus solution.
While there is no shortage of performant security suites on the market, we recommend VIPRE, a reliable antivirus that is guaranteed to not interfere with your system in any way.
Despite its renowned lightweight design, VIPRE is a full-scale security software that extends its next-generation protection to all your digital assets and keeps even the most sophisticated threats at bay.
This modern anti-malware tool was specifically designed to provide the ultimate protection without interfering with your system – you will forget all about CPU usage spikes in no time.
VIPRE runs on a clean, intuitive, and streamlined interface, packed full of customization options that will make life easier for you. You can search for definition updates and even personalize the manner in which these updates apply.
Let’s quickly look at its key features:
- Perform quick scans or schedule scans
- Integrated webcam and microphone blocker
- Real-time protection against common threats such as spyware, ransomware, viruses, Trojans, and emerging malware alike
- Automatic cloud-based updates
- Money-back guarantee
VIPRE AntivirusForget all about high CPU usage with this lightweight, yet immensely powerful antivirus that is bound to not interfere with your system in any way.
2. Adjust the Windows Defender schedule
If the MsMpEng.exe service is not set properly, the antivirus program will initiate a full scan each time you switch on your Windows 10 system or even after you return from Sleep mode.
So, the first fix refers to adjusting the Windows Defender schedule, which can be achieved by following the next steps:
- Power-on your computer and from Desktop press the Win+R keyboard keys.
- The Search box will be displayed; there type: taskschd.msc. Click OK when done.
- From Task Scheduler double-click on the Task Scheduler Library; from the expanded menu pick Microsoft and then click on Windows.
- Scroll down until you find the Windows Defender entry. Click on it.
- From the main panel of the window double-click on Windows Defender Scheduled Scan.
- From the window that will be displayed switch to the General tab and uncheck the Run with highest privileges option.
- Then, switch to the Conditions tab and just uncheck all the checkboxes that are displayed under this tab.
- Save all these settings.
Lookin for some Task Scheduler alternatives? Check out this list with our best picks.
3. Include Antimalware service executable (MsMpEng.exe) to Windows Defender Exclusion list
If the steps from above aren’t working for you then you should add the msmpeng.exe executable file to the Windows Defender Exclusion list.
In this way the program will no longer use high CPU resources, though it will be still running as usual:
- Open Windows Settings on your computer – press the Wind+I key combination.
- From there click on Update & Security.
- From the left panel choose Window Defender.
- Under Exclusions click on Add an exclusion.
- From the window that will be displayed scroll down and pick Exclude a .exe, .com, or .scr process.
- When asked, add msmpeng.exe to the list.
If you’re having trouble opening the Setting app, take a look at this article to solve the issue.
4. Turn off Windows Defender
Even though we don’t recommend this solution, if the high CPU usage issue is still there after completing the steps from above, you should consider disabling Windows Defender.
But, you should use this troubleshooting method only if you have a security alternative already installed on your Windows 10 system. Anyway, here are the actual steps that can help you turn off Windows Defender:
- Press Win+R keyboard keys for accessing the Search box.
- Type gpedit.msc and click on OK.
- The Local Group Policy Editor will be now brought on your computer.
- From Group Policy use the left panel and navigate towards Computer Configuration – > Administrative Templates – > Windows Components – > Windows Defender.
- Head your attention towards the main panel of the window and find the option named Turn off Windows Defender; access this option.
- From the dialog that will show up select disabled and click OK.
- That’s it; reboot the Windows 10 system in the end.
Most Windows 10 users have no idea how to edit the Group Policy. Learn how you can do it by reading this simple article.
It’s never a good idea to play with security settings. You need to make sure you properly understand the high CPU usage by MsMpEng.exe antimalware service executable error first.
Then, if you choose to disable the default Windows antimalware program, try to install another antivirus software.
Do not any under circumstance use your Windows 10 computer without running an antivirus – this is the only way in which you can keep your personal files safe all the time.
Should you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to reach for the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.