Antimalware Service Executable, also known as MsMpEng.exe, is a background process used by the built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, in Windows 11 or Windows 10. What does the process do? Why is it causing high disk and CPU usage in Windows 11/10? How do you disable it? Read more on the subject below.
What is Antimalware Service Executable (MsMpEng.exe) process?
This particular process is Windows Defender’s main background service. It exists and remains as a background process when your Windows Defender is active.
Its job is to scan the files on your computer for malware and viruses, install updates for Windows Defender, or anything else related to Windows Defender.
Why is the process causing high Disk and CPU usage?
When you open a program or access a file, Windows Defender will scan the particular program or file you are about to open for malware. This will cause the MsMpEng.exe process to run at high resource usage for a short while, especially when the size of the file or program is very large. After the scan is completed, it will stop using any resources until its next task.
If the process continuously runs at high disk or CPU usage, it could mean that Windows Defender is performing a regular scan or is updating its virus definition. Usually, Windows Defender will perform a regular scan only when your computer is idle. But in some cases, when the scan has started, it won’t stop until it’s completed. You may want to just wait it out.
The point here is that it’s completely normal and fine for the Antimalware Service Executable process to run in the background and use up resources to keep your PC from getting infected.
How to disable the MsMpEng.exe process?
Windows Defender will automatically be active when Windows 10 or 11 doesn’t find any other antivirus software running on your computer. Technically, to stop Windows Defender from running, you need to have proper antivirus software installed, such as Avast, Kaspersky, Norton, or McAfee.
When Windows detects any active antivirus software on your PC, it will switch itself off automatically. If it doesn’t, it will turn on its real-time protection to protect you from malware.
Although we don’t recommend turning off Windows Defender, you can still disable it, but only temporarily. You can’t just disable it permanently. No matter how many times you try to disable it, it will eventually turn itself back on. This is one of Microsoft’s measures to ensure that your computer is always protected.
To temporarily disable Windows Defender:
- Go to Start Menu.
- Search for Windows Defender Settings, then open it.
- Click on the Open Windows Defender Security Center button.
- Next, click on Virus & threat protection, then Virus & threat protection settings.
- Under Real-time protection, click on the toggle button to toggle it off.
If you already have an existing antivirus software running on your PC, check if the periodic scanning option is switched on. If it is, Windows Defender will still perform the regular scan in Windows despite already having another active antivirus program.
To disable (or enable) Windows Defender’s periodic scanning, refer to steps 1-4 above. In the “Virus & threat protection” window, toggle off the “Periodic scanning” under Windows Defender Antivirus options.
Is MsMpEng.exe a virus?
No, the process is not a virus if it’s located at
C:\Program Files\Windows Defender or
You can check it by going to Task Manager > Details tab > right-click on MsMpEng.exe > select Open file location. If it’s not in the mentioned directory or any trusted folder, you may want to run a scan with another antivirus to see if it’s malware.
It’s important to note that while the Antimalware Service Executable process may cause temporary high disk and CPU usage, it’s a critical process for the overall security of your computer. Windows Defender is a powerful antivirus program that provides real-time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Disabling it could leave your computer vulnerable to attacks.
Moreover, if you’re experiencing consistently high resource usage by MsMpEng.exe, it may be a sign of an issue with Windows Defender or your computer. In such cases, you can try running a full system scan using Windows Defender or performing a malware scan using a third-party antivirus software.
Additionally, it’s important to keep your Windows Defender and other antivirus software up-to-date to ensure they’re equipped to handle the latest threats. You should also avoid visiting suspicious websites, downloading unknown files, and opening suspicious email attachments to minimize the risk of getting infected with malware.