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MsMpEng.exe causing High CPU usage? Best 7 solutions

MsMpEng.exe causing High CPU usage

At its core, Windows (or any other operating system) is just a combination of files and processes. These files and processes need to work in sync to provide a smooth experience for users. But that often isn’t the case, as at least one file can malfunction, causing all sorts of issues. In this article, we’re going to talk about one file in particular, and the problem it can cause. And that is when MsMpEng.exe causes high CPU usage.

So, if you’ve noticed unnaturally high CPU usage caused by MsMpEng.exe, keep reading this article, as we’ll delve into what this file precisely is, why does it cause high CPU usage, and what to do about it.

Why does MsMpEng.exe cause high CPU Usage?

MsMpEng.exe stands for Microsoft Malware Protection Engine and is a crucial part of Windows Defender. The role of this executable file is to scan files for malware, monitor activities for suspicious behavior, and implement real-time protection measures to safeguard the computer against potential threats.

The process can cause high CPU usage for several reasons:

  • Real-Time Protection: As MsMpEng.exe continuously monitors the system in real-time, it scans files and processes as they are accessed, which can be resource-intensive, especially if many operations are occurring simultaneously.
  • Full System Scans: Scheduled or manually initiated full system scans require significant processing power to thoroughly check all files and running processes on the system, leading to spikes in CPU usage.
  • Frequent Updates: Windows Defender receives regular updates to its malware definitions and scanning engine. Processing these updates and integrating them into the ongoing protection routines can temporarily increase CPU usage.
  • Software Conflicts: MsMpEng.exe might exhibit high CPU usage if there are conflicts with other security software installed on the system, leading to redundant scanning of files and processes.
  • Malware Infection: Ironically, an infection by malware designed to hinder Windows Defender can cause MsMpEng.exe to use excessive CPU as it attempts to counteract these threats.
  • Outdated System Files or Definitions: Outdated malware definitions or system files can cause inefficiencies in how MsMpEng.exe operates, leading to higher than normal CPU usage as the process may struggle with newer threats or software incompatibilities.

What to do if MsMpEng.exe causes high CPU usage

Although MsMpEng.exe is a crucial part of Windows Defender, and detrimental for keeping your system safe, we’ve established that it can also be quite resource-demanding and sometimes cause high CPU usage.

If you open the Task Manager, and notice this particular file uses more CPU than it should, try some of the following solutions:

Solution 1: Add an Exclusion to Windows Defender

Adding an exclusion for MsMpEng.exe within Windows Defender can sometimes reduce its resource consumption without compromising system security.

  1. Open Windows Security: Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection.
  2. Under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings.
  3. Scroll down to Exclusions and select Add or remove exclusions.
  4. Click Add an exclusion, select Process, and type MsMpEng.exe to exclude it from scanning itself.

Solution 2: Schedule Windows Defender Scans

Configuring Windows Defender to perform scans during times when you’re less likely to feel the impact on system performance can help.

  1. Open Task Scheduler: Search for it in the Start menu and open it.
  2. Navigate to Library/Microsoft/Windows/Windows Defender.
  3. Right-click on Windows Defender Scheduled Scan, choose Properties, then go to the Triggers tab and edit or add a new trigger for a time that suits your schedule.

Solution 3: Limit Windows Defender’s CPU Usage

Limiting the amount of CPU usage for Windows Defender can reduce its impact on system performance.

  1. Open the Local Group Policy Editor: Press Win + R, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Defender Antivirus > Scan.
  3. Find and double-click on Specify the maximum percentage of CPU utilization during a scan. MsMpEng.exe causing High CPU usage
  4. Enable the setting and specify a lower CPU usage percentage, like 30 or 50 percent, then click OK.

Solution 4: Update Windows Security

Ensuring that Windows Security is up to date can improve efficiency and potentially reduce the resource consumption of MsMpEng.exe.

  1. Open Windows Security by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection.
  2. Click on Check for updates under Virus & threat protection updates. Install any available updates to ensure the latest definitions and engine optimizations are in place. MsMpEng.exe causing High CPU usage

Solution 5: Change Windows Defender’s Scheduled Scan Frequency

Adjusting how often Windows Defender performs full scans can reduce its impact on system resources.

  1. Follow the steps to open Task Scheduler and navigate to the Windows Defender folder as in Solution 2.
  2. Right-click Windows Defender Scheduled Scan, select Properties, and adjust the frequency under the Triggers tab to a less frequent schedule that suits your usage patterns.

Solution 6: Disable Real-time Protection Temporarily

If you’re performing resource-intensive tasks, temporarily disabling real-time protection can help, but ensure to re-enable it immediately after you’re done to keep your system protected.

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection.
  2. Under Virus & threat protection settings, click Manage settings and toggle Real-time protection to Off. Remember to turn it back on as soon as possible.

Solution 7: Use Resource Allocation Tools

Windows provides tools to manage how resources are allocated to running processes, which can be used to limit the impact of MsMpEng.exe.

  1. Open Resource Monitor: Press Win + R, type resmon, and press Enter.
  2. Find MsMpEng.exe in the CPU section, right-click it, and select Suspend Process to temporarily pause its activity. Be cautious, as this may impact Windows Security’s functionality. Alternatively, consider using third-party software designed for more granular resource management.

Addressing the high CPU usage caused by MsMpEng.exe is essential for maintaining optimal performance and security on your Windows system. We sure hope these solutions helped you to both solve the high CPU usage and restore the optimal functionality of the MsMpEnd.exe file.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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