What is cthelper.exe?

The .exe extension on a filename indicates an executable file. Executable files may, in some cases, harm your computer. Therefore, please read below to decide for yourself whether the cthelper.exe on your computer is a Trojan that you should remove, or whether it is a file belonging to the Windows operating system or to a trusted application.

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Cthelper.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with cthelper
Cthelper.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as CtHelper Application or CtHelper MFC Application belongs to software CtHelper Application or CtHelper MFC Application or HijackThis by Creative Technology (

Description: Cthelper.exe is not essential for Windows and will often cause problems. Cthelper.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Known file sizes on Windows 8/7/XP are 24,576 bytes (64% of all occurrences), 28,672 bytes and 10 more variants. 
It is not a Windows system file. The program is loaded during the Windows boot process (see Registry key: MACHINE\Run, Run, Winlogon\Shell, MACHINE\RunServices). The program has no visible window. Cthelper.exe is located in the Windows folder, but it is not a Windows core file. Cthelper.exe is able to monitor applications. Therefore the technical security rating is 57% dangerous, however you should also read the user reviews.
You could completely remove HijackThis (Control Panel⇒Add/Remove programs).

Recommended: Identify cthelper.exe related errors

External information from Paul Collins:

Important: Some malware disguises itself as cthelper.exe, particularly when not located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the cthelper.exe process on your PC to see if it is a threat. We recommend Security Task Manager for verifying your computer's security. This was one of the Top Download Picks of The Washington Post and PC World.


User Comments

I know it monitors when you plug in headphones. When I kill it in Task Manager and plug in my headphones, I have to manually change my speaker settings.
Most cthelper.exe are safe from microsoft. HOWEVER some are definitely Malware. It's up to you to figure out which one it is.
  LinuxPusher   (further information)
Creative process
Yahoo [Bot]
Hogging up my CPU last night. Very Annoying. Couldn't use my machine. Windows XP Professional.
EAX does not need this file to work, I'm not sure if games require it, but for 95% of users ditch it and gain 5megs of memory.
I just reinstalled my OS (Win XP Pro) so it can't be infected with anything yet. Also, I installed the drivers for Creative SoundBlaster Audigy from Creative Labs. It makes perfect sense that "ctfmon" is a startup app that the SoundBlaster audio card needs.
Agree that it's Creative's file. I'm running a notebook Audigy ZS on an XP MCE machine. Could be a culprit behind some BSoD. Does not play well with others as it might cause crashes if two MIDI programs are open at the same time. Check for memory leaks, you will hear popping in the audio before as this happens. Rec using a mem defrag if switching SoundFonts as the memory leaks seems real. Creative still hasn't fixed it, or isn't aware this is happening.
More comments can be found here:
    (further information)

Rating chart

Summary: Average user rating of cthelper.exe: based on 165 votes with 9 reviews. 83 users think cthelper.exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. 15 users think it's probably harmless. 30 users think it's neither essential nor dangerous. 13 users suspect danger. 24 users think cthelper.exe is dangerous and recommend removing it. 17 users don't grade cthelper.exe ("not sure about it").

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Best practices for resolving cthelper issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with cthelper. This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using cleanmgr and sfc /scannow, uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using msconfig) and enabling Windows' Automatic Update. Always remember to perform periodic backups, or at least to set restore points.

Should you experience an actual problem, try to recall the last thing you did, or the last thing you installed before the problem appeared for the first time. Use the resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off doing a repair of your installation, or in the case of Windows 8, executing the DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the cthelper.exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: Security Task Manager displays all running Windows tasks, including embedded hidden processes, such as keyboard and browser monitoring or Autostart entries. A unique security risk rating indicates the likelihood of the process being potential spyware, malware or a Trojan. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

cthelper.exe [all]