What is dwm.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 dwm.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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Dwm.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with dwm
Dwm.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as Desktop Window Manager or Microsoft Desktop Window Manager or Administrador de ventanas del escritorio or Desktopfenster-Manager or Microsoft .NET ClickOnce Launch Utility

belongs to software Microsoft Windows Operating System or GSoft or Microsoft .NET Framework or Sistema operativo Microsoft Windows or Betriebssystem Microsoft Windows

by Microsoft (

Description: The original dwm.exe from Microsoft is an important part of Windows, but often causes problems. Dwm.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Known file sizes on Windows 8/7/XP are 81,920 bytes (37% of all occurrences), 83,456 bytes and 11 more variants. 
Dwm.exe is a Windows core system file. The program has no visible window. The dwm.exe file is a trustworthy file from Microsoft. It can change the behavior of other programs or manipulate other programs. Therefore the technical security rating is 22% dangerous, however you should also read the user reviews.

Recommended: Identify dwm.exe related errors

Viruses with the same file name

Is dwm.exe a virus? No, it is not. The true dwm.exe file is a safe Microsoft Windows system process, called "Desktop Window Manager". However, writers of malware programs, such as viruses, worms, and Trojans deliberately give their processes the same file name to escape detection. Viruses with the same file name are for example Mal_Banker11 or TROJ_DEEWOMZ.M (detected by TrendMicro), and Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.fjqt or Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banker.sieg (detected by Kaspersky).
To ensure that no rogue dwm.exe is running on your PC, click here to run a Free Malware Scan.

How to recognize suspicious variants?

Important: Some malware disguises itself as dwm.exe, particularly when not located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the dwm.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

WVista, W8 system process - It's used to create all those Aero effects (transparent windows, etc.). To turn off just rightclick your desktop, select personalize and switch to style which doesn't use Aero. Can cause problems on scrap-quality computers.
  ATL   (further information)
dmw.exe*32 is a trojan (deewomz) designed to appear the same as dwm.exe - a legitimate windows aero file. In my case it pretended to be some sort of Firefox executable - I think that may vary from person to person however. If you end its process in windows task manager it just restarts. If you right click/open file location (leave the window open), then end the process, then delete the file from the open window, it seems to stop it. Just remember to scan you system thoroughly with a top malware scanner/virus checker, to eradicate any other viruses it might have loaded onto your system.
I have rated it as dangerous because I found an infected version running on one of my PCs. Thanks to Christian Meinhold's comment, I did more searching. I found it was asking for permission to contact a strange IP address, didn't live in Windows/System32 folder and had a porno image for its icon. Checked with latest Norton Internet Security and it passed security, so I then did a system check with Norton Power Eraser and ONLY THEN did I get warnings that this particular version (a Trojan masquerading as dwm.exe) was unsafe. The important thing about this program is to check that it lives in the correct folder. Don't be fooled by its name, check thoroughly if you have doubts ;)
My dwm file had 50MB and caused my idle i5's usage to go up to 40% idle. Win7.
simply got to Personalize and turn it off by choosing windows basic instead of aero, blam fixed and disabled
its for the aero theme, any modern pc (2012-2013) wil not notice a performance decrease however older systems can notice a diffrence. especialy older laptops with integrated grapics (onboard ie intel integrated grapics etc etc) turn of aero themes and dwm wil stop using resources but with u dualcore or better 2g ram or better and an external grapics card the slight drain(read unoticble) u wil get a great look. noticble is that it wil eat more cpu if u use more than 1 monitor, on this old lappy it can get to 20% cpu (hooked to a 1680-1050 and using the laptops own screen aswel) (celeron m 1.8 ghz lol)
  dave van loo  
My dwm file is under the Windows folder but its size (120,320) corresponds to a variant size listed for files under the Documents and Settings folder.
if a customer has a slow laptop try disabling this, it has just turned a barely functional laptop into one functioning satisfactorily
More comments can be found here:
    (further information)

Rating chart

Summary: Average user rating of dwm.exe: based on 263 votes with 9 reviews. 168 users think dwm.exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. 15 users think it's probably harmless. 32 users think it's neither essential nor dangerous. 8 users suspect danger. 40 users think dwm.exe is dangerous and recommend removing it. 12 users don't grade dwm.exe ("not sure about it").

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Best practices for resolving dwm issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with dwm. 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 dwm.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

dwm.exe [all]