What is smss .exe?

The genuine smss .exe file is a software component of Microsoft Session Manager Subsystem by Microsoft.
"smss.exe" is a file that manages the startup of all user sessions in Windows. The operating system's main thread activates the file. "smss.exe" launches processes such as Win32 and WinLogin. It also sets the system variables, followed by shutting down the system once those 2 files are ended. If for some reason, those 2 files do not end; "smss.exe" causes the system to hang. Microsoft has developed numerous, highly used software applications such as Microsoft Office, Windows Operating Systems, Internet security applications, networking software, and tons more. The company was founded in 1975 and made the BASIC interpreters for Altair 8800 systems. Since then, they have evolved into one of the world's biggest software manufacturing companies, but also provide hardware such as the mouse, keyboards, audio devices, and much more.

smss stands for Session Manager Subsystem

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 smss .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.

Click to Run a Free Scan for smss .exe related errors

Smss .exe file information

The process known as smss belongs to software smss by McGruff SafeGuard (

Description: Smss .exe is not essential for the Windows OS and causes relatively few problems. Smss .exe is located in a subfolder of C:\Windows\System32 or sometimes in a subfolder of C:\Windows. Known file sizes on Windows 10/8/7/XP are 196,676 bytes (23% of all occurrences), 192,580 bytes and 7 more variants. 
The process has no file description. The program has no visible window. The file is an unknown file in the Windows folder. The file is not a Windows core file. The process starts when Windows starts (see Registry key: MACHINE\Run). Smss .exe is able to record keyboard and mouse inputs, monitor applications and manipulate other programs. Therefore the technical security rating is 78% dangerous, however you should also read the user reviews.

Recommended: Identify smss .exe related errors

Important: Some malware camouflages itself as smss .exe. Therefore, you should check the smss .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

This belongs to Event Agent Keyrecord by McGruff SafeGuard
I renamed the smss.exe and the W7 boot would not initialize resulting in a BSOD. Luckily I could boot from another drive and rename the file back.
  Jim Attrill  

Summary: Average user rating of smss .exe: based on 2 votes with 2 user comments. One user thinks smss .exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. One user thinks it's neither essential nor dangerous.

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Best practices for resolving smss issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with smss . This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using 1cleanmgr and 2sfc /scannow, 3uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using 4msconfig) and enabling Windows' 5Automatic 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 6resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off repairing of your installation or, for Windows 8 and later versions, executing the 7DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the smss .exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: ASecurity 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. BMalwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

smss .exe [all]