What is SearchProtocolHost.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 SearchProtocolHost.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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SearchProtocolHost.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with SearchProtocolHost
SearchProtocolHost.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host belongs to software Windows Search or Microsoft Windows Operating System or Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host by Microsoft (

Description: SearchProtocolHost.exe is an important part of Windows, but often causes problems. The file SearchProtocolHost.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Known file sizes on Windows 10/8/7/XP are 164,352 bytes (39% of all occurrences), 184,832 bytes and 16 more variants. 
The program is not visible. It is a trustworthy file from Microsoft. Therefore the technical security rating is 7% dangerous; however you should also read the user reviews.

Recommended: Identify SearchProtocolHost.exe related errors

If SearchProtocolHost.exe is located in a subfolder of C:\Windows, the security rating is 11% dangerous. The file size is 164,352 bytes (37% of all occurrences), 184,832 bytes and 6 more variants. The program is not visible. SearchProtocolHost.exe is a trustworthy file from Microsoft.

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

Found this on my iPad & iPhone 5 though it says coming from iPhone 6
rkill killed 2 instances of SearchProtocolHost.exe, one of SearchFilterHost.exe and one of rundll32.exe, and the user's main complaint was resolved. The instances killed by rkill are probably not the real thing.
If in System folder then there is no danger.
Looks like there is at least 2 versions of SearchProtocolHost. One is from Microsoft and is located in the System32 folder. Another is related to and was installed with the Free Ride Games Player. I have Virus Total Updater 2.2-beta installed on my Win 7 computer. It is free to use at the link provided. SearchProtocolHost showed up on Virus Total. I had just installed the game player from Free Ride Games. When I uninstalled search conduit from add/remove programs, SearchProtocolHost was gone from Virus Total. becomes the home page on your browsers as well as the default search engine. Basically a high-jacker / pup. Even though SearchProtocolHost is no longer showing up in VirusTotal the Microsoft version is still in my Sytem32 folder.
  Linda   (further information) (further information)
It is a Spyware, Although this application is in the original system running as SYSTEM appears, the running SPYWARE version appears as if the user had opened, that is your name (in my case MIKE) Info from: Microsoft Forum
can be accessed by third parties to remotely search a computer for any indexed file.
It slows down everything and I don't need it for searches
Christian: you see 2 copies because you're running 64-bit windows. The one in /Windows32 is to help with 64-bit apps; and the one is /SysWOW64 is for 32-bit apps ("obviously").
More comments can be found here:
    (further information)

Rating chart

Summary: Average user rating of SearchProtocolHost.exe: based on 47 votes with 9 reviews. 10 users think SearchProtocolHost.exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. 4 users think it's probably harmless. 7 users think it's neither essential nor dangerous. 11 users suspect danger. 15 users think SearchProtocolHost.exe is dangerous and recommend removing it. 6 users don't grade SearchProtocolHost.exe ("not sure about it").

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Best practices for resolving SearchProtocolHost issues

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

SearchProtocolHost.exe [all]