What is SMSS.EXE Process, Uses & Can I Remove it?

  • Amar 
  • OS

In short, smss.exe is a utility of the Windows Operating System that assists in initiating user sessions. It is executed as soon the system startup, and since it is a core Windows process, it should never be killed or removed.

File Size and Location

Smss.exe file usually located in the C:\Windows\System32\ directory and it takes up around 152 KB of space. And the file description name mentioned in the properties is Windows Session Manager, as you can see below:

smss.exe process properties

Brief detail:

File name:Smss.exe
File description:Windows Session Manager
File type:Application
File version:10.0.19041.546
Product name:Microsoft Windows Operating Systems
File size:152 KB
File location:C:\Windows\System32
Digital signature name:Microsoft Windows Publisher
Digest algorithm:Sha256

What Does SMSS.EXE Do?

As mentioned above, the main task of the smss.exe is to run the session to execute several program on Windows Operating System. Additionally, the smss process handles a range of session tasks such as:

  1. Generate the environment variables
  2. Initiates the kernel of the Win32 system. The kernel is considered to be the core of the operating system’s processing and it has absolute control over all of its components. It handles memory, peripherals, input-output requests, etc. as well as the remaining processes of a startup.
  3. Launches the user modes of the Win32 system. The substructure includes WIN32.SYS (kernel-mode), DLL (user-mode), and CSRSS.EXE (user-mode). Substructures that are listed in the Required value of the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\SubSystems are also included in the launch.
  4. Forms DOS device mappings (e.g. CON:, NUL:, AUX:, COM1:, COM2:, COM3:, COM4:, PRN:, LPT1:, LPT2:, LPT3:, and drive letters) listed at the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\DOS Devices registry key. These mappings also assist in creating permanent SUBST drives. These drives are can be used as virtual substitutions for paths on physical and logical drives.
  5. Produces virtual memory paging files (pagefile.sys). These files make application programming a lot more streamlined by hiding fragmentation of physical memory and by providing an ideal generalization of the storage resources that are actually available on the system.
  6. Starts the WINLOGON.EXE process, i.e. the logon manager of Windows. This component’s responsibilities include managing the secure attention key, booting up the user profile at startup, and if necessary, locking the system by a screensaver.
  7. Starts up new user sessions if requested.

Once the boot process is terminated, the system initiated the shutting down the system and smss.exe also end the user session. This entire process will also end the csrss.exe and winlogon.exe process that starts as soon as the system boot up. However, if the processes do not end according to protocol, then SMSS.EXE may cause the system to hang.

Can I Remove SMSS.EXE?

Absolutely not. It is a core component of Windows OS and killing or removing smss.exe may cause damage to your system, in fact it may also not allow to boot your system.

Is it safe or is it a Virus?

The genuine SMSS.EXE not only helps your system to boot up correctly but also let me system to shut down without any issue. It is an essential component of Windows OS and it is perfectly safe.

The process usually consumes an insignificant amount of resources, so if your SMSS.EXE is consuming a lot of resources, then you might have a virus in your system. One way to make sure is to check its location using task manager. If SMSS.EXE cannot be found in its official location i.e. C:\Windows\System32\,  then you may have a virus on in your system, and it must be removed immediately.

Other similar process:

Dmclient.exe, Wsqmcons.exe, Nessusd.exe, fpCSEvtSvc.exe

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