How to fix high CPU usage by dwm.exe on Windows 10?

by Lucia Danes - -


Issue: How to fix high CPU usage by dwm.exe on Windows 10?

When I try to log on to my computer, I get the error saying: “dwm.exe was unable to start correctly.” If I click OK or X button, the message disappears, but the Windows screen remains gray, so I have to force it to restart. Sometimes after several restarts the system boots up normally, but the next time I turn off my PC and want to turn it on, the same error message appears and I keep struggling with forced restarts again. Please tell me what should I do to fix this?

Solved Answer

fix high system's resource consumption by dwm.exe

Many people have reported about a dwm.exe file running a process in Task Manager and eating up CPU memory. The resource consumption is usually higher than 30% and changes continuously. The strange and unusual indicators raise people’s suspicions about a PC being infected with virus or malware. The problem is that system’s scan with a professional anti-virus do not show any threats. If you have noticed such activity on your system, don’t fall for panic because the dwm.exe process is seldom related to a virus. Dwm.exe is legitimate Windows file, which is also known as Desktop Window Manager (DWM). It belongs to the desktop graphical user interface and is responsible graphical effects. Just like any other Windows file, the dwm.exe file can go corrupt due to various reasons the most common of which are:

  • Third-party anti-virus;
  • Explorer.exe process;
  • Problematic Windows services;
  • mdi264.dll service;
  • Graphics card drivers.

Indeed, there might be other reasons, so if none of the fixes provided below help, please let us know so that we could readdress the issue.

How to fix dwm.exe error on Windows 10?

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As a starting point, try to fix high CPU usage by dwm.exe with the help of ReimageMac Washing Machine X9. This tool will initiate all required system’s clearing processes, including malware/virus removal. If full PC’s optimization did not help, then try to perform the following fixes:

Method 1. Disable anti-virus and stop Windows Firewall temporarily

Windows Firewall, third-party anti-virus, and Windows services quite often tend to collide, which is we would recommend you to disable third-party anti-virus if you are using one and stop Windows Firewall (temporarily).

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Locate your anti-virus on the Services tab, right-click it, and select End Task.
  3. Then find the icon of the anti-virus on the toolbar, click it, and select Disable.
  4. Once done, click Windows key + X and select Control Panel.
  5. Locate Windows Firewall and click it.
  6. Press Turn Windows Firewall On or Off option.
  7. If required, enter your administrator password and press OK.
  8. Then set Windows Firewall off of both private and public network.
  9. Click OK to save the changes and close everything.

Method 2. Restart explorer.exe process

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and open Task Manager.
  2. Open Details tab and find explorer.exe process.
  3. Right-click it and select End Task.
  4. Once done, open File -> Run a new task.
  5. Type explorer and press OK.

Method 3. Check for mdi264.dll process

If you find the mdi264.dll file is running a process in Task Manager, it might be that it’s the culprit of the dwm.exe error. To fix that, you should delete this file by following these steps:

  1. Right-click on Windows key and select Command Prompt (Admin);
  2. Type  the following command and press Enter after each;
    del mdi264.dll
  3. Once done, close everything and reboot your PC.

Method 4. Perform a clean boot

  1. Click Windows key and type msconfig.
  2. Click System Configuration and open Services tab.
  3. Mark Hide all Microsoft services box and select Disable all.
  4. Open Startup tab and click Open Task Manager.
  5. Click on each startup item and select Disable.
  6. Close Task Manager and click OK on the System Configuration window.
  7. Reboot the system.

The clean boot will help you to isolate the software or services that are triggering the dwm.exe error.

Method 5. Install the previous version of graphic card drivers

Sometimes the dwm.exe error occurs after upgrading system’s drivers. In this case, it might be that the new Nvidia driver’s version is not compatible with your operating system, which is why we recommend installing the earlier version.

  1. Press Windows key + X and select Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display Adapters and right-click on Nvidia driver.
  3. Select Update Driver Software and wait for the process to end up.
  4. If the update did not solve the problem, then navigate to the manufacturer’s website and install the previous version manually. By the way, don’t forget to remove the newer version via Device Manager before that.  

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About the author
Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Security researcher

Lucia Danes is the news editor at UGetFix. She is always on the move because the eager for knowledge makes her travel around the globe and attend InfoSec events and conferences.

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