Viruses, trojans, and malwares nowadays are occupying our computer systems like wildfire. Posing as usual computer programs and processes, it is hard to know which ones are legit and which are doing silent damage. Some are even in disguise, with names that make them look like they are core processes, further bringing in confusion to regular computer users. It’s a big sigh of relief when anti-virus and anti-malware programs find and obliterate these harmful programs. But when these digital guardians are seemingly outsmarted (I.e. computer is still slow, apps are crashing), it’s high time to manually find them.
A good starting point is in the task manager, where all the running programs, processes and services can be seen. Some processes are pretty straightforward. But others, basing on their names, do not exactly give that much of a hint; one such process is dwm.exe. A lot of users would agree that the use of mere initials as a name of an executable file is quite suspicious; however, that is not always the case. So what exactly is dwm.exe?
The Desktop Window Manager
“DWM” stands for desktop window manager, which is a composting program. It was introduced way back in Windows Vista. This process is responsible for providing real-time thumbnail previews of each open window. It also makes use of graphics acceleration to smooth out transitions and screen effects. Whenever we use “ALT + TAB” or “Windows Key + TAB”, this process is responsible for collecting the program buffer of whatever is open.
A dwm.exe crash brought by a problem due to lack of resources is highly unlikely on normal cases because the process only uses up around 10-50 MB of memory. Especially on newer computers, its presence won’t even be felt. Nonetheless, an impaired windows 7 or windows 8 experience is still possible because of DWM errors. Also, an application error or crash involving this process might lead to bigger dilemmas if not mitigated earlier.
Is DWM hogging your computer’s memory?
If you notice that this process has unusually high memory usage despite the fact that only a few programs are running, this might be because of the following:
Heavy application use – An application might be the cause of dwm.exe high cpu usage. Some email clients, video editing, games, and graphics software are the likely culprits
Corrupted software – Some software might need an upgrade or a re-install to speed up the computer system. Also, please verify if the correct video card driver is installed
Hardware – The graphics card might be having a hard time communicating with Windows, thus, resulting in the unusually high resource usage
DWM encounters an application error
Usually encountered after logging in to the computer, a dwm.exe bad image error appears. During these times, the following can be done:
- Go to Start > Control Panel > Windows UpdateLocate the following update: “KB2670838″Verify if this update failed installationIf yes, uninstall and re-install the updateRestart your PCConsider using Windows Basic Theme
If dwm is the likely culprit to the computer’s slow down, turning off some animations might have some performance improvement.
Go to Start > Control Panel > Personalization
Choose Windows Basic as the theme
Note: DWM is still running even if the switch has been made to Windows Basic theme. But since transitions and effects are turned off, it will have a positive impact, performance-wise.
There are ways to stop this process from running, both temporarily and permanently. While this is not always necessary, but if one decides toward it, here are the steps:
- Open services.mscLocate the following service: Desktop Window Manager Session ManagerTo temporarily stop the service, click on it and click on Stop. The service will start on the next login.To disable, double click Desktop Window Manager Session Manager.Change the Startup Type to Disabled. Click OK.Beyond DWM
This program is meant to improve your experience. It is those pesky viruses and malwares that corrupt and put strain on the user’s visual experience. If it becomes problematic along the way, the fixes above might help in easing things up.