What is Windows Logon Application or winlogon.exe?

What is this winlogon.exe? Where is it located? Is it a virus? Why does it consume high CPU on Windows 10 at times and what you do about this? Now if you open the Windows Task Manager, you may see a process winlogon.exe. This is the Windows Logon Application, and it is a Windows operating system file located in the System32 folder.

Windows Logon Application (winlogon.exe)

Windows Logon Application or winlogon.exe

The Windows Logon Application or winlogon.exe is a crucial process for a Windows system. It runs in the background and rarely interferes with normal functioning of the system. It performs critical tasks while signing on to the system. The process helps in recognizing the exact sign-in account (for different users) and loads that user’s profile into the registry. It also manages the “secure attention sequence.” The secure attention sequence is a mechanism which mandates users to press CTRL+ALT+DEL before logging in to systems. This helps in identifying that no cyber-hacker or program is impersonating the sign-in page, thus assuring you of a safe login.

Where is winlogon.exe located

Windows Logon Application or winlogon.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder, where C: is your system drive.

Is winlogon.exe a virus

Many cyber-criminals mimic genuine system applications while creating virus or malware, so they go undetected. Thus, it is possible that some virus or malware could hold the same name as Windows Logon Application or winlogon.exe. This could be checked as follows: right-click on the task and select Open location. The original location of the Windows Logon Application task is C:\Windows\System32 (where C: is your system drive). In case it is located elsewhere it could well be malware. The best suggestion would be to run a full system anti-malware scan.

Winlogon.exe consuming high CPU

At times the process may consume high CPU or other resources. If you face this issue often, run System File Checker in Safe Mode.

Can I disable the Windows Logon Application

While I see no reason for anyone to disable the Windows Logon Application, terminating the process would crash your system. The process is critical to the system and needs to be running all the time.

End program

If you try to end the winlogon.exe process, the system will present a warning stating “Windows will cause Windows to become unusable or shut down.” If you continue despite the warning, the system will black out, and the only way to revive it would be to power it OFF and restart it.

If the system is unable to load the winlogon.exe file upon the next startup, you will get the blue screen error 0xC000021A. If you have already made the mistake, you could follow this guide to fix STOP 0XC000021A, STATUS SYSTEM PROCESS TERMINATED error.

Trust this helps!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.