What is the Windows Logon Application (winlogon.exe)

What is the Windows Logon Application (winlogon.exe)

The Windows Logon Application (winlogon.exe), is a crucial process for the Windows Operating System.  The process runs continuously in the background on Windows.  It is required to handle important system functions.  It is highly recommended to not end the task of this process.

Windows Logon Application

Winlogon.exe is a needed process that functions as a task handler.  It handles critical tasks related to the Windows sign-in process.  To put the process’ behavior into perspective, when you first load your computer, you are met with a login screen.  The process is responsible for loading your user profile into the registry.  Each Windows user account has an account key under HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

Winlogon.exe hooks into the system and watches in the background to see if actions such as Ctrl+Alt+Delete have been pressed.  This action is known as a secure action sequence and may be required to be pressed prior to signing in, depending on the machine’s settings.  The shortcut combination will always be caught by winlogon.exe to ensure that, when signing into the desktop, other programs can’t monitor the password being typed.

Windows Logon Application

The Windows Logon Application also functions as a monitor to the keyboard and mouse activity.  It determines whether activity has taken place on your PC and decides when a screen saver should display after a predetermined period of inactivity.

Can winlogon.exe Be Disabled?

You may ask yourself, are you able to disable the process?  While it is possible through modifications of the registry, your system is reliant upon it to maintain stability.  There is no way to disable it without causing instability in your operating system which will likely result in a blue screen error.

Windows Logon Application

The process alone requires so few system resources so much so that it does not affect the performance of your computer.

If you, by chance, attempt to end the process from Task Manager, a message will appear asking if you want to end the system process.  Should you end it, your screen will go black and it will no longer respond to commands such as Ctrl+Alt+Delete.  At this point, there is no recovery during this session, therefore, you must restart your computer.

Windows will always launch he process when starting your PC.  If by chance Windows is unable to launch winlogon.exe, a critical user system process, a blue screen with an error code OxC000021A will appear.

Is winlogon.exe A Virus?

To put it simply, the winlogon.exe background process is not a virus.  It is a normal process that is always running on your system.  The real background process will always be located in the root drive where your operating is installed followed by “Windows\System32\”.  Below is an image showing the process location on a freshly installed version of Windows 10 from Microsoft.

Windows Logon Application

If, for any reason, someone was to tell you that program is a virus or contains a virus, it is a hoax.  A support technician should never tell a user that it is a virus.  Tech Support Scammers may often use this process as an example, they will claim that it is malware and needs to be removed.  Every person with Windows has this process.

If for any reason you see that the process location is anywhere outside of “Windows\System32\”, you may have a problem.  A virus or malware will camouflage itself to look like a background process to hide while using high CPU or memory.  Always check the process location.

Windows Logon Application

If you suspect your computer may in fact be infected, run Microsoft Security Essentials along with one of several highly recommended antivirus software as an attempt to locate, quarantine, and delete any malware or virus that may pose a risk to the security of your computer the contents on your hard drive.