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What is RuntimeBroker.exe and Why is it Running?

If you’re going through Task Manager on a Windows 8 machine, you’ve probably seen RuntimeBroker.exe running in the background. Is it safe? Is it a virus? Good news, the Runtime Broker process was created by Microsoft and is a core process in Windows 8. Would you like to know more? Read on.

RuntimeBroker.exe running in the Windows 8 Task Manager

If you’ve just logged into Windows 8 and haven’t run any apps yet, you probably won’t see RuntimeBroker.exe running yet. RuntimeBroker.exe is triggered by metro apps, and if the process is ended all currently open Metro apps will immediately fully close.

So what does it do? Well, the Runtime Broker is responsible for checking if a Metro app is declaring all of its permissions (like accessing your Photos) and informing the user whether or not its being allowed. In particular it is interesting to see how it functions when paired with access to hardware, such as an app’s ability to take webcam snapshots. Think of it as the middleman between your apps and your privacy/security.

A quick look through the strings of the process shows the Microsoft definition of Runtimebroker.exe to be part of “Processes for Windows Partial Trust Components.” Most of its related registry entries and the process itself can be found at:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsRuntime
  • C:\Windows\System32\RuntimeBroker.exe

Memory Leaks

Shortly after the OEM release of Windows 8 users began reporting memory leaks associated with RuntimeBroker.exe. The result of these leaks is a huge drain on physical system resources that could cause RuntimeBroker to use several gigs of memory. These leaks are generally associated with third party apps which implement a Live Tile update function called “TileUpdater.GetScheduledTileNotifications.” When the tile update is ran, Windows 8 sends the request, but never actually releases the memory associated with the function. Note that each update call uses a small amount of memory, however the effect snowballs as requests are repeatedly sent in over time and the memory is never reallocated. To fix this requires the developer of the app to change how the Live Tile updates work for the particular app with the leak. As an end-user, the only option is to avoid using any apps with such memory leaks, and wait for them to be updated.

Conclusion

RuntimeBroker.exe is a safe Microsoft process included in Windows 8 to assist with Metro app permissions. With a light system footprint of less than 3,000 k of RAM being used. You’re not gong to see a performance hit from this process running in the background. This process should be left alone unless you are looking for a quick way to shut down all of your Metro apps.

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9 Responses to What is RuntimeBroker.exe and Why is it Running?

  1. gsmohor October 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Man, good article, but in my Notebook, the RuntimeBroker is consuming 1,5 GB of RAM. I’m not kidding! And I have only opened the Music App. After closed it, still running with 1,5 GB of RAM. Does anybody there have seen this?

  2. yagami October 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Mine is using 1.3GB of ram as well, any idea what is going wrong with it???

  3. Tarkus October 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Just did a search, because mine was using up all 2 GB on one system, and about 5 of 8 GB on another system. I suspect one of my Metro background apps is the cause. Gonna have to do some troubleshooting…

  4. Dare Dill October 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Same here, it’s currently using 1.1GB. I noticed the longer my pc is on the higher it goes.

    • Tarkus October 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      I discovered my problem was being caused by “The Time” app. I’ve been in contact with the developer, and he’s looking into it. If you’re not using that app, check your other apps that are allowed to run in the background when not open.

      • Dare Dill November 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

        Wow thanks, I do have The Time app.

        • Cori Haws January 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

          ME too.

          • raptor1jec March 27, 2013 at 10:50 am #

            Yes the memory hog is caused by Metro apps which do not properly release their memory footprint. The Time supposedly fixed the issue however.

  5. bifurcatedpanda October 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Microsoft just began offering an update that deals with this.

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