What is msseces.exe And msmpeng.exe?

Windows 7 has a good number of new processes running in the background you might not recognize. Msseces.exe and msmpeng.exe are two of which even some of the most seasoned Windows veterans might be left questioning.  So what the heck are they?

Microsoft introduced these two processes with its recently implemented Microsoft Security Essentials security suite.  Don’t worry they aren’t viruses!  If you haven’t tried out Microsoft’s Security Essentials, then I suggest that you take a look!  It’s a free security suite that was created by Microsoft to keep viruses, malware, and spyware off of your computer.  We’ve covered it in multiple groovy articles, check them out!  For now, however, let’s take a look at these two groovy processes.

What is msseces.exe

Msseces.exe is the process used to run the graphical user interface of (MSE) Microsoft Security Essentials.  Without this process, you wouldn’t be able to adjust any of the settings in MSE, and you wouldn’t be able to see alerts from new malware threats.  If you take a look at this process in Task Manager, you’ll see the relative description of what this process does.

msseces.exe in windows 7 task manager

You can end this process, and MSE should still continue running, quietly.  You won’t be able to see any pop-up alerts if Microsoft Security Essentials finds an issue. But there isn’t any reason to end this process in the first place.  The memory footprint is rather small, and it’s an absolutely safe part of Microsoft’s free anti-virus software suite.

What is MsMpEng.exe

MsMpEng.exe may or may not always be visible as it sometimes runs as a hidden process.  MsMpEng.exe is the core process of (MSE) Microsoft Security Essentials. This process is used by both Windows Defender and by MSE, so it is a shared process.  It will always run in the background and usually doesn’t use up too much memory unless you are performing a system scan.

msmpeng.exe in windows 7 process explorer

After a careful examination using ProcessExplorer, (the app we talked about in the svchost.exe article) you can see that it originates from the file location C:Program FilesMicrosoft Security Essentials.

If this process ever closes, then msseces.exe will alert you with a warning message asking you to restart it.  You can ignore this message if you like and MsMpEng.exe will restart regardless after a short amount of time unless you have another anti-virus solution installed.

microsoft security essentials needs to be restarted notification

Part of great computer security is knowing what is running on your system at all times.  For more tips on computer security check out Mrgroove’s security guide!

Questions, Comments?  Please write your thoughts below in the comment box or join us in the many discussions in the free groovyPost community forum.



  1. Izzmo

    I have been using MSSE for a while now and it’s a pretty good scanner/detector. I’ve been across multiple websites that are trying to put things on my computer that I don’t want. When that happens a little popup box shows up and you just click on the ‘Clean’ button and poof! It’s gone.

    • MrGroove

      @Izzmo – Very nice. I’ve had the same positive experience with MSSE as well. The price is right and so far, it’s done a good job for me.

      • Izzmo

        Exactly. I actually use to run my computer without any spyware or virus protection and did just fine. I think it’s all a matter of being smart in how you use your computer.

        • tone6060

          I agree 100%. Common sense and… keeping away from pirated software and porn sites and you should never really need AV.

        • shockersh

          Well…. sure perhaps but why risk it if you can install a free AV and rest easy. All it takes is 1 keylogger and your life is all but screwed.

          Nah, would rather install a free AV protector and be 100%. Same reason why I own car insurance. Never been in an accident but…..

        • Izzmo

          Well, I was just giving an example, but some AV’s create a lot of overhead. On the contrary, MSSE does not and, like I said before, it’s pretty good.

          • MrGroove

            Agree 100% and I’m glad you brought up the point. I’ve also not ran AV on a system for a few months with no issues. In fact, when I look across ALL my systems (10+ I would guess) I’ve not had a single virus show up in the logs EVER. So yeah, I agree.

  2. lBIowa

    I have been getting a runtime error since I installed microsoft security essentials. after doing some troublshooting I found msseces is incompatible. OS is Windows 7 Professional 32 bit.

    • MrGroove

      MS Security essentials is incompatible with Windows 7? Can you elaborate?

  3. Auto Insurance In Warren

    What are you indicating, man? I know everyones got their own opinion, but really? Listen, your web log is interesting. I like the effort you put into it, especially with the vids and the pics. But, come on. Theres gotta be a better way to say this, a way that doesnt make it seem like everyone here is stupid!

    • Izzmo

      What exactly are you saying? Are you talking about the article?

      • MrGroove

        @Izzmo – No worries. This is just MASS posted BOT SPAM. I’ll nuke it later. These guys will try anything to maintain a link back to their site…..

  4. PaulW

    I’ve found that MSE tends to use as much as 100MB of RAM on RAM-starved systems (~512MB), and it will go up to 300MB on systems with lots of member (upwards of 8GB). Still better than Norton, of course, which is why I still use it, I became a convert after reading this review http://variableghz.com/2009/10/microsoft-security-essentials-mse-review/

    Sometimes on a 512MB system I will nuke MsMpEng.exe just to free up memory, but after 20-30 seconds it will actually restart itself until I nuke it 3 or 4 more times. How does it “know” to restart itself, and why does it stop if I repeatedly nuke it?

    • MrGroove

      When you nuke however, I’m guessing it goes from 300megs back to around 100mb like it originally opened?

      How does it re-open itself? I’ve probably a hidden process which watches for the msseces process to get killed. This would be pretty smart since a virus might try to kill AV on a system before infecting the system. I’m guessing this is why MS re-opens it.

      BTW – Tried that review link and the page was 404? I wrote up a review some months back here – http://is.gd/fJo7X/securityessentialsreview/

  5. Michelle

    I just recently switched to MSE from McAfee. McAfee would only take 2 to 2 1/2 hours to do a full scan/scheduled scan. I have been averaging 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 (and at times close to 5 hours) of FULL/SCHEDULED scan from MSE. Is this normal?

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