What is SearchFilterHost.exe and Why is it Running?

So you opened up task manager and saw SearchFilterHost.exe running and you want to know what it is, right? You’re probably in the clear as this process isn’t normally a virus. In fact, it’s included with every copy of Windows since XP but it wasn’t heard of much until Vista. This little executable is a system service created by Microsoft that aids Windows Search functions.

Want to know more? Let’s dive in.

task manager searchfilterhost.exe view

If you take a look in Process Explorer, it doesn’t reveal much about SearchFilterHost, but it does let us know that it is a child of SearchIndexer.exe, which, we covered in a previous article. If for some reason you want to disable the service, it can be done following those instructions. SearchFilterHost.exe normally doesn’t use much memory or CPU power and is generally light on system resources, however, there have been a few rarer complaints we’ll talk about below.

process explorer

A look at netmon reveals that this process has some network activity where it contacts Microsoft and downloads data. The data transmitted is not personal, it is related to queries for help topics within Windows built-in help system and goes directly to Microsoft. This network activity can be disabled opening the Help Topics box in Windows and then into Options > Settings and unchecking the “Improve my search results by using online Help.”

help settings improved search results


Registry keys affecting SearchFilterHost are located at:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Diagnostics\Performance\Resolvers
    • Reg_Expand_SZ: SystemBinariesList
  • Also a few entries regarding network access through the firewall at:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\services\SharedAccess\Parameters\FirewallPolicy\RestrictedServices\Static\System

The process itself is located at

  • C:\Windows\System32



Some users have reported that SearchFilterHost uses a high amount of CPU usage, up to 100%,  from time to time. If you are encountering this issue there isn’t necessarily a hard fix. One user suggests setting up an image redirect for the service’s launch that will autokill it. Another suggested disabling XML indexing. Some suggest disabling Windows search, and others have had to reformat the operating system in order to fix it.

Of the cases reported, many of the time the high CPU use was related to installing a third-party decoder.


SearchFilterHost.exe is a safe process created by Microsoft. It is essential for some functions of Windows Search to properly work, however, a search is still capable of working (less fully) without it. The process doesn’t normally have a noticeable impact on system performance and shouldn’t be disabled on a whim.



  1. Brent

    My SearchFilterHost continually takes up 100% of CPU, is reported by Norton about every 10 minutes for high CPU usage, and I have never installed anything but bare bones windows 8 and MS office. It sucks and is a waste.

  2. Marc G

    What is an example of “third-party decoder”

    • udaya

      i have this question

  3. Ali

    Thank you for the Nicely detailed post. Really appreciate your work.

  4. Jay Paxton

    What is SearchFilterHost.exe and Why is it Running?

    You never said anything about an easy way to get ride of this CPU Pig.
    It would be helpful to others if you could add a sure way of deleting these files from the System32 folder on XP Windows.

    Not everybody is going to Windows 7, 8 or 10 because you have no control over your computer with those nasty OS’s.

    I feel sorry for people who are having to switch from the faithful and reliable XP OS’s.

    I value my privacy and freedom to much to allow myself to be market materiel for big corporations to data farm your every move and every existing moment, even while you sleep.

    They are trying their best to infiltrate Win XP with their data farming files like this SearchFilterHost.exe does.

    I never had any issues with my computer until just lately it took over my Windows Explorer search option and if I wanted to use it I had to use the “click here to use the search companion”.

    I own my computer and I want to have the right to go into any folder I chose and delete files and folder at my own risk and not be denied by any OS like Win, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

    Those OS’s interface, Desktops look like Win 95.
    They took parts of Win 95, 98SE, Xp and added made them so you couldn’t edit your system to to stop the invasion and data farming your personal life.

  5. Jay Paxton

    Oh..I forgot to tell you how to get rid of that trash..
    use File ASSaSSIN to delete those files.
    there’s about 4 or 5 of them, all right together.
    if you get a cant delete message don’t worry, just keep ahmmering them and soon FileASSASSIN will delete them.

    • Jack Sparrow

      Jay Paxton – you’re a tool. Take your tinfoil hat and gtfo.

  6. Yatsura

    There is no tinfoil needed anymore, since the news started talking about NSA contracts with Microsoft to observe everyones homes via X-Box-Kinect-Cameras.

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