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How to fix Desktop Window Manager high memory usage in Windows 10

Windows runs a number of different processes and services in the background. They’re all set to run automatically and without them, Windows 10 cannot function. These processes have to run all the time so they’re designed to be efficient and not hog a system’s resources.

Desktop Window Manager

Fix Desktop Window Manager high memory usage

Desktop Window Manager or DWM,exe as it appears in Task Manager is a critical system process that manages visual effects (animations, transitions, wallpaper) on your system. It will run all the time and should consume very little memory.

If the Desktop Window Manager process is consuming a lot of memory, try the fixes below.

1. Restart Explorer.exe

Problems with the dwm.exe process can be fixed by restarting Explorer.exe.

  1. Open Task Manager.
  2. Go to the Processes tab.
  3. Look for Windows Explorer and select it.
  4. Click the Restart button at the bottom right.

2. Check graphics driver

An outdate graphics driver can cause problems with the dwm.exe process. Likewise, if you’ve upgraded the graphics driver but there is a problem with it, it may also cause dwm.exe to use a lot of memory.

  1. Open Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display adapters.
  3. Right-click the on-board graphics card and select Update driver.
  4. Search online for driver updates and install the ones that are available.

If you’ve recently updated the graphics driver, try rolling it back.

  1. Open Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display adapters.
  3. Double-click the on-board graphics card.
  4. Go to the Driver tab.
  5. Click Roll back driver.
  6. Repeat for the GPU if you have one.

3. Scan the system with Windows Defender

A malicious app or file may be responsible for dwm.exe’s high memory usage. It’s a good idea to scan your system for infections.

  1. Open Windows Defender.
  2. Go to Virus & threat protection.
  3. Click Scan Options.
  4. Select Full Scan.
  5. Click Scan Now.
  6. Remove any infections that are found.

4. Disable third-party apps

There are lots of third-party apps that can be installed on Windows 10 to modify how it looks. Rainmeter is one popular example of such an app. If you’ve installed an app that heavily modifies the Windows 10 UI, disable it and check if the dwm.exe process’ memory usage returns to normal. If it does, the app you’re using to modify the system isn’t optimized and shouldn’t be used.

Conclusion

Animations, wallpaper, transition effects are all common OS functions. You cannot disable the dwm.exe process because without it, Windows 10 won’t look like Windows 10 anymore. You can disable animations if you want and that will reduce the memory usage but the above fixes should still be used to bring the process’ base memory usage to normal.

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