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SMSS.exe pegs CPU, windows 7 32 bit

Hi, and thanks for any guidance you can offer.

I have client with a Windows 7 32 bit PC, and lately performance has plummeted

I've found that SMSS.exe is taking 100% of the CPU immediately upon startup.

I've tried to debug, but can't get anything to run,

Ideas for an approach to solving this?

Mark Litin
Mark Litin
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2 Solutions
Haresh NikumbhSr. Tech leadCommented:
This is the session manager subsystem, which is responsible for starting the user session. This process is initiated by the main system thread and is responsible for various activities, including launching the Winlogon and Win32 (Csrss.exe) processes, and setting system variables. After it has launched these processes, it waits for either Winlogon or Csrss to end. If this happens normally, the system shuts down; if it happens unexpectedly, Smss.exe causes the system to stop responding (hang).

Maybe you can run Malwarebytes anti-Malware

scan your machine with maleware byets

Adam LeinssSenior Desktop EngineerCommented:
I would start with Process Explorer (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx) and make sure the smss.exe in question is really the smss.exe provided by Microsoft and not some rogue application (you can verify digital signatures from within Process Explorer).

Does it act the same way in Safe Mode?

If he can pinpoint the date it started, you can also tap the F8 key at bootup, go into WinRE and do a System Restore to a time before the problem started happening.
Mark LitinOwnerAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all these.

It is fine in safe mode.

Did all of rest of these but verifying the digital signature.  The oldest available restore point did not precede the issues, and restore to the oldest point failed.  Oh well.

If the digital signature doesn't pan out, can I just replace it?
Adam LeinssSenior Desktop EngineerCommented:
I don't think replacing it will help.  Safe mode just loads the basic Microsoft stuff, so I'm guessing it's a 3rd party driver/application causing SMSS.EXE to peg.  I would take a look at his Program Files directory and sort by date to see if he loaded anything recently.  SMSS kicks off early in the process, so I would look at antivirus and VPN programs...anything that would normally start before user login.  You can grab Autoruns (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902.aspx) and then uncheck a few startup items and then reboot and see if SMSS acts any differently.

You can also use Process Monitor with boot logging to trace what is happening before and after SMSS loads: http://www.msigeek.com/6231/how-to-enable-system-boot-time-logging-using-process-monitor-tool.  

Oh, another thing to check: event logs.  Look for anything with red X or yellow icon.  Those are errors/warnings.
Mark LitinOwnerAuthor Commented:
Hi Takecoffee and alienss

Thank you for your great input.  Since A) the client was very anxious B) there was a recovery partition, and C) it was a relatively easy re-install, I took that route.  Thta way I was also able to become acquainted with setting up the businesses applications too.

Thanks again.
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