What is winlogon.exe in windows 10 and how does it work

Today, in this post, we discuss one key file “winlogon.exe”, what is this, and the tasks it performs in general. As this name suggests, it is short for “Windows login“. Besides, this plays a crucial role in protecting your PCs from any unauthorized access, Network controller, etc.

Many a time, hackers attempt to phish users by sending files that bear identical names. People often confuse such files with genuine ones and fall in the trap of the fraudulent. Phishers then can easily steal people’s sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and other important stuff. Let’s learn the ways to distinguish between a genuine or corrupt file –

Winlogon.exe – A virus or system file

A few viruses indeed duplicate its name so as to avoid any antivirus scan while they steal users’ data. So, to identify them, make a right-click on the file and hit “Properties”. On the pop-up dialog, see the path next to the location. If this point to “C:\windows\system32“, this is simply a core file and is essential for Windows OS to work properly. However, if otherwise, this might be a Trojan trying to affect your PC. Usually, a malware with an identical name uses pretty high CPU resources.


What tasks winlogon.exe performs

Here are the key functions that winlogon.exe does on Windows 10 Machine –

1. Login controller

This is the prime work of winlogon.exe i.e. to control access to the login screen. It is this application that provides you an interface to put your credentials before actually signing in. While you entering the Password/PIN, this passes the information to the registry which matches with the stored information at “HKEY_CURRENT_USER”.

Moreover, if you fill in the correct password, this lets you enter inside. Otherwise, this pops in an error message – “Password is incorrect, try again”. 

2. Screen Saver Controller 

We often take a break while working on our PCs and the computer enters the “IDLE” mode. During such breaks, this controls the movements of the mouse and keyboard on the Screen saver. This terminates the idle mode the moment it finds any activity from our side and presents the login screen.

3. Desktop Protector

This also takes care of secondary peripherals or other objects attached to the computer.

4. Network Controller

While you remain connected to a LAN (local area network), winlogon.exe watches over workstation authentication carefully at the same time passing information in and out. This continuously monitors new passwords being generated or old ones being used. 

Where can one find winlogon.exe on PC

As this is an essential file responsible for keeping the login part smooth and effective, one may locate this file inside the C:\ drive. If you ever find such a file inside the Task Manager, do the right-click and select “Open File Location”.

Open File Location

The system will then redirect you to the path – “C:\windows:\system32“.

What if this is a virus

If you are sure that the file at hand is simply a virus, open Windows Security and perform a “Full Scan”. Windows Defender will take care of the remaining steps and you may see the results at “Protection history” under “Virus & Threat Protection“. There’s no need of switching to third-party anti-malware programs as Windows Security is well-equipped by Microsoft to take care of such things.