What is SearchProtocolHost.exe?

The .exe extension on a filename indicates an executable file. Executable files may, in some cases, harm your computer. Therefore, please read below to decide for yourself whether the SearchProtocolHost.exe on your computer is a Trojan that you should remove, or whether it is a file belonging to the Windows operating system or to a trusted application.

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SearchProtocolHost.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with SearchProtocolHost
SearchProtocolHost.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host belongs to software Microsoft Windows Operating System or Windows Search or Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host by Microsoft (

Description: SearchProtocolHost.exe is an important part of Windows, but often causes problems. The file SearchProtocolHost.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Known file sizes on Windows 8/7/XP are 184,832 bytes (38% of all occurrences), 182,784 bytes and 10 more variants. 
The program is not visible. It is a trustworthy file from Microsoft. It is not a Windows system file. Therefore the technical security rating is 11% dangerous; however you should also read the user reviews.

Recommended: Identify SearchProtocolHost.exe related errors

If SearchProtocolHost.exe is located in a subfolder of C:\Windows, the security rating is 19% dangerous. The file size is 373,760 bytes (22% of all occurrences), 184,832 bytes and 4 more variants. The program is not visible. The file is not a Windows core file. The file is a Microsoft signed file.

Important: Some malware disguises itself as SearchProtocolHost.exe, particularly when not located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the SearchProtocolHost.exe process on your PC to see if it is a threat. We recommend Security Task Manager for verifying your computer's security. This was one of the Top Download Picks of The Washington Post and PC World.


User Comments

can be accessed by third parties to remotely search a computer for any indexed file.
It slows down everything and I don't need it for searches
Christian: you see 2 copies because you're running 64-bit windows. The one in /Windows32 is to help with 64-bit apps; and the one is /SysWOW64 is for 32-bit apps ("obviously").
This file is not a virus or sypware. Is used by Windows Search service and is indexing almost everything you do. You can disable that buy going to MSconfig. However if the file is not in System32 its not an original file
I have a step to add. Even after stopping and disabling it from the Run...Services.msc window, it reasserts itself instantly in Task Manager. Therefore, in the same window, right-click on Windows Search and open Properties. Go to the Recovery tab and change the actions for the First and following failures to "Take No Action". This helped me to keep it from continually popping up.
avg detected it as a virus. i removed it and after a moment it came back!
It's for indexing files so that Windows can quickly find, when we search for keywords BUT there are many viruses triggered processes named searchhostprotocol.exe ,easy way to distinguish between them are look at the priviledge and trusted installer it will be windows if it true process otherwise it would be the user
SearchProtocolHost.exe is trustable, but i think that a virus is using its name (SearchProtocolHost.exe *32) in commandpromt. I got two, the real is in /Windows32, the other is in /SysWOW64
More comments can be found here:
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Rating chart

Summary: Average user rating of SearchProtocolHost.exe: based on 41 votes with 9 reviews. 8 users think SearchProtocolHost.exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. 4 users think it's probably harmless. 6 users think it's neither essential nor dangerous. 9 users suspect danger. 14 users think SearchProtocolHost.exe is dangerous and recommend removing it. 4 users don't grade SearchProtocolHost.exe ("not sure about it").

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Best practices for resolving SearchProtocolHost issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with SearchProtocolHost. This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using cleanmgr and sfc /scannow, uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using msconfig) and enabling Windows' Automatic Update. Always remember to perform periodic backups, or at least to set restore points.

Should you experience an actual problem, try to recall the last thing you did, or the last thing you installed before the problem appeared for the first time. Use the resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off doing a repair of your installation, or in the case of Windows 8, executing the DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the SearchProtocolHost.exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: Security Task Manager displays all running Windows tasks, including embedded hidden processes, such as keyboard and browser monitoring or Autostart entries. A unique security risk rating indicates the likelihood of the process being potential spyware, malware or a Trojan. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

SearchProtocolHost.exe [all]