How to stop or kill a process in Windows XP or Vista?

Don’t know how to find and delete a file in Windows XP or Windows Vista? Click here for all the information How to Find and Delete a File in Windows XP or Vista?


Why would you need to kill a process in Windows XP or Vista?

We sometimes need to stop a process to diagnose a system problem, such as removing Spyware or computer viruses. One of the easiest yet most efficient way to accomplish this is to use the built-in Task Manager in Windows XP or Windows Vista. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Press “Alt+Ctrl+Delete.”
  2. Click on “Task Manager“. You can also launch the Task Manager instantly if you press Ctrl + Shift + ESC simultaneously. This is much easier than accessing it from Ctrl + Alt + Delete or the taskbar. It works for both Windows XP or Windows Vista.
task manager
3. Select the process that you want to stop, then click on “End Task“.

It’s advised not to stop a system process. Stopping a system process can cause the computer to hang or freeze up.


Don’t know how to find and delete a file in Windows XP or Windows Vista? Click here for all the informationHow to Find and Delete a File in Windows XP or Vista?


Where is RUN in Windows Vista? Have no idea? Click the link Where is RUN in Windows Vista? and find that out!


Where is RUN in Windows 7? Click here for the full information Where is RUN in Windows 7?


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  1. Hector says:

    Yeah task manager is blocked from running so this is useless.

  2. Steve says:

    I just got off the phone with my granddaughter who managed to get infected with sysguard.As mentioned earlier, she is unable to run her task manager or regedit.


    By rebooting in safe mode I was able to talk her through regedit and get rid of most of the bad stuff. She can now get on the internet and do a few things, but it’s pretty slow. She’ll be bringing me her laptop later this afternoon so I can do some hands on repair. I’ve been working (professionally) with Windows ever since the early MSDOS days, so I’ll notice things that your average user won’t see.

    She’s running Vista Home Basic and Firefox (not sure what version). A good starting place for XP/Vista/Firefox users is to reboot in ‘Safe mode with networking’ and start Firefox in safe mode (start->programs->Mozilla Firefox->Safe mode). I can’t guarantee this, but since booting in safe mode bypassed sysguard, taking these steps should allow you to get to a number of websites that explain how to remove it.

    A word of warning.. If you can’t find a free utility that removes this (most freebies will detect, but not remove malware) you’ll have to do it manually, which requires running regedit. If regedit scares you PLEASE get help from somebody who knows what they’re doing.

    Good Luck!

  3. missunderstood says:

    ok so three days ago i get these pops up from Vista Antispywear 2010 that will NOT stop coming up every few minutes. everything was fine on my computer till these arrived and since i have not been able to run usual tasks on my computer. Im sure these pop up and warnings are just tactics to make me freak out and buy their product. that or run me down to death with these pop ups. i cant find where i can delete it and i need to get rid of this ASAP. can anyone pleeeassee help me?

  4. I says:

    system restore is a good method in removing the virus (:
    hope it helps!

  5. Adina says:

    Ummm i tried to open it…but the stupid Security Tool isn’t allowing me to open it…So what do I do now..?

  6. Dami says:

    Anyone who publish these programs “xp antispyware 2010” should be taken to court.

  7. Val says:

    Hi, stupid XP Antispyware 2010 has hacked my computer. It won’t allow me to go on the internet. I tried ending the process thing but that didn’t work annd i have no idea how to search for its files to delete them. I restored my computer which made things worse because now my desktop has dissappeared and i have no toolbar. Can anyone help? please

  8. Chase cresap says:

    Roblox isn’t a virus. It’s s game. Dummy.

  9. Ernie says:

    Just start your computer in safe mode (f8) and from there do system restore – try to restore your computer to the earliest day before you got the virus and it will work. from there just run any of your spyware antivirus to scan/clean your computer.
    I have just done it and my computer is back to normal

  10. Casey says:

    Follow what “das” says, but also when you show hidden files, uncheck “hide protected operating system files” as av.exe is posing as an operating system file to avoid detection. KICK THIS THINGS ASS

  11. Mr Dolinicola says:

    For virus removal purpose, use this options..

    Goto Start > Run > cmd.exe and Enter.
    Type “taskkill /f /im “msa.exe” and Enter

    This is better than using Task Manager.

    *Replace “msa.exe” with the one that you want to kill the process.

  12. Trisha says:

    Please help me!!! I just cant get rid of ST, and im not that computer savy… it is so frustrating….

  13. MikeNZ says:

    “XP ANTISPYWARE 2010” SUCCESS – Thanks to Doc DM, (May 20, 2009). As with the rest of you I was driven almost nuts by this thing. One thing that made me suspicious of the offer was that they had a wrongly spelled word in their heading! Very unprofessional. Enough said!
    Following Doc DM’s instructions I clicked “Start > All programs > System tools > System Restore” and followed the instructions from there. My last restore date was 7 days back so I ran that and bingo! – no more malicious virus. Brilliant, Doc. Thank you so much!

  14. Kevin Gregg says:

    God bless you, Anthony Quinn! Your remedy sure worked for me. May good karma abound upon thee.

  15. vealham says:

    XP Smart Security 2010 is diabolical.
    Can anyone help? I went in under safe mode and did the system restore to a point before the virus arrived but it did not work.
    I can only get onto the internet under my wife’s username. Downloading Spyhunter or any other detection utility is not allowed unless I am logged on as Administrator, and under Administrator I cannot access the internet. So I’m stuck in a sinister loop. I performed a full scan, which takes hours, and it found zero infected files, which cannot be true. I’m ready to throw this computer into the ocean (i.e., recycle it) and go live in a cave.
    Please help me, OB1 Kinobee, you’re my only hope.

  16. Tyler says:

    umm, yea, the virus blocks my task manager too…

  17. Necia says:

    yep, can’t do the task manager thing, either. Security Tool keeps blocking it. Any other way to stop the ST processes so you can get in and clean it up?

  18. Bobbi McGee says:

    I have been fighting with Security Tool for the past 16 hours, I have tried everything to get rid of it nothing is working and the program will not allow me to open system restore or task manager. If anyone has ANY other options I am all ears PLEASE PLEASE help me!

  19. harry says:

    dear god in heaven i would like to get my hands around the necks of the filthy rotten swine who infected my life with this xp smart security plague…please someone stop me from tracking the culprits down and committing mass murder and tell me how i can get rid of it!

  20. Sparrow says:

    Please help me get rid of this thing! System restore is not working!!

  21. Emjay says:

    Hello Doc. You are a genuine hero! I followed your instructions and got rid of the bugger that infected my computer. May the Gods of all Religions bless you with a great day. You have done the deserving good deed in my opinion.

  22. Missdaisies says:

    I have the antivirus virus now on 2 laptops thanks to my son and youtube, did a system restore on one in safe mode and the whole thing crashed so the computer wont even start up, the other laptop wont even load up in safe mode and nothing will open, marvelous, will keep looking on her for help but at the mo nothing works, may the maker of this virus have a painful life …….

  23. Larry says:

    How can I get rid of the Trojan-Banker virus? Can I do it or should I get a professional to do it? If it is relatively simple I may be able to do it. Let me know. Thanks.

  24. Sheri says:

    I don’t know which virus I have on my computer. One day it just stopped working. I turned it on and it keeps saying “Windows Explorer has stopped working and will restart” but it never does. There are no icons on my desktop, I can’t get to the start menu, and task manager will come up but will not let me end any processes. I can, however, use it to go to the internet, but not any files or programs associated with windows. Also, safe mode does the same thing and it won’t let me do a system restore. Is there any help for me besides a full system recovery using the disks, which by the way I don’t have.

  25. Eli says:

    this is the third time ive had this virus, the first time i fell for it, the second tim i just didnt go on my computer for weeks and it just disapeared.

  26. john albrecht says:

    The first step of deleting the malware processes is to use task manager to find and kill those processes. but the malware prevents task manager from running giving a bogus message about how it was infected.
    So how can i kill those processes another way that can go around the block they have on task manager?
    I cant even download spyware removal since they also have blocked IE, Firefox and Chrome.
    Im really up a creek here. I have removed viruses before but I am stuck. 🙁

  27. Bjorn says:

    Just experienced same shit as john a. I can’t even open the computer in safe mode.

  28. james says:

    some how i got a thing called antispywaregaurde on my computer it stoped me from using the internet connection and from using task manerger i went though the system try to find the software to delete it and i could not find it anywhere in the end after many hour of getting annoyed i found it hidden calling itself as another name was a basterd to get rid of but i still coannot use internet explorer i can still use google chrome though and task manerger and it is trying to attack my other propper virus protection program, avast realy dont know what to do know.

  29. julesnac says:

    I have same prob as john. think smart won’t let me do ctrl alt del to open task manager. i have no way to get to these files or ie or anthing!!! help!!!

  30. kc says:

    Mr Dolinicola’s comment was the only thing that saved me from a virus… I located the file but it wouldn’t allow me to delete it, and I couldn’t kill the process because it blocked task manager. None of the manual removal methods I found online helped, because the virus would block those too. Once I used Mr Dolinicola’s technique to kill the process, I was allowed to delete the file and my computer is virus-free.

  31. Bhina says:

    When I try and bring up the internet, or even the task manager to delete this virus, it just brings up the warning sign at the bottom
    I can’t do anything to stop it
    Help please

  32. Me says:

    Which has been saved at… Where excactly is this file?

  33. George says:

    To kill the process, go to the task manager. When you see the Win 7 Home Security 2011 task running, right-click to find “go to process” and click. You will be taken to the ‘processes’ section and the process running the Win 7 Home Security 2011, right click and stop or end the process.
    You have to do this first before anything else.
    In most cases, if you’ve killed the process, you can at least get your malware software to properly perform a scan without the virus interfering.

  34. Al Sacco says:

    Alt-ctr-delete does not work with the “windows power expansion” virus on a VISTA system. In fact the virus disables the “task manager” from opening. That had been my experience in the last 2-3 days.

  35. Rachel says:

    I need help on how to remove the popping up window. And I use cntl+alt+del, nothing up. Really need help.

  36. Roger says:

    THANKS Anthony Quin, I have read for 2 days how to get rid of the Windows Stability Center and at last I found your post on using the system restore and it was fixed in about 15 min

  37. Mr Spock says:

    …this doesn’t ALWAYS work. Sometimes, a person can enter this command MULTIPLE times–only to have the process CONTINUE to “run!!!!”

  38. rit says:

    make sure your anti virus is upto date
    and download malwarebytes and superantispyware
    also couldn’t hurt to have
    spybot search and destroy
    they should fix almost every problem
    also download spyware blaster
    if you still have problems
    run in safe mode by rebooting and pressing f8 while is /before it loads and run as admin
    if they find anything that looks bad quarinte it and reboot and scan again
    also fake antiviruses programs that fix em and tdss killer can save u
    then all should be sweet…

    had my problems in the past and have done my research too much
    but lately the computer shop had problems fixing my computer as files were moved and hidden and still are bustards took em 5 -6 days when they normally take 1-2
    looks like Im doing a clean install, grrrrrr
    cheers Richo

  39. David says:

    Ya I know of this. The thing is I tried to download a game. And my computer said was not able to do so. Then i was left with a file that says downloading…… NOW it will not display in the window for there is no box that says it’s downloading. It’s trying to download but it can’t go forth from there. So I’m stuck with 3gs on of nothing or restart (maybe, and I just powerd the damn thing on) If not go into safe mode……..

  40. abacab says:

    I like this forum.

  41. Thanks for the good writeup. It in reality used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance complex to far brought agreeable from you! By the way, how can we be in contact?

  42. Captain Obvious says:

    Solution: Get a Mac, they don’t get viruses.

  43. teresa says:

    I am running an Acer Aspire on Windows Vista. I am using Google Chrome but am having many problems freezing up. I have to reboot often & I mean a hard reboot. I am not able to quit Google Chrome from my task manager. I can end process all day but it never closes & as long as it is open I can not open another browser. I have no choice but turn my pc off & back on. Please help !

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