What is Runtimebroker.exe and What Does It Do?

If you use a Windows PC and have looked around Task Manager, you may have noticed a service called runtimebroker.exe. It runs on all Windows computers and can take up processor cycles and memory. But what is runtimebroker.exe, what does it do and can you get rid of it?

What is Runtimebroker.exe and What Does It Do?

What is runtimebroker.exe?

The runtimebroker.exe service has been with us since Windows 8 as far as I can remember. Even now with Windows 10 it remains in use all the time. The clue to what it does is in its name. It acts as a middleman, hence the broker part and monitors apps and programs, the runtime part.

Essentially what it does is keeps an eye on running apps and programs to ensure they tell you when they want to access system resources such as webcams, microphones, mail, speakers and anything that could cause privacy concerns. It watches all of these apps and checks their declared permissions, i.e. the ones they ask for like access to your browser or microphone, against what the app actually does.

For example, say you install a third-party mail app and give it permission to read your messages and access Windows Mail. The runtimebroker.exe service keeps an eye on the app to make sure it doesn’t try to access anything it shouldn’t. If it tries to access your location for instance, it will alert you through Windows notifications.

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Why does it use memory?

When in use, runtimebroker.exe should use next to zero processor cycles and only a tiny bit of RAM. On my Windows 10 PC, runtimebroker.exe uses 0% CPU and 10.7MB of RAM. Every time you open an app, the process needs a little more resources to monitor what’s going on. The more running apps you have, the more resources it needs.

Why does runtimebroker.exe cause my CPU usage to spike?

Ever since it was first introduced, runtimebroker.exe has had something of an issue managing CPU cycles. If you are using an updated version of Windows 10, you should no longer see this issue. However, if it does appear, you have a couple of options.

It seems that when you allow Windows 10 to display tips and tricks in notifications, it can cause CPU usage to spike. I don’t quite know why, just that if you turn off these tips and tricks, no more spikes appear. The feature is annoying anyway so I would always suggest turning it off. Here’s how:

  • Select Windows Settings and System.
  • Select Notifications & Actions.
  • Scroll down to ‘Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows’ and toggle it to off.

After that, if you see CPU spikes for runtimebroker.exe, you will need to work through all your running apps one by one to see which is causing the issue. Open Task Manager, highlight runtimebroker.exe, close an app and watch the CPU count. If it goes down, update the app and retest. If it doesn’t, try another. Rinse and repeat until you see no more spikes.

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Why does runtimebroker.exe use so much memory?

If you’re a Windows 8 user, runtimebroker.exe has a known issue where a memory leak happens between it and the Metro Tile Updater service. When the service runs, the runtimebroker.exe service gradually increases the memory until it begins slowing down your computer.

You can test to see which app is causing runtimebroker.exe to eat memory.

  1. Open up the Windows 8 Start menu.
  2. Right click a recently installed Metro app and select ‘Turn tile off’.
  3. Rinse and repeat until runtimebroker.exe lets go of the memory.

Once you find out which Metro app is using memory, you can leave it turned off. This should stop any further leaks.

Can I disable runtimebroker.exe?

You can disable runtimebroker.exe but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you don’t have CPU spikes or a memory leak, it is better off being left alone. Should you want to disable it, you have one option that I know of.

You will need to load your Windows computer into a Linux Live CD, mount your C: drive and delete runtimebroker.exe in WindowsSystem32. Then boot back into Windows and you should no longer see the service running. As far as I can tell from experimenting, it does not affect other Windows features or services.

What disabling will do is remove a valuable check against applications doing things they shouldn’t on your computer. While the risk is minimal if you only use brand name apps, if you play games or sideload apps, you’re putting your privacy at risk. On your own head be it!

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