What is KMS.exe?

The genuine KMS.exe file is a software component of Data Protector by Micro Focus.
"KMS.exe" can be a component of Micro Focus Data Protector software, a complex server and client storage backup management system which includes drive-based encryption and has a "Key Management Server" to control data encryption and decryption. Micro Focus acquired Data Protector by merging with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) Software. However, "KMS", especially in a subpath like "C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Activator_Office_14," often indicates a "KMS Emulator" which falsely "satisfies" attempts by pirated volume-licensed copies of Microsoft Office to maintain their Microsoft activation using Microsoft's "Key Management System." Microsoft's volume licensing reduces costs for businesses and universities to provide Windows and Office to employees. One KMS activation key is supplied to the client. An administrator installs that key and multiple "host license files" on a computer or server and client copies send activation requests to this "KMS host". Emulators intercept and "satisfy" these requests when there is no legitimate KMS Host to receive them.

KMS stands for Key Management Server

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 KMS.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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KMS.exe file information

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

The process known as KMS Server Emulator Service appears to belong to software KMS Server Emulator Service by My Digital Life Forums or Microsoft (

Description: KMS.exe is not essential for Windows and will often cause problems. The file KMS.exe is located in a subfolder of C:\Windows or sometimes in the C:\Windows\System32 folder (generally C:\Windows\KMS\ or C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Activator_Office_14\). Known file sizes on Windows 10/8/7/XP are 32,256 bytes (42% of all occurrences), 64,000 bytes and 5 more variants. 
The process is a service (KMS) running invisible in the background.
KMS.exe is an unknown file in the Windows folder. The program is not visible. The file is not a Windows core file. There is no file information. Therefore the technical security rating is 76% dangerous.

Recommended: Identify KMS.exe related errors

Important: Some malware also uses the file name KMS.exe, for example HKTL_KEYGEN or TROJ_GEN.R00JC0EAU17 (detected by TrendMicro), and HackTool.Win32.KMSAuto.i or not-a-virus:HEUR:RiskTool.Win32.HackKMS.gen (detected by Kaspersky). Therefore, you should check the KMS.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

One user thinks KMS.exe is dangerous and recommends removing it. One user is not sure about it.

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Best practices for resolving KMS issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with KMS. This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using 1cleanmgr and 2sfc /scannow, 3uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using 4msconfig) and enabling Windows' 5Automatic 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 6resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off repairing of your installation or, for Windows 8 and later versions, executing the 7DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the KMS.exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: ASecurity 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. BMalwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

KMS.exe [all]