What is devicecensus.exe on Windows 10 and why does it need Internet connectivity?
If you are using a firewall on your Windows 10 PCs and have configured the protective layer to inform you about new processes that try to establish outbound connections, you may have noticed that a program called devicecensus.exe attempting to establish a connection regularly.
I noticed the process on a Windows 10 version 1809 machine. The process would try to establish an Internet connection shortly after startup.
A few questions may come to mind:
- Is devicecensus.exe a legitimate process?
- Why does it require Internet connectivity?
- Is it related to Telemetry?
- What kind of information is it transmitting?
What is devicecensus.exe on Windows 10?
The program devicecensus.exe is a legitimate Windows file provided that it is signed by Microsoft and found in the folder C:\Windows\System32 (the Windows installation location may vary depending on how this was set up during installation).
Users or system administrators cannot delete or rename the file in the location.
The process is started by a scheduled task that is run once per day. The task was set to run at 3:00 AM every day and by custom triggers as well on a test machine running Windows 10 version 1809.
You may check the task in the following way:
- Open the Start Menu.
- Type Task Scheduler and load the result once search results are displayed.
- Go to Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Device Information
- There you should find a single task called Device.
If you check under the Actions tab, you will find devicecensus.exe listed there as the action.
Tip: system administrators may right-click on the task and select disable to turn it off.
The process appears to have been a part of Windows 10 for some releases including Windows 10 version 1803 and 1809. It caused several issues in the past that Windows users reported including:
- Trying to access the webcam of the system.
- Reliability History reporting it as stopped working regularly.
A Microsoft support agent provided the following information in June 2017 about devicecensus,exe on the company's Microsoft Answers support forum:
In order to target builds to your machine, we need to know a few important things:
- - OS type (home, pro, enterprise, etc.)
- - region
- - language
- - x86 or x64
- - selected Insider ring
- - (etc)
This is the background process that runs to check your machine and tell us which build we should send to you. :)
The process submits information about the operating system to Microsoft and Microsoft stated that the information is used to target builds.
Is devicecensus.exe needed to use Windows Update?
Microsoft stated that it uses the information to target builds to systems. Does it mean that systems won't receive updates when you disable the task from running or block it from connecting to the Internet?
To find out, I uninstalled the latest cumulative update that was installed on the system. I fired up Windows Update after the required restart and the update was offered to the system when I did so.
I did not test if devicecensus.exe is required for feature updates or Windows Insider builds. It is possible that Microsoft uses it for these but it is easy enough to enable the task again for that or use third-party means to install the latest feature updates on Windows 10 PCs without using Windows Update at all.
Recommendation: Disable the task or block the outbound connection of the devicecensus.exe task.
Now You: What is your take on the task?Advertisement