What is MSHTA.EXE?

It seems that a lot of people are seeing an error message naming MSHTA.exe as the source of some kind of problem. Sometimes it’s picked up by a firewall program and other times an antivirus program will trigger the error. So what is MSHTA and what does it do?

There’s a particularly popular topic in our forums that deals with this subject, but since not everyone will read that post I thought it might be helpful to write a little article about it.

To begin with, MSHTA.exe is an interpreter for the Microsoft Scripting Host, which allows scripts to run in Windows. It is a part of the operating system and should never be removed; it is not a virus or a trojan horse, but it can be used by viruses to cause damage to your software and data. If your firewall or antivirus software is warning you that MSHTA.exe is trying to connect to the Internet, there could be a problem.

The first thing you should do in this instance is update your virus definitions in your antivirus program (you DO have an antivirus program, right?) and scan all of the files on your hard drive. If no viruses or trojans are found, then you may be running spyware or adware that is trying to send information to a website. To check for spyware on your system, download Ad-Aware from Lavasoft USA, a free program that detects and notifies you of such programs.

If you’re still seeing error messages that show that MSHTA.exe is at fault, it’s possible that some of the files on your computer may be out of date. Try running Windows Update from the Start Menu, which should update any parts of your operating system that need to be brought current. If that doesn’t work, Microsoft has a solution in the form of the Internet Explorer Repair Tool.

As always, you can visit our forums if you run into problems that you can’t solve on your own.

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