The Werfault Virus: What It Is and How to Remove It

Is it a virus or not?

A conceptual illustration of the Werfault Virus destroying a laptop computer.

Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

Sometimes, a supposed computer virus just isn't a virus. That's the case with the WerFault.exe virus, which some computer users became convinced was a threat due to Windows pop-up window warnings that the publisher could not be verified.

WerFault.exe is part of Windows operating systems. Any Windows computer could technically show the warnings discussed in this article.

What Is the WerFault.exe Virus?

Windows Error Reporting is a Microsoft service that lets the company monitor and address errors related to its products. It launches upon startup and sends reports back to Microsoft when something goes wrong. Like any .exe file, it can become corrupt at times or experience a malfunction related to the hardware connections it is designed to monitor. Very rarely, a virus can attack the WerFault.exe file but typically it is not the file itself that is a virus. In any case, people who see a WerFault.exe error often just call it a virus, hence the name.

How Does the WerFault.exe Virus Work?

Because the WerFault.exe file is involved with USB connections on your computer, any type of USB issue could be causing the warning to pop up on your system. For example, a malfunctioning mouse or keyboard connected to your computer with a USB cable could cause your computer to send you error warnings. The problem is, this warning doesn't clearly state the cause; it just tells you which file is involved. And sometimes it comes across as a security warning, which further complicates things.

These errors can occur for many reasons. Sometimes there are conflicts between applications or a file or directory is damaged. On rare occasions, though, an actual virus can indeed attack your system and cause a WerFault.exe security error to appear.

How Do I Know If I Have a Virus or Not?

You'll most often see a warning window pop up on your Windows system that states 'This publisher could not be verified. Are you sure you want to run this software?' It will include information that the warning came from C:Windows/System32/WerFault.exe and tells you again that the file doesn't have a valid digital signature so its publisher can't be verified. You'll be given the option to Run or Cancel the operation.

Other error messages you might see can include:

  • File not found: WerFault.exe
  • Cannot find file: WerFault.exe
  • Device not recognized missing WerFault.exe file

Because it is a possibility that a virus can cause the Werfault.exe file to misbehave, it's a good idea to assume you have a virus and take steps to remove it. But remember, it's not Werfault.exe itself that is a virus.

How Did I Get The WerFault.exe Virus?

Because it's not a virus in and of itself, you didn't do anything to 'get it.' The WerFault.exe file is a standard feature in Windows computers and send Microsoft information about unresponsive applications, kernel faults, and more to assist it with troubleshooting. The file can be changed for a variety of reasons, both innocent and dangerous.

If the file itself has become corrupt as the result of a virus elsewhere on your system, you could have gotten it from anywhere.

How to Get Rid of the WerFault.exe Warning

In most cases, there is nothing to get rid of. However, it's always a good idea to take proactive steps when you're not sure your system is running properly. Try the following options.

  1. Run a system scan to ensure that a virus has not actually attacked the WerFault.exe file. This scan will verify the integrity of every protected operating system file on your computer. Once the scan is complete, restart your computer and repeat whatever process caused your original problem to see if the warning window still shows up. If it doesn't, your system has been repaired. If it does, you actually might have a virus of some type. Move to the next step.

  2. If you don't have antivirus software installed yet and you're running Windows 10, open the Windows Defender Security Center. Use it to view your computer's health. If you find a virus, you can remove it if you don't have antivirus software.

  3. Install and run a strong antivirus software program. If there is a virus on your computer, this software can detect it and remove it. The process can take several hours.

  4. If none of these steps resolve the issue, you can try System Restore to return to an earlier point on your computer before you picked up the virus. Be sure to select a time period where you know you definitely didn't already have the virus on your computer.  This process will remove any files and documents you have installed since that point, so be sure you really want to do this before you attempt it.

How Can I Avoid Getting a Virus?

There are a few key ways in which you can lower your chances of being infected with a computer virus.

  • Install and update your antivirus software and malware protection regularly. New virus definitions are released often. Only current updates can keep your PC informed on what to look for in regard to new viruses or other threats like keylogger trojans
  • Block PUPs from loading. Turn on the option to detect Potentially Unwanted Programs in your antivirus software. This will help you stop sneaky programs from loading onto your system when you download otherwise legitimate programs.
  • Be careful when you download new programs. Always confirm the legitimacy of the source of the programs and apps you download. Some sites include add-ons that you don't need; that's often where adware, spyware and other malware can hide. 
  • Don't use websites suggested by pop-up ads. Viruses sometimes infect your computer through the suspicious websites you might accidentally enter. Clicking on what looks like innocent link can lead to you downloading a program you never wanted. Be careful of websites such as torrenting sites and try these tips to stop pop ups in your browser.
  • Don't click on banner ads. When a pop-up banner appears as you browse a website, resist the urge to click on it. If a website inundates you with pop-up advertisements, leave the site immediately.