Why is Device Census using the Webcam and How to Fix it?

The DeviceCensus.exe is a legitimate background Windows process that accesses and audits the system hardware (if it is still there or removed) to facilitate the Windows and drivers’ updates. The issue arises when the user gets a pop-up error message (without any user interaction) that the Device Census Using Webcam (usually, from a security suite like Kaspersky or ESET).

Device Census is Using the Webcam

Before moving on with the solutions, it will be a good idea to clean boot your PC to rule out if an application on your system is triggering the issue.

Solution 1: Update the System Drivers and Windows to the Latest Releases

The Device Census issue may emerge if the Windows and system drivers are outdated as it can create incompatibility between the both. In this context, updating the drivers (especially, the Graphics and camera drivers) and Windows to the latest build may solve the problem.

  1. Update the Windows and the system drivers to the latest releases. Also, it will be a good idea to download and install the latest drivers (especially, the Graphics and camera drivers) from the OEM website.
    Check for Windows Updates
  2. Now check if the Device Census issue is resolved.
  3. If not, then performing an offline Windows update (from the Windows Update Catalog website) solves the webcam issue.

Solution 2: Disable the Webcam Access in the Privacy Settings

Although the Device Census is a legitimate Windows process but you want to play safe, then disabling the webcam access in the privacy settings of your system may solve the problem.

  1. Right-click Windows and open Settings.
  2. Now open Privacy and click on Camera (in the left pane).
    Open Privacy in the Windows Settings
  3. Then disable the Feedback Hub option by toggling its switch to the off position and check if the Device Census issue is resolved.
    Disable the Camera Access of the Feedback Hub
  4. If not, disable the options of ‘Allow Apps to Access Your Camera’ and ‘Allow Desktop Apps to Access Your Camera’.
    Disable Allow desktop apps to access your camera setting
  5. Then, click on Change (under Camera Access on This Device) and disable it.
    Disable Camera Access in the Privacy Settings
  6. Now reboot your PC and check if the Device Census issue is resolved.

If the issue persists and your security product (like Kaspersky) provides the ability to block the webcam access in its privacy settings, then disable the camera access in the security product to check if that resolves the Device Census issue.

Solution 3: Disable the Webcam Device in the Device Manager

If disabling the webcam access in the privacy settings of your system does not do the trick for you, then disabling the webcam device in the Device Manager may block the webcam access (you may re-enable the camera whenever you have to use it and disable it afterward) and thus solve the problem.

  1. Right-click Windows and open the Device Manager.
  2. Then expand the Imaging Devices and right-click on the camera.
  3. Now select Disable Device and then confirm to disable the system’s camera.
    Disable the Camera in Device Manager
  4. Once the Camera is disabled, reboot your PC and check if the Device Census issue is resolved.

If you want to play safe, then you may have to disable the camera in the BIOS settings as well.

Solution 4: Disable the Tasks in the Task Scheduler

The repeated webcam access could be caused by a task in the Task Scheduler of your system and thus cause the issue at hand. In this scenario, disabling the task in the Task Scheduler may solve the problem.

  1. Click Windows, type: Task Scheduler, and then open it.
  2. Now, in the left pane, expand the Task Scheduler Library and then Microsoft.
  3. Then double-click Windows and select Device Information.
  4. Now, in the right pane, right-click on the Device task and select Disable.
    Disable Device Census Tasks in the Task Scheduler
  5. Then repeat the same for the Device User task and reboot your PC to check if it is clear of the Device Census issue.

Solution 5: Block the Device Census in the Firewall Settings

If disabling the camera access in the privacy settings of your system is not sufficient for your concerns, then blocking the Device Census file in the Firewall Settings of your system may solve the problem. For elucidation, we will discuss the process for the Windows Defender Firewall, you may follow the procedure as per your firewall product.

  1. Click Windows, type: Firewall, and open the Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security.
    Open Windows Defender Firewall
  2. Now select Outbound Rule (in the left pane) and click on New Rule (in the right pane).
    Create a New Outbound Rule in the Firewall
  3. Then choose the radio button of Program and click on Next.
    Select Program in New Rule Window
  4. Now click on Browse (in front of This Program Path) and steer to the following directory (copy-paste the address):
    \Windows\System32\
    Click Browse in the New Action Window
  5. Then double-click on DeviceCensus.exe and click Next.
    Add Device Census to the Firewall
  6. Now choose the radio button of Block the Connection and click on the Next button.
    Block the Device Census’s Connection
  7. Then choose all the three network profiles (i.e., Domain, Private, and Public) and click on Next.
  8. Now name the rule as per your convenience and click the Finish button.
  9. Then reboot your PC and check if the webcam is clear of the Device Census issue.

Solution 6: Delete the Device Census File

If you want to remove the Device Census file (to be safe about your privacy), then deleting the Device Census file is the only option to be 100% sure that the webcam is not accessed by the Device Census.

Warning: Advance at your own risk as deleting the OS files may cause unwanted situations/issues with your system.

  1. Right-click Windows and open Run.
  2. Now navigate to the following (copy-paste the address):
    \Windows\System32\
    Open the System32 Folder Through the Run Command Box
  3. Then right-click on the DeviceCensus.exe file and select Properties.
    Open Properties of the DeviceCensus.exe File
  4. Now steer to the Security tab and click on the Advanced button (near the bottom of the window).
    Open Advanced Security Permissions of Device Census
  5. Then click on Change (in front of Owner) and click on the Advanced button.
    Change the Ownership of Device Census
  6. Then click on the Find Now button and in the search results, double-click on your username.

    Double-click on Your Username to add it as owner
  7. Now apply your changes (till the Properties window is closed).
  8. Then, again open the DeviceCensus.exe Properties (step 3) and make sure your user account is allowed Full Control of the file.
  9. Now close the Properties window and delete the DeviceCensus.exe file (if you want to play safe, then copy the file to someplace safe, just in case…).
  10. Then empty the Recycle Bin (to make sure to remove the DeviceCensus.exe from the system) and reboot your PC.
  11. Upon reboot, hopefully, the Device Census issue is resolved.

If you are too concerned about the privacy of your system’s webcam, then you may cover the camera (and mic) with a cover (or the simple black PVC tape).

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Why is Device Census using the Webcam and How to Fix it?

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