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Tips index

Disable startup services with services.msc

Warning: disabling services can prevent Windows from operating properly. Disable them at your own risk!

As mentioned in an earlier tip, Windows loads many programs in the background when it starts up. Some of these items are services. They are a special type of program that doesn't have a window and it simply provides some sort of service either to the operating system or another program.

To see the services that are available on your computer, click Start and type in services.msc then press Return. (It's easiest when logged on as an administrator and with User Account Control turned off.) Select a service and you can read a brief a description on the left. If you double click a service the Properties dialog opens and you can set the Startup type. It's a drop-down list and if the startup type is set to Disabled, the service will never run, but if the startup type is set to Automatic, Windows will automatically start it every time Windows starts.


Setting the Startup type to Manual is an interesting option and it means that the service will not be started unless a program specifically requests it. It's a safer option than completely disabling a service because if it's essential, it'll be started. If you are not sure whether you need a service, try setting the Startup type to Manual, rebooting Windiws, and then checking whether it's been started after using your PC for a while.

Nearly all services are useful and most are essential, so don't disable any unless you are absolutely sure that you know what you are doing. You may not need all the services and a few can be disabled. This will enable Windows to load more quickly and to run better because it isn't devoting time and processor cycles to doing tasks that aren't required. Before you disable a service, check the Dependencies tab in the Properties window and just make sure that nothing important depends on it.

Services you may not need:

  • Certificate Propagation: See Smart Card.
  • DFS Replication: This replicates files among multiple PCs. Useful on networks, but not stand-alone PCs.
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client: Maintains links between files across PCs on networks. Not used on stand-alone PCs, rarely on networked ones.
  • Distributed Transaction Coordinator: Used with web servers and SQL, which most people don't use.
  • Human Interface Device Access: It's used for non-standard keyboards with extra buttons and other oddball input devices. If you don't use any, you don't need it.
  • Parental controls: Only useful if you want to use Vista's parental controls.
  • Remote Registry: Allows people on other computers to edit your PC's registry. Most people don't want anyone doing this.
  • Smart Card: Used with Smart Cards - a bit like credit cards - for secure PC access. Do you use one?
  • Smart Card Removal Policy: See Smart Cards.
  • Tablet PC Input service: Used with tablet PCs, but not desktop or standard laptop PCs.
  • ReadyBoost: If you don't use USB flash memory drives to boost your RAM, you don't need it.
  • Telephony: Provides support for programs that control telephony devices like fax/modems.
  • Terminal services: Allows users to connect interactively to a remote computer. Ever done that?
  • Terminal services configuration: See Terminal services.
  • Web Client: Enables programs to create, access and modify internet based programs. Most people don't do this sort of stuff.