Windows 7 Services Explained

Notes

  • Yea, it’s not really a 5 minute guide, as there are 40 odd services here. But it should allow you to browse through it and decide what you feel comfortable disabling.
  • List includes those services that are set to Automatic that you can consider turning off. This should allow for the most ‘bang for the buck’ when tweaking. Descriptions and prereqs are given.
  • My configurations are not guaranteed to work with every computer, nor to do everything you want. Read the descriptions and make decisions based on your needs. What I find useless, you may not.
  • ‘*’ denotes that the process cannot be stopped, or changed from ‘Automatic’ setting
  • Automatic (DS) = Automatic (Delayed Start)
  • .reg scripts for all these configurations are available here
  • Any suggestions, corrections, comments? Go to the detail page, and drop a comment.

Disclaimer: Use this site at your own risk. I am not responsible for damage to your computer, or anything else. This list may change at any time.

Default: For space considerations, default shows Ultimate settings. For a full list of all defaults, check out the full services list.
Safe: Services that do not affect the user experience in any way. You should not even notice a difference when using these settings, but it is possible. Disables unnecessary services.
Tweaked: Many heavy and most likely unused services have been disabled. This is much lighter than ‘Safe’. Aero disabled, but Themes left alone, as many people will blindly run this without reading what services are gone, and will be surprised/angry to see themes disappear.
Minimal: All services that are not necessary to every day use and windows update have been disabled. Themes is disabled, Aero is disabled, firewall disabled. This assumes you have your OWN firewall/AV software installed!
 
Service Default ‘Safe’ Tweaked Minimal

Application Experience
Description:
Application compatibility. Essentially a database of 3rd party apps that Microsoft maintains to automatically apply proper settings to get well known programs with issues to run without user intervention (running in compatibility mode)

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Manual Disabled

Background Intelligent Transfer Service
Description:
BITS is essentially a download manager. It allows for downloads to be resumed later, and is fault tolerant. Windows Update uses this. If you disable it and run Windows update, it will automatically be set to Automatic (Delayed Start). Used for asynchronous downloading of Windows Updates.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC), COM+ Event System

Required for:
NA

Automatic (DS) Automatic (DS) Manual Manual

Base Filtering System
Description:
Managed firewall filtering. Even if you use a 3rd party firewall, you will probably want this service set to automatic, as it does more than just firewall filtering. It can be disabled, but your computer will be less secure.

Consequences of Stopping:
Windows firewall will not run as ‘secure’
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
Routing and Remote Access, Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), IPsec Policy Agent, IKE and AuthIP Ipsec Keying Modules, Windows Firewall

Automatic Automatic Automatic Disabled

COM+ Event System
Description:
I actually cannot name any real applications that make use of this service, but it is an event model that passes information between processes.

Consequences of Stopping:
Background Intelligent Transfer Service depends on this which is required by Windows Update.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
Background Intelligent Transfer Service, DFS Replication, COM+ System Application, System Event Notification Service

Automatic Manual Manual Manual

Computer Browser
Description:
Keeps list of computers on local network. Not needed if you don?t have other computers to connect to. You can still connect to other computers with this service disabled. If you use file/printer sharing often, you will probably want to leave this on at least manual.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Workstation, Server

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Cryptographic Services
Description:
Checks signed software and manages Root Certificates, etc. Windows Update will automatically set this to manual if you run it even if disabled. Needed for checking for signed drivers, etc.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Manual Manual

Desktop Window Manager Session Manager
Description:
This is the main fancy processor for Aero fancy bits. It is one of the heavier background services, and pretty consistantly uses CPU power. Expect several % of CPU power to be used at all times. Some may find it worth the resources.

Consequences of Stopping:
Will free up system resources, but you will lose prettiness.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

DFS Replication
Description:
DFS Replication can be used to keep files synchronized across multiple computers on a network. It is a rather nice feature, but it is unlikely that many users know of it or will take advantage of it. It is set to Automatic for Ultimate, but can be safely set to manual or even disabled if you do not use it.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC), COM+ Event System

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Diagnostic Policy Service
Description:
Annoying app that verifies all your programs installed correctly. Well that is just my take on it. It is a collection of diagnostic tools that attempts to detect problems in memory, disk, and files.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Distributed Link Tracking Client
Description:
The Distributed Link Tracking Client maintains links across network. It keeps track of files’ locations even if the file has been moved. Seems like a lot of overhead if you move stuff around, and safe to disable.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

DNS Client
Description:
The DNS Client service is not needed to connect to the internet. It is used for DNS client lookup caching. However, browsers already have DNS caching built into them. Some people have mentioned that this will slow down your browsing experience as you will have to re-retrieve DNS entries for all web requests, but I find that 2 levels of caching the same data is a bit silly, as the browsers can manage this on their own. You can up your DNS browser cache from within firefox (and probably IE), or use an extension such as FasterFox which ups it by default (if memory serves).

Consequences of Stopping:
If disabled DNS names will continue to be resolved but they won’t be cached. Your internet will continue to work just fine. Can slow down browsing, hypothetically, but I have seen no difference in network speeds. Also some ipconfig commands will complain about errors (as there is no cache to clear)
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Function Discovery Resource Publication
Description:
Publishes your computer resources over the network.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

IKE and AuthIP Ipsec Keying Modules
Description:
If you need IKE. Leave it alone, but not really needed. Used for some VPN software.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Base Filtering System

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

IP Helper
Description:
IPV6 support. Useful when that gets running but for now useless, as I am unaware of any locations that actually use IPV6. No idea why Microsoft chose to have it running at all time, but whatever.

Consequences of Stopping:
Well, if IPV6 starts being used, it probably won’t work for you until you re-enable this service
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Windows Management Instrumentation, Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Network Store Interface Service

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

IPsec Policy Agent
Description:
Required if internet provider requires it. I do not believe that many do, but some organizations might, so ask around. Or, disable it and test network connectivity.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Base Filtering System

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator
Description:
connection between MSDTC and KTM

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Security Accounts Manager

Required for:
NA

Automatic (DS) Automatic (DS) Disabled Disabled

Network Location Awareness
Description:
Stores information on network information and notifies programs when it changes. Utilized by Windows Firewall, but not required for its use.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Network Store Interface Service

Required for:
Network List Service

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Offline Files
Description:
Maintains offline file cache

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Disabled Disabled Disabled

Portable Device Enumerator Service
Description:
Manages removable storage devices to interface with WMP and image import. May be needed for MP3 players and Digital Cameras

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Print Spooler
Description:
Same as always. Handles spooling of printer. If you disable it you will still be able to print but will need to always wait for print to complete to continue work. If you only print like one thing a month, or less, then there is no reason for this to constantly be taking up memory on your computer. However, I have chosen to recommend this to Automatic even for ‘tweak’ because it will cause your system to behave different than you are used to if you have never disabled this service, and many ‘tweak’ users will just go ahead and follow the recommendation without reading the warning.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
Fax

Automatic Automatic Automatic Disabled

Program Compatibility Assistant Service
Description:
Compatibility with old windows software, I am guessing? I havn’t seen any compatibility issues yet, and I have run several DOS,win95, and XP apps.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Manual Disabled

Secondary Logon
Description:
Support for secondary logon. Needed for some applications that need to run under a secondary logon account. Postgres comes to mind. Think of it as Window’s version of su, except in Windows, you usually run yourself as an administrator all the time anyway.

Consequences of Stopping:
Programs utilizing secondary logon will fail to load. If you have security set high, and someone on a non-admin account wants to do something that requires admin privs, you will need to log them out and log in, instead of just using runas.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Security Center
Description:
That annoying little tray app that tells you when your computer isn’t secure . If you disable this you need to take additional steps to keep it from annoying you

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Windows Management Instrumentation, Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic (DS) Automatic (DS) Manual Disabled

Server
Description:
File/Print Sharing

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Security Accounts Manager

Required for:
Computer Browser

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled
Service Default ‘Safe’ Tweaked Minimal

Shell Hardware Detection
Description:
Autoplay notifications, etc. Sometimes, I am annoyed by the autoplay detections, and would rather just go access it directly from my computer or wherever. If you enjoy these popups/functionaly, leave it on automatic.

Consequences of Stopping:
When you insert a CD, flash drives, etc, Windows will not come up with a dialog asking you how to open it/automatically open it
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Superfetch
Description:
This service prioritizes user applications over background services. Great if you are running a desktop. Not great if you are running a server, and it puts higher priority on your ‘desktop experience’ while starving the background server apps you want to give priority to. It preloads applications that you most often use into memory as well, so it might end up using quite a bit of memory. I will get around to doing some in depth tests on this service later.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

System Event Notification Service
Description:
Notifies COM+ events to other applications. I have seen no downside to not running this.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
COM+ Event System

Required for:
COM+ System Application

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Tablet PC Input Service
Description:
Unless you have a tablet PC.. Why does MS feel it necessary to set this to Automatic?

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Plug and Play, Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
Description:
NetBIOS support. Most likely you don’t need this unless you know otherwise

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Terminal Services
Description:
Allows users to log in to this computer. Not required to make outward connections with Remote Desktop. It may be required to use the new Vista features of terminal services, which allows you to run remote programs without being ‘conscious’ of the use, as it will run in your own desktop, rather than through a Window. I will get around to investigating this further…

Consequences of Stopping:
I believe that Terminal Services to a computer are disabled by default, unless you set it up, so I am unsure why this process needs to be running at all times.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
Windows Media Center Extender Service, Terminal Services UserMode Port Redirector

Automatic Automatic Manual Disabled

Themes
Description:
I rather like the new fancy windows views. But it’s pretty heavy so make the decision yourself. Without it sidebar still works only without fancy transparency. Disabling it will default you to the classic Windows theme.

Consequences of Stopping:
You will be unable to use themes. It will default back to the old Windows classic look and feel.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

UPnP Device Host
Description:
UPnP support. Plug and Play devices over your network. Let your computer get notified that your toast is ready! It was introduced for XP, but as far as I have heard, it has not caught on.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
SSDP Discovery

Required for:
Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

WebClient
Description:
Allows your programs to modify internet files via windows. I have not found any programs that use this (FrontPage maybe?).

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Windows Defender
Description:
Windows spyware and virus protection all in one. Features monitoring of Registry and on access scans.

Consequences of Stopping:
If you disable this you will need to disable it in the control panel, or else it will nag you every time you boot up that it cannot start. Disabling this means you will not have any automatic spyware searching, unless you install your own
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Windows Error Reporting Service
Description:
Error reporting.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Manual Disabled Disabled

Windows Firewall
Description:
Microsoft’s included firewall.

Consequences of Stopping:
Disable it only if you have your own firewall. It offers you security from many forms of online attack. It’s probably not the best firewall in the world, and won’t protect you from everything, however, it is much safer than running without.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Base Filtering System

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Windows Management Instrumentation
Description:
If stopped, most windows-based software will not function properly’. I have not seen any applications that will fail to run with this off, but it seems that a lot of software uses it.

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
IP Helper, Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), Security Center

Automatic Automatic Manual Manual

Windows Media Center Service Launcher
Description:
If you bought Ultimate for the media center parts, probably don’t disable it. Seems to just launch media center software at startup

Consequences of Stopping:
.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic (DS) Disabled Manual Disabled

Windows Search
Description:
Windows Indexing service renamed, plus some other features most likely. If you do a lot of searches keep it, but I imagine it’s rather heavy to keep such a big index. Uses a fair bit of resources. Search has been integrated into the desktop more fully, so you may find yourself using this more often than not.

Consequences of Stopping:
Without this, Explorer will have to fall back to its slow search. It will still search though.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Manual Disabled

Windows Time
Description:
Synchronizes windows clock online. Rather a useless tool, unless you are very serious about keeping valid time. It is a fairly light service.

Consequences of Stopping:
Your time might become out of sync.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
NA

Required for:
NA

Automatic Automatic Disabled Disabled

Windows Update
Description:
Allows you to download/install updates and patches from Microsoft.

Consequences of Stopping:
Windows Update will not function. Not just the automatic service, but running it period.
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

Required for:
NA

Automatic (DS) Automatic (DS) Disabled Manual

Workstation
Description:
Maintains internet connections. Internet still works without it, unless your provider has different requirements. Also used for making connections to remote printers, etc.

Consequences of Stopping:
?
All services listed in ‘Required For’ will be unable to function

Depends on:
Network Store Interface Service

Required for:
Netlogon, Computer Browser, Terminal Services Configuration

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