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Windows services seem to come in three start-up types:

  • Automatic: seems to mean that it is started at bootup
  • Manual: seems to mean that it is not started at bootup
  • Disabled: also seems to mean that it is not started at bootup

What is the difference between the latter two?

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In later versions there is also "Automatic (Delayed)" (added in Vista/2008) and "Trigger Started" (added in 7/2008R2). – Richard May 20 '11 at 6:26
up vote 40 down vote accepted

Manual means that the service will start only when Windows or another service needs it, or if you invoke something to start the service. You can use the command net start servicename from the command line to enable a manual service. When you reboot, the service will again be off until you restart it.

Disabled, on the other hand, means that the service will stay off, regardless of whether you try to start it or not. Other services or applications which depend on the disabled service may fail.

See the MSFN discussion thread on Manual vs. Disabled for more info.

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So "Manual" could also be called "on demand", while "Disabled" means "not allowed"? – user49214 Jun 19 '12 at 17:41
hey, an old question, but I was wondering if you knew - under what condition does a manual service get started by a program? I.e. does the program need to send a request to the service or straight-out query it? Since a program that needs a manually starting service may still fail, I am trying to figure out if it happens because some programs first check if a service is running or if the program tries to send a certain command to the service, which does not meet manual start criteria and therefore does not start and the program fails. – mathgenius Sep 22 '15 at 19:13

The only difference between manual and automatic is that in the case of automatic the operating system itself starts the service after boot up, whereas in the case of manual the service is only started when called upon by another service or program.

If you have no need of the service at all, you have to disable it. Telephony seems to be one of those services that always wants to start up even when you seemingly have nothing that uses it, and the system would always complain if you disabled it. They seem to have fixed that problem in Vista, and they may have fixed it XP/SP3.

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