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Somehow (not sure how) I always manage to install Apple Bonjour on my XP machines. Do I need this piece of software for any reason? Is it required for some iPod/iPhone service (which we do use)?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It depends on what you want to do with those iPod and iPhone devices. If you wish for them to advertise their services to each other, then you will need it. Bonjour would allow for instance for your iPhone to use your computer printer, or for your computer and devices to share documents between each other.

Bonjour may raise some security concerns especially on your computer as it requires a specific port to be opened for incoming connections on your computer. However the weakness will always depend on the quality of the code of the service installed in your computer (currently named mDNSResponder.exe). Some security holes have been found and patched up in the past. Others may be discovered or new ones introduced in newer versions of this service.

Assuming a high secured mDNSResponder.exe, the opened port cannot be used as an entry point for an attack on your computer. Such seems to be the case at the time I'm writing this.

As above, it will depend entirely on the kind of connectivity you wish to establish between your devices and your computer. Other technologies already present in these devices (bluetooth or direct cable connection) will still allow you to connect devices and computer. So you can still pass files between your devices and your computer. If however you wish to print a document in your iPhone on your computer printer you will need Bonjour.

Either entirely remove the service:

  1. Stop the service
  2. in your Run... box: “%PROGRAMFILES%\Bonjour\mDNSResponder.exe” -remove
  3. And then: regsvr32 /u “%PROGRAMFILES%\Bonjour\mdnsNSP.dll”
  4. Reboot and delete the Bonjour folder afterwards.

Or you can leave it be. Disable the service and only enable and start it when you need it (no reboot necessary. This is what I do.

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So it's just required if you want to print from your iPhone? Is it required to transfer files from your iPhone to your PC? – Marcus Leon Oct 19 '09 at 2:40
No required for transferring files as long as you have other means like a direct cable connection or bluetooth. – A Dwarf Oct 19 '09 at 2:48

It implements a service discovery protocol for locating network devices such as printers. If you use iTunes, that's probably how you end up installing it each time as it comes with it. It allows their software to integrate with these devices and the services they provide.

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Bonjour (FAQ link, wikipedia) is Apple's implementation of Zeroconf/mDNS. It gets installed with iTunes. Some network printers and Adobe applications may utilize the system as well.

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