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I'm doing a UK A Level IT course and i just wanted to know what the actual function of windows services are.

I know they are background processes, that don't need user intervention but what do they actually do?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Moses, ChrisF, Mokubai, Dave M, Renan Nov 13 '13 at 0:09

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
@ewkid - You have two entirely different questions. Please define system files vs system software because "system software" isn't clear. –  Ramhound Nov 12 '13 at 20:20
    
@Newkid Just wondering...what does "I'm doing a level i.t" mean? –  Moses Nov 12 '13 at 20:44
    
They do a lot of things. If I had to describe them in one sentence, I would say they are like parts of a car. They all do something useful and some are more necessary than others. Also, different cars have different parts, but most cars have similar parts. –  David Nov 12 '13 at 20:45
    
Lol i mean i am studying I.T as a a level –  Newkid Nov 12 '13 at 20:48
    
@Moses - An 'A Level' is a certification in the UK. –  James Snell Nov 12 '13 at 23:39

3 Answers 3

Services are programs that are, as you say, meant to run in the background without user interaction.

Here are some reasons why a developer may develop or use a service, instead of (or often times with) a standard Windows program:

  • Services aren't shut down when a user logs on or off. Things that need to be running in the background at all times, no matter who is logged on or when, will usually use one or more services.

  • Services can run as an account with high or administrative privileges, but accept input or direction from a client application that does not have administrative privileges. In such a way, a user not running as administrator could do things requiring administrative privileges.

  • A side benefit of the above is that, if you design the service properly, it could accept commands not only from a client application (via TCP/IP, RPC, pipes, etc.) running on the same machine, but a client application running on any other machine. So an application that needs to be controlled remotely will usually employ one or more services.

  • If you are designing an application that needs to be accessed by multiple users at once, you can structure things where each user is running a client that talks to a centralized service (local or remote). The service can then arbitrate between requests and make sure concurrent requests don't step on each others toes, and report back to the respective client (An example of an applicaiton that I think does this would be Symantec's Backup Exec.)

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Worth mentioning also: 1) Windows monitors the state of a program which runs as a service, and can be configured to automatically restart the program, or take a variety of other actions, should it crash. 2) Windows services are generally cognate to Unix daemons; the names differ, but the concepts and behaviors are largely similar, so knowledge of one tends to help with understanding the other. –  Aaron Miller Nov 13 '13 at 0:02

This is similar to asking "what do programs do?". Well, whatever they were designed to do. Each service is unique and does something different.

Your description of a service is pretty good. It's a process that runs in the background without needing user intervention or input. But there are millions of services that have been developed by millions of software companies. "What do they do?" is a pretty broad question.

If you're interested in what a particular service that came with Windows does, then you can find out in the Services console in Windows. Sometimes third-party software developers include descriptions of their services' functions in this window as well. Some don't.

Open services.msc from the Start/Search menu and right click any listed service, then click Properties. The description of the service is listed in the description box:

enter image description here

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A service is an application almost like any other. The difference between services and other programs is that they run in the background and don’t have a user interface you can click or tap on. They are intended to provide core operating system features such as Web serving, event logging, file serving, printing or error reporting.

Not all services are developed by Microsoft. Some applications and drivers install their own services. Security suites are a very good example, as they install different services to provide real-time monitoring of your system’s activities, firewall protection, etc. These suites need to use the advantages provided by services. One such advantage is that they can be started during the system boot, before other programs and even before you log in. But the most important advantage is that they can monitor everything that runs on your computer while being perfectly integrated in the Windows core. This way, they can provide a very high level of protection.

Another example of a non-Microsoft service could be a SSH server, often used in offices for secure remote connections or an auto-updating service for your web browser like the Mozilla Maintenance Service.

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