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I'm trying to improve the boot time and general performance of a Windows XP machine and figure the massive collection of services that Windows automatically starts have to have an impact. Are there any services that I can safely disable? If so what are they?

Obviously the services are there for a reason, so when listing a service, please provide reasoning & examples of when you'd not disable it.

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Not an answer, just a quick tip. Use null-logics.com/software/windows-service-commander to easily - start/stop/edit services - install/uninstall services –  Mercer Traieste Jul 15 '09 at 7:38
    
+1 Good question for for SU knowledgebase –  pavsaund Jul 24 '09 at 9:19
    
None! They're lightweight and there for a reason (most of them). –  alex Jan 18 '10 at 11:27
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@alex: *bzzzt* wrong! thank you for playing! –  quack quixote Jan 18 '10 at 12:44
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@alex: what, Indexing Service & System Restore aren't obvious performance hogs? try running without them for a while. (assuming you can live without SR.) Portable Media Serial Number service? lighweight, sure, but there for a reason? On a fresh XP SP3 install that's never seen a portable media player? –  quack quixote Jan 18 '10 at 19:47

8 Answers 8

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Black Viper maintains what is considered by many the definitive guide to Windows services.

http://www.blackviper.com/category/guides/service-configurations/

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If you wish to tweak the windows services to reduce memory usage theres quite a well known and respectable list here of what you can and cannot disable:

Although that said, be careful, and only disable services you're absolutely sure you don't want/need. Don't be trigger happy, this isn't going to save you massive resources.

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+1 for blackviper! I keep them registryfiles handy :) –  Edosoft Jul 22 '09 at 21:20

With services, it all depends on which services do jobs you need. I found a good link that talks about this here. Here's a small snippet from that link:


"To have your system boot in a short time, you also need to enable only useful services. Here comes the problem: which are the useful services? The simple answer is: useful services are the ones that do a job you're interested in. As you can note, this is not a real answer."


The advice is really good for Service Optimization.

Other than services, I use some Sysinternals tools to keep track of what's bogging down my PC. Notably, Autoruns, Process Explorer, and Process Monitor are quite effective to identify processes that run on your system and hog resources.

On a reasonably well-used PC, I would run defrag once a week, or once every two weeks. If it's used for only small things like internet access and a few applications, maybe once a month.

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Run Autoruns before and after you install new software to make sure that it doesn't add undesired auto-start components. I have long thought that this is a good idea, but I always forget to do it! –  Jay Michaud May 31 '09 at 3:25

Which services that need to be running on you pc really depends on what you use it for. There is usually a process of trial and error where you'll have to experiment a little to find out what actually helps and what you need.

Check out this article which has an explanation of services, and a video walkthrough where he goes through all the potential services that could be disabled.

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Use the Black Viper Guides for tweaking XP and its services.

The service tweaking guide has several profiles of different service configurations.

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My philosophy is to almost never disable services. I believe in having a very consistently configured machine with the least number of tweaks possible. That gets me, IMHO, a stable machine and no surprises at Windows Update. (I guess that means I'll never use vLite! :))

The well known tweaking guides out there are not written from a sysadmin's viewpoint.

However, you can go to Add/Remove Programs and go to Windows Features, and turn off those you don't use. I never ever use, for example, Simple TCP/IP Services, on anything. There are no doubt other examples. If you find you need the feature you can turn it back on.

Same goes for server roles; if you have SNMP installed but don't use it because you don't have a device that uses it (or the tools to use it costs too much/are bloated/make no sense) then remove it.

But I never go and disable a service just to try and make things "faster".

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I try to keep my prefetch clean (c:\windows\prefetch), disable most (if not all) of everything in start>run>msconfig >startup, and I constantly check and tweak start>run>services.msc

Also remember that almost everything on your machine wants to run something at startup. Check it every time you install something. Java and quicktime both want to run something at startup. Your wireless card manufacturer most likely has something running at startup. I use Windows to manage my wireless.

Oh...and I disable System Restore and Hibernation.

My XP laptop has amazing boot time.

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Cleaning the prefetch folder is a myth and will REDUCE performance!

Google "XP Myths"

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It may be a myth, but I have removed pieces of malware from a prefetch folder more than once. It just makes me feel better to clean it out. –  Anonymous Jun 1 '09 at 20:47
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Prefetch folder??? What does that have to do with Windows Services? –  Joseph Jul 15 '09 at 17:57

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