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How to Disable Unnecessary Services in Windows Vista

A service is something a program does in Windows — specifically, a program that starts automatically whenever the computer starts. Most services are things that Windows does, and most of those services are tasks that you don’t need to have running in your computer.

To disable a service, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Choose Security and then choose Administrative Tools.

  3. Open the Services icon.

  4. Click the Continue button or type the administrator’s password.

  5. Locate a service to disable.

    Use the list at the end to help you decide which services to disable.

    Click the Name column heading to ensure that the services are sorted alphabetically.

  6. Double-click the service to open its Properties dialog box.

  7. Choose Disabled as the Startup type.

    By choosing Disabled, you prevent the process from starting when the computer starts.

    Make a note of the service’s original state: Automatic or Manual. Just in case you need to re-enable the service, you should know how it was configured before you changed it.

  8. Click OK to confirm your choice and close the dialog box.

    When you’re concerned about compatibility, or that your computer may work improperly after disabling a service, restart Windows. When the system starts up, try it out for a while to ensure that things are working well. Then continue or, if there’s a problem, re-enable the service to Automatic or Manual or whatever the previous setting was.

  9. Repeat Steps 4 through 7 as necessary.

  10. Close the Services window when you’re done.

    You can also, optionally, close the Control Panel window.

Here’s a list of services that you might be able disable to help improve your computer’s performance.

Services You Can Disable in Windows Vista
Service Name Effect of Disabling
Desktop Window Manager Session Manager The desktop looks less pretty.
FAX You can’t send faxes, but if you don’t send them in the first place, there’s no point in wasting resources on this service.
Function Discovery Provider Host Windows Media Center doesn’t function properly.
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) You cannot share your computer’s Internet access with another computer.
Offline Files You can’t access the offline files if you’re using offline files, and you probably aren’t.
Parental Controls Parental control features don’t work, which is okay if your children don’t use the computer, you have no children, or you don’t act like a child.
Remote Access Connection Manager You cannot use dialup virtual private networking (VPN).
Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator None.
Remote Registry You cannot modify your computer’s Registry over a network.
Smart Card You cannot use a smart card to authenticate computer access. This service requires a smart card slot on your computer. (A smart card isn’t a memory card.)
Smart Card Removal Policy You cannot use a smart card for computer access.
Tablet PC Input Service You cannot use a stylus to write on your Tablet PC.
TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper None, unless you’re certain that you’re using legacy NetBIOS networking programs. (You probably aren’t.)
Telephony Your dialup networking may not work.
Terminal Services Remote Desktop, Media Center, and other programs may not work.
Themes You use Windows in a rather plain, old-fashioned view. Fancy desktop features are disabled (transparency and shadows, for example).
webClient The FrontPage web design program may not work.
Windows Firewall Windows Firewall doesn’t run, but if you’re using other firewall software or hardware, that’s okay.
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