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How to Disable Unnecessary Services in Windows XP

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. Open the Administrative Tools icon.

  3. Open the Services icon.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Repeat Steps 4 through 7 as necessary.

  9. 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 XP
Service Name Effect of Disabling
Error Reporting Service Your computer no longer sends system error reports to Microsoft.
Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) Your system runs faster.
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) You cannot share your computer’s Internet access with another computer.
Messenger None; this isn’t the same as the Windows Messenger program.
Portable Media Serial Interface You cannot use a Windows Media Player–only MP3 player.
QoS RSVP A handful of programs no longer run or function properly.
Remote Access Connection Manager You cannot use dialup virtual private networking (VPN).
Remote Desktop Help Session Manager NetMeeting users cannot access your PC.
Remote Registry You cannot modify your computer’s Registry over a network.
Secondary Logon You cannot use a Limited account, but because most users are administrators in XP, it makes no difference.
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.)
TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper None, unless you’re certain that you’re using legacy NetBIOS networking programs. (You probably aren’t.)
Themes You use Windows in a rather plain, old-fashioned view. Fancy desktop features are disabled (transparency and shadows, for example).
Uninterruptible Power Supply Your UPS cannot use Windows power management. It still works if you use the UPS’s own software to control the power.
WMI Performance Adapter Who knows? Honestly, no one knows what this service does.
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