Microsoft

10+ Windows 7 services you may not need

If you evaluate your organization's need for certain Windows 7 services, you may find that a number of them can be safely disabled.

Every version of Windows has shipped with a core set of system services that must run so that the system can perform basic operations. However, your organization may not necessarily need to have all the services running, and disabling unnecessary services can enhance performance and security. I put together a list of 13 services you can disable on your Windows 7 systems that will probably not negatively affect your business operations at all.

I say "probably" for a reason. Before you take drastic action, such as disabling a service on every PC in your organization, make sure that the service you're disabling is not actually in use. This article makes a couple of broad assumptions: that your company doesn't need to share Windows Media files and doesn't use Windows 7's HomeGroup features.

This is not a definitive list of services that can be disabled; these are just some obvious ones. Read carefully and make sure you test changes before deploying them across your organization.

1: IP Helper

Windows description: Provides tunnel connectivity using IPv6 transition technologies (6to4, ISATAP, Port Proxy, and Teredo) and IP-HTTPS. If this service is stopped, the computer will not have the enhanced connectivity benefits that these technologies offer. Why this can be disabled: Many organizations haven't even started testing IPv6, much less fully deployed it. As indicated in the service description, the IP Helper service is leveraged in IPv4-to-IPv6 transitions.

2: Offline Files

Windows description: The Offline Files service performs maintenance activities on the Offline Files cache, responds to user logon and logoff events, implements the internals of the public API, and dispatches interesting events to those interested in Offline Files activities and changes in cache state. Why this can be disabled: If your organization doesn't use the Offline Files feature found in both Windows client and server products, this service can be safely disabled. Obviously, if you are synchronizing files across the network, you shouldn't disable this service.

3: Network Access Protection Agent

Windows description: The Network Access Protection (NAP) agent service collects and manages health information for client computers on a network. Information collected by the NAP agent is used to make sure that the client computer has the required software and settings. If a client computer is not compliant with health policy, it can be provided with restricted network access until its configuration is updated. Depending on the configuration of health policy, client computers might be automatically updated so that users quickly regain full network access without having to manually update their computer. Why this can be disabled: If you're not doing network-based remediation or if you're doing remediation with a third-party tool that doesn't leverage the NAP client, this service can be disabled.

4: Parental Controls

Windows description: This service is a stub for Windows Parental Control functionality that existed in Vista. It is provided for backward compatibility only. Why this can be disabled: Corporate networks rarely used Vista's Parental Control functionality. Further, this is a legacy service from Windows Vista.

5: Smart Card

Windows description: Manages access to smart cards read by this computer. If this service is stopped, this computer will be unable to read smart cards. If this service is disabled, any services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start. Why this can be disabled: If your organization does not use smart cards for authentication purposes, you can safely disable this service.

6: Smart Card Removal Policy

Windows description: Allows the system to be configured to lock the user desktop upon smart card removal. Why this can be disabled: If your organization does not use smart cards for authentication purposes, you can safely disable this service.

7: Windows Media Center Receiver Service

Windows description: Windows Media Center Service for TV and FM broadcast reception. Why this can be disabled: In most corporate environments, TV and FM broadcast reception on desktop computers is not considered a "business critical" item that needs support, and it's often not allowed anyway. You can disable this service to save some resources.

8: Windows Media Center Scheduler Service

Windows description: Starts and stops recording of TV programs within Windows Media Center. Why this can be disabled: Likewise, there's no need to record TV programs in a corporate environment.

9: Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service

Windows description: Shares Windows Media Player libraries to other networked players and media devices using Universal Plug and Play. Why this can be disabled: On a corporate network, Windows Media Player doesn't have nearly the place it might have on a home network. Disabling this service will have no impact on business activities.

10: Fax

Windows description: Enables you to send and receive faxes, utilizing fax resources available on this computer or on the network. Why this can be disabled: If your organization is not using a network-based faxing service, disabling this service will have no business impact.

11: HomeGroup Listener

Windows description: Makes local computer changes associated with configuration and maintenance of the homegroup-joined computer. If this service is stopped or disabled, your computer will not work properly in a homegroup and your homegroup might not work properly. It is recommended that you keep this service running. Why this can be disabled: It's highly unlikely that a business organization -- except a very small one -- is using HomeGroups as a way to share resources on a network. It's almost always safe to disable this service in a business setting.

12: HomeGroup Provider

Windows description: Performs networking tasks associated with configuration and maintenance of homegroups. If this service is stopped or disabled, your computer will be unable to detect other homegroups and your homegroup might not work properly. It is recommended that you keep this service running. Why this can be disabled: As noted above: Only very small organizations are likely to use HomeGroups to share resources on a network, so it's almost always safe to disable this service in a business setting.

13: Tablet PC Input Service

Windows description: Enables Tablet PC pen and ink functionality. Why this can be disabled: The vast majority of PCs that are deployed to users do not have hardware that can leverage tablet-like capability. This service simply uses system resources with no possible benefit.

Other services?

Are there other Windows 7 services your organization has disabled without negatively affecting business operations?

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

78 comments
techieindeed
techieindeed

The operating systems on our computers come with a variety of services, which have different purposes. This is the done to assure the feasibility for all types of computer users. So there are several services that are not of your use and might be a burden in your PC. This is why it is important to set up your OS in accordance to your specific need. If you do not have any experience in this regard, you can ask a tech support provider for assistance. This will be a small initial investment that will assure maximum utility of your PC for you.

emailadsspam
emailadsspam

Thanks again Scott. Can you think of 10 more?

stux
stux

My x64 Windows 7 Work PC all of sudden started using huge amounts of virtual memory (or I hadn't noticed the increased use until yesterday when windows complained about running out of memory). Process explorer didn't show any service or program that was the cause of 20+GB of virtual memory being consumed. So I started looking for services to disable when I ran into this article. I killed "Offline files" and boom! My virtual memory consumption went from 25GB to 3! Not sure what caused the increased usage but now I can sleep better knowing that the problem is gone now that i've disabled the service (and that it wasn't some kind of malware causing this.) It's pretty sad that MS services can use up resources that don't show up in any of the standard tools (the system cache almost behaves like that too).

bonnie
bonnie

Looks like nearly ALL of these services are already set to Manual by default. So this was pretty much a pointless exercise in checking for services that aren't even running.

NutAdmin
NutAdmin

One of the first things I disable

Network God
Network God

Geez.. Someone had space to fill. (slow day?) Most of these services are set to "Manual" by default and never run. (where's the real performance gain in that?) Will setting them to "Disabled" enhance security? (not likely)

tresun
tresun

I found a few of these to be useful - I disabled on my own computer - though several were already set to manual, meaning they didn't use resources anyway. This is directed toward those who manage networks of computers and that is great. I wonder is anyone knows of a source like this one for the rest of us - who simply have home networks and would like to disable never used or seldom used processes. Any Thoughts?

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

Don't suggest this thing. IPv6 is already deployed and used in lots of online services now. Exactly because the support for it is widely deployed by default. Any attempt to suggest disabling it means that people will have *reduced* Internet connectivity, with difficulties to find why some services are not working. The IP Helper is not taking lots of resources on the PC, this is a very small service, that does not impact the performance or does not increase significantly the Windows boot time. Any attempt to suggest to disable it, will generate later support demands, because people tend to forget that one service running by default has been disabled by them. Many services today already have no other choice than being accessible ONLY by IPv6 (the connectivity by IPv4 may work, but with reduced functionality and reduced performance, if the compatibility requires some temporary tunneling via IPv4, due to server-side performance constraints to honor the bandwidth and requests forwarded by the proxy). Everything that can help the transition to IPv6 should be kept. Never assume that IPv6 is not needed today (only because IPv6 connectivity is much less used today than IPv4, it does not mean that it is not necessary). Never assume what users will need. And don't suggest to people to diable things that will later **needlessly** generate additional support demands. Everything avout IPv6 (or helpting the transition from IPv4 to IPv6) should be left enabled now. This is a worldwide need for whch we have no choice (except being really too late on effectively allowing the transition). The IPv6 traffic is already exploding worldwide. For excellent reasons that solutions based on IPv4 tunnels cannot support the bandwidth and demand to scale up (so IPv4-only solutions tend now to become mushc slower, and this slow down is accelerating, as tunnels are largely overused and in fact would not even be needed with a full IPv6 connectivity). Really SUPPRESS your Number 1 item. This is the WORST suggestion in them.

iposner
iposner

If you disable a service, you may not be able to patch it. An example of this is SQL Server. If set to Manual, patching works correctly - if set to Disabled, it fails.

wurlitzer417
wurlitzer417

I see no improvement that disabling them has. Can someone tell me how this improves your system?

Rogue_Dad
Rogue_Dad

I would never disable a service unless I was sure that it would never be used and like mckinnej stated setting to manual allows the service to be started if needed.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I personally like to set things to manual - just to see if anything does start up a service. BTW, fastest way to change the service status [in an elevated prompt] is: sc config SERVICE start= demand where SERVICE is the shortname for a service Note that there is a space after the equal but not before For example echo to set manual to Offline File service sc config cscservice start= demand Note that many of the services above are geared towards either a domain or a workgroup. For example the first one could be needed if you have a homegroup as homegroups use IPv6. Same for the listener and provider. The third & forth are already set to manual.

F___M
F___M

Leave the machine alone! This isn't tech, it's script kiddie.

mostria914
mostria914

mckinnej comments makes more sense !!!!!!

Hunter_X5452
Hunter_X5452

You can also disable Super Fetch. Super Fetch monitors your most used programes and applications and cache it for faster execution. If the few extra seconds doesn't worry you.

andreimorarescu
andreimorarescu

It's usually useless, unless you actually have biometric auth capabilities :)

Tea.Rollins
Tea.Rollins

Won't provide any performance benefit

Slayer_
Slayer_

And status showed that they weren't running.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

This list would be much more helpful if the associated executable(s) would have been listed along with the narrative. Could this article be updated and republished? Thank you.

geekgal2
geekgal2

We don't use this so I disable it The Windows biometric service gives client applications the ability to capture, compare, manipulate, and store biometric data without gaining direct access to any biometric hardware or samples. The service is hosted in a privileged SVCHOST process. I also disable WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) if the user is not going to be scanning or using a camera.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

"Publishes this computer and resources attached to this computer so they can be discovered over the network. If this service is stopped, network resources will no longer be published and they will not be discovered by other computers on the network." None of our workstations hold resources for use by any other. Will anything break if this is turned off?

skyeenter
skyeenter

Another of CNET's crew of writers who are so smart about what they're writing but are clueless they may have an audience that doesn't. For those of us out here not as smart, how about a clue to the next level, where one finds the magic sword that turns off those dragons. Having finally caved to the Win 7 OS, I'm still in basic training. I'm sick of learning curves, too time consuming, so, hey smarty pants, how about helping out your students by telling us where the answers can be found. Make it an open book test. Based on your article content measured in outcome based knowledge, (meaning what you're saying and that I'm understanding is the process to accomplish what it is you're trying to say for me to do) far as I'm concerned your teaching skills rate about minimum wage Simply stated: teacher, how do I disable these processes.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

"Copies user certificates and root certificates from smart cards into the current user's certificate store, detects when a smart card is inserted into a smart card reader, and, if needed, installs the smart card Plug and Play minidriver." If we turn off smart cards as per the article, do we need "certificate propogation" turned on?

pgit
pgit

I do all these on vista and win7 machines as soon as possible. One additional thing I do is block multicast (inbound and outbound) with the firewall. I have seen a win7 machine associate itself with an outside network recently, I was floored to find the IP was world routable behind our firewall! (it was 169.254.x.x address, assigned to IANA!!!) Weirder still, the machine could still access everything, including the web interface on the firewall, which was on a private (192.168...) network. I have yet to find the underlying service/process that's initiating all the multicast traffic, but disabling it at the firewall stops it. The media center stuff seems responsible for part of it, but shutting those down does not stop multicast altogether. IANA... I always assumed windows was trying to thwart firewall/routers by broadcasting a request for association with the outside, which unless specifically blocked would be let out by the firewall, and of course the return traffic would be allowed as it's associated. Of course some windows office services use multicast, but I doubt many people need to allow this stuff through the perimeter.

davea_hm
davea_hm

how about a list of services that the home user should disable?

pgburns
pgburns

Thanks for the list, I love getting rid of unnecessary clutter! :-) ~ Pam

andy
andy

I went down the list, disabled a few of the most obvious ones, but all of them were set to Manual, and none of them were running. Does disabling a service free up more resources than just having a stopped service?

majykmyschyf
majykmyschyf

I have yet to see an error report submitted and received a solution. You'll turn a hue of MS blue first.

PCalvert
PCalvert

For desktop PC's in a workplace it's unlikely you'll need this service as its configuration of GSM/CDMA cards, laptops may use this but very unlikely to have a GSM card in a PC.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

Could the program name(s) associated with these services be included? This would make disabling them much easier. Thank you.

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