Windows

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...

76 comments
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.

pgit
pgit

If a service is set to "manual," it doesn't necessarily require user action to start it. Sometimes another process/application/what have you will call for the service. Of course in this scenario you may want or even need that process running. The real issue is the underlying security of the system. Calling processes silently in the background is a good vector for malware.

T_Mac
T_Mac

Oddly, I've had to have a couple of our users DISABLE the IP Helper service to be able to make a wireless network connection.  The connection was fine everywhere else except a location he was at for a week - at the trailer park.  Couldn't make the wireless connection.  Disabling the IP Helper service allowed him to connect successfully.  Haven't had time to figure out why yet but wanting to know the implications of disabling it permanently brought me here. I'll likely have him turn it back on but I'm curious to know why this interfered with his wireless connection.

pgit
pgit

90% or more of networks don't need IPv6, and may never need it, actually. On the flip side, it's a heck of a lot harder securing IPv6. The expense and the security risk are not worth it for any of my users.

WCarlS
WCarlS

IPv6 is needed only if you are communicating directly with devices that are themselves using IPv6. If your ISP - and your router - do not/are not handling v6 protocols, having them running on your PC, internally behind a firewall that does not route it, is not helpful. On the other hand, if you are connected dfirectly to your broadband - wideband - wireless provider without any sort of router or personal firewall, well then, you might want to leave it running. That will at least have the benefit of making it easier for external sources to "reach" your computer.

learn4ever
learn4ever

You go on and on and on. 1) if there are 'on-line' services that need IPv6 then this isn't affected by the LAN you're on, hence, the service on your PC. that's on the other side of your router or firewall. Second, if your the admin of these PC's and it's LAN, I'm pretty sure you'd know to enable IPv6 if it was later deployed. You waste so much typing for nothing.

learn4ever
learn4ever

... I know would disable SQL permanently. That's just silly. If you didn't need SQL you'd uninstall it. I agree with nwallette. and BTW, we're talking about native OS services here... SQL is not native.

nwallette
nwallette

Very few services can be disabled that would really prevent you from using the computer in a normal way. In most cases, if you turn off a service that's needed by something, it will throw an error next time you try to use it. Something akin to "hey dummy, I can't do this because you turned off the xxxx service." Re-enable it, start it, good to go. No harm done.

nwallette
nwallette

Sounds more like you're afraid to touch it because you don't understand it. Don't take this as an insult.. it's a perfectly valid approach if you're not sure how to handle the consequences of such an action. But, I would not go so far as to consider this black-hat hacking. I'm fairly certain these services provide zero benefit to a workplace environment. If this were Linux, they would not have been installed based on the profile chosen during installation. But Windows is one-size-fits-all, so the equivalent approach is to at least prevent them from running.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The way windows applications work is, they sit in a constant loop, checking for messages from the operating system, when it receives a message, it responds accordingly. That "not responding" windows frequently does, means the application isn't acknowledging messages. It is however possible for programs to "sleep" and completely give up CPU for a specified time. The kernel essentially stops giving the process CPU time for the amount of time the app requested to "sleep". This can also result in an application showing as "not responding" because it is unable to respond to messages (cause it's sleeping). In short, every program you have running, is sitting in an endless loop listening for messages and burning CPU time.

blarman
blarman

Everything running is memory, disk access, and processor time something else could be using - however big or small. It's also one more process that can be hooked into by malware. Less is better not only for performance, but for security.

learn4ever
learn4ever

... you would be well advised to leave your windows services alone.

Jordon
Jordon

Google... start stop service windows for your flavor of Windows

Slayer_
Slayer_

Most of them will be DLL's being run by SVCHost

learn4ever
learn4ever

... for these questions is Black Viper. The name is corny, but trust me... this guy is good. Google 'black viper windows services'. The first hit is it.

learn4ever
learn4ever

No appropriate reply to that post

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

...then select "Start Task Manager". In Task Manager select the "Services" tab. Hit the "Services..." button. In the window that appears double-click any service to get a dialog which allows you to change its settings. Don't forget, turning off some services may stop Windows from working. Good luck.

jquinnjr
jquinnjr

Skyenter: You should probably have a clue before you try doing something as technically challenging as disabling a service. You actually do it the same way that it has been done since at least WinXP... Use the Services (or Local Services) applet. It can be found in Control Panel or by using the Search Feature under the Start Button. If the article is too technically challenging for you, consider this link: www.disney.com...

Slayer_
Slayer_

Disabling (and restarting) services is a common IT task. If you need to know how to do this, you should google it. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=disable+services+in+windows+7

nwallette
nwallette

We really need to get off our collective donkeys and start ushering in IPv6. The fact that it hasn't been strictly necessary up until now means most people (guilty!) haven't bothered to implement it even internally. This is really going to come back and bite us when, all of a sudden, we have no choice. No one wants to implement IPv6 over night. You can't say we haven't been warned it was coming. Ignoring IPv6 now is just lazy and stupid. (Wagging the finger at myself here.)

learn4ever
learn4ever

... with everything you said. Glad I'm not the only Pro on here!

pgit
pgit

I remember the first time I came across BV, I had searched for "disable windows services" and it was on the first page of results, though not the first. I have a habit of going down results, middle clicking links to open in new tabs. Always good to broaden your horizons I say. Black viper is a gold mine.

skyeenter
skyeenter

First you spelled the name wrong, so you fail reading. Second, novel of you passing on the link to your home page. While not as adept at reading machine intelligence as you, one thing I do know, how to read a smart *ss with limited intelligence. My first laptop was an Osborne, dual floppy, 5" green screen, probably built before you were born. I'm still running the first system I built in 2002 and loaded Win 98 on it back then. Perhaps you didn't read my comment right. It's Win 7 that I'm now learning. So if you want to chastize me for my ignorance on that subject then go ahead, but don't confuse ignorance for stupid. Unless of course you're looking in a mirror. skye

Cmd_Line_Dino
Cmd_Line_Dino

I press 2 keys and a new Firefox window opens to Google with cursor placed in the search box. I then type win 7 disable service and press enter

nwallette
nwallette

Serious question: Do you actually (still) have networking gear that doesn't support IPv6? I would've figured any appliance limited to 32-bit addresses would be long since out of warranty by now. That's at least one nice thing about procrastination. By now, when we're ready to turn it on, it should be ubiquitous.

learn4ever
learn4ever

This is IT networking's dirty little secret. I'm on the guilty list too. It's a hard sell to management too! Try and explain how the investment in new routers/switches is going to pay off. No ROI that they would get.

learn4ever
learn4ever

You're just having migration issues.... but you still need to find things in the new OS by exploring for yourself, or using google. And jquinnjr's main point is still valid. The services snap-in hasn't changed since Win NT3.5 (around the time you were playing with Win98). Your excuse doesn't hold water.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

snark the first snark. Smurfs aside, if you don't know what you're doing, either stop trying or try harder. Don't try to hijack a blog by demanding that its author dumb it down to your level, it would mean cheesing off his target audience.