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How do I... Disable services in Windows Vista?


This information is also available as a PDF download.

Recently, TechRepublic published a list of Vista services and identified which ones can safely be disabled. Now, the question becomes this: How do you actually disable services in Vista? If you know how to manage services in Windows XP or other versions of Windows, this tutorial won't add too much knowledge to your repertoire, but if you've avoided services for fear of a serious snafu, this information will be right up your alley.

The Services control panel

All service management in Vista is handled through the Services Control Panel applet. How you get to the Services applet depends on how you have chosen to view the Control Panel in Vista. If you're using a fresh-out-of-the-box Vista installation, you probably haven't made many changes to how things work and are using Vista's new Control Panel view. In this case, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. From the Start menu, choose Control Panel. This will open up a screen similar to the one shown in Figure A.
  3. From the Control Panel home page, choose the System And Maintenance option. Figure B gives you a look at this page.

Figure A: Vista's Control Panel page

Figure B: System And Maintenance options on the Control Panel

  1. On the System And Maintenance page, click Administrative Tools.
  2. From the Administrative Tools page (Figure C), double-click on the Services option.

Figure C: The Administrative Tools Control Panel options

  1. When prompted by User Access Control to verify that opening the Services Control Panel applet is allowed, click the Continue button. If you are not prompted, you have either disabled User Access Control or are logged in with an account that does not have the ability to run with administrative privileges.
  2. You should now be at the Services Control Panel applet, shown in Figure D.

Figure D: The Services control panel applet

Managing services

In the Services applet, take note of the Status and Startup Type entries next to each service. When a service is running, it will be listed as Started in the status column. If the Status column next to a service is blank, it means that the service is not running. When it comes to the Startup Type column, each service can have only one of four possible states:

  • Automatic: The service starts automatically when the system boots. If a service is no longer required, it will stop but may still be set to Automatic.
  • Automatic (Delayed Start): Similar to Automatic, but the service may not start immediately at system boot. This service option is new in Windows Vista and can help reduce the resources needed to start a system, since not all required services need to be crammed into memory all at once.
  • Manual: The service starts and stops when necessary or starts when initiated by the user.
  • Disabled: The service never runs, regardless of the need.

Be aware that there is a big difference between a service simply not running and a service being set to Disabled. Only when a service is actually disabled can you be sure that it will never run. If a service is set to Manual, it can still run when the system calls for it.

Disabling a service

Once you've identified the service you want to disable, actually disabling it isn't too difficult. Follow these steps:

  1. Double-click on the name of the service to open the Properties page for the individual service.
  2. Locate the Startup Type list, shown in Figure E.

Figure E: Change the Startup Type to Disabled

  1. Click the down arrow next to the Startup Type box and choose the Disabled option.
  2. Click the OK button.

When you are finished, you'll see that the Startup Type column status for your selected service has been modified. Figure F shows you the results of this example.

Figure F: The service is now disabled

Summary

Depending on what you need to do, disabling unnecessary services in Vista can help your system boot faster and run better. The steps we outlined here will help guide you through the process.

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...

32 comments
jefffariss
jefffariss

I JUST SIGNED UP FOR THIS SITE, EXPECTING TO GET A LIST OF SERVICES TO DISABLE WITH NO AFFECT ON SYSTEM AS PART OF SIGNING UP, BUT IT DID NOT HAPPEN AND I DO NOT SEE HOW TO SEND IN A REQUEST TO GET THIS LIST EMAILEDD TO ME--WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO???

OldAnalyst
OldAnalyst

I've been reviewing my Vista services, as part of an investigation into repeated BSOD episodes. I notice that I have a service named "WJ" (no description, stopped, manual, Local System). Anyone know what this might be?

Jgates88
Jgates88

why not juist go to run and type in mmc. Then add the sbap-in and then do the rest? Wouldnt that save a little time and effort?

skywifi
skywifi

Thank you for the informative information.

rahbm
rahbm

Simple really; format the hard disc and install Ubuntu (or similar). Saves time, money, and all that frustration, and lets you get on with the job.

a.bellogini
a.bellogini

Hi, I managed to disable the Mysql service in Windows Vista but have never managed to disinstall it. Can anyone help me? Thanks, Alexandra

Bill_Miller
Bill_Miller

Which Services are Safe to Turn Off?

crdemallie
crdemallie

Come on guys. 99% of the people reading these articles would know how to get to Services one of the many ways and, as many have already pointed out, your way is the longest method. When I saw the title of the article, I assumed I would be seeing a list of non-essential services that can be disabled to tame the Vista beast in hopes of improving stability and performance. Please publish a follow-up to this article with a list of anything and everything that can be safely turned off. Thanks

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Miss the good old days of XP where you right click on My Computer, choose Manage and scroll down to Services. Why did MS add so many steps to something that is essential....

fetpet2
fetpet2

which services R necessary at or for booting the pc ?????

keyscapt
keyscapt

Isn't there an easy place to go to see what services have to be running and which ones can be set to manual or disabled? Sure seems like there would be a list of must haves. Thanks, keyscapt@aol.com

john4moman
john4moman

Very well written (with reflection on XP)...to help the average guy or gal I suggest you post a few of the not needed services and let others disable (or go to manual)and see the advantages. JM

rasilon
rasilon

The process here is much more complicated than necessary. Instead of all the steps described to get to the services console, why not: 1) Click on Start 2) Click on Run 3) enter "services.msc" (no quotes) and select OK That's it. You are now at your step 6... Hank Arnold

divineprime
divineprime

Actually, there is one more possible state. It is known as "Unknown". When you set a service to the unknown state(0), the startup type becomes "Boot". You can set this state in the following registry path: HKEY-LOCAL MACHINE-SYSTEM-CurrentControlSet-Services-ServiceNameHere-Start. Set the dword to zero(0), and the service will start upon boot.

PrinceGaz
PrinceGaz

"Depending on what you need to do, disabling unnecessary services in Vista can help your system boot faster and run better." True, but if you're not very careful about which services you do disable (therefore preventing Vista from being able to use) you could have serious problems. It is always better to set services to Manual rather than Disabled as that way you can work out what activated them and decide if it safe to disable that whole area, rather than simply disabling those which don't seem necessary and hoping Windows will still boot.

Exsosus
Exsosus

Hi OldAnalyst, The only service that I have heard about that is known as WJ as a windows process is a backdoor trojan. If you do have a trojan, make sure your antivirus software is completely up to date. I use AVG Internet Security full edition. I recommend it. Link about details on this trojan horse: http://www.removefakesoftware.com/remove-Win32.Kryptik.WJ.html

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

MySQL? As in the open source? Or an MS SQL product? Neither shows in the add-remove programs dialog? That's odd. I suppose you could do it the hard way; search for every instance of "sql" in the registry and delete it, then delete any files associated. I would have to assume everything except data would be under Program Files.

Bill_Miller
Bill_Miller

As a novice, I don't know what services are candidates to either disable or manual start. I DO need the improved performance. How can I find this out?

dhecker
dhecker

If you are not an IT person and a newbie where would you recommend finding Vista tips?

hobwebs
hobwebs

What happened to simply typing 'services.msc' into a Run box (or the 'Start Search') field? Works for me.

keyscapt
keyscapt

Man it would be nice to get rid of a few of the 1000 services running. Would have to speed up my system. Thanks again and please post the must have services and ones that we can set to manual or disable. keyscapt@aol.com

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

I agree that getting to services is much easier than what is listed. Your suggestion of Start/Run is a good one. You can also find My Computer, right click and select Manage. Viola! you are at everything dark and dirty about your OS :)

a.bellogini
a.bellogini

Thanks for your reply. Yes I'm talking about the open source database. Unfortunately, I have a Vista box, which everytime I try to uninstall Mysql launching its own command (mysql-nt --remove), first asks if I am sure that I want to launch the program and then tells me that I don't have enough privileges to do so. Do consider that I installed the mysql service with the same account that I am trying to remove it with. Also, the account has administrator privileges. Have you any idea as to how I can resolve the problem? Thanks!

martian
martian

Come on guys, did you even read the article? There's a freaking link to the previous article, about which services can be safely disabled, right in the very first sentence...

crdemallie
crdemallie

I guess my point was that if you don't know how to get to Services, you probably shouldn't be screwing with them.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Right. If I'm not mistaken mysql makes it's own account. Check to see if there's a mysql user other than admin. Of course you should be able to elevate to the admin account and remove it...

Bee Jay
Bee Jay

You might want to check and see that MySql is starting under the same account as you. If it's running with limited privileges, and it attempts to remove itself - well, that could be the issue right there. Stop MySql and start it with your account. Just a thought.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

his were bulletproof on XP, especially if you stayed with "safe" options.