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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


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.