Where did the Service Control Manager go in Windows 2000?

In this Daily Drill Down, Brien Posey introduces you to the Microsoft Management Console, the standard interface for performing almost all management- and configuration-related tasks in Windows 2000.

If you're a Windows NT veteran, you're no doubt familiar with Windows NT's Service Control Manager. However, you might have been shocked to learn that Windows 2000 doesn't even have a Services icon in Control Panel. That's because Windows 2000 uses another utility to manage system services. In this Daily Drill Down, I'll introduce you to this new utility. I'll also explain why the new utility offers capabilities far beyond the original Service Control Manager.

Some background
Just in case you're unfamiliar with the Service Control Manager, here's a little background information. The Service Control Manager is a Windows NT component that controls all of the system services. You can access the Service Control Manager by double-clicking the Services icon in Control Panel. When you do, you'll see the Service Control Manager, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The Service Control Manager allows you to manage all of the various Windows NT system services.

The scope of the Service Control Manager is very basic. You can use the Start, Stop, or Pause button to individually start, stop, or pause the various services. You can also use the Startup button to change the startup specifications for any given service. For example, you can set the service to start automatically at boot-up or to start manually when called upon by the system. Or you can disable a service completely to prevent it from starting. As you can see, the general function of the Service Control Manager is simple, but it does its job well.

The Windows 2000 Service Control Manager
As I mentioned earlier, the Service Control Manager doesn't exist in the same form in Windows 2000. If you look in Control Panel, you'll see no Services icon. Instead, all of the services are managed through the Microsoft Management Console. The Microsoft Management Console is a tool that was introduced in the Windows NT 4 Option Pack for managing your entire system through a single tool. While the Microsoft Management Console was an optional component in Windows NT, it is the standard interface for performing almost all management- and configuration-related tasks in Windows 2000.

Because the Microsoft Management Console can perform such a wide variety of tasks, you must tell it which task you want to perform. You can do this by loading snap-ins. A snap-in is a module designed for the purpose of adapting Microsoft Management Console to a specific task. Although you can load snap-ins individually, you don't have to since Microsoft has provided shortcuts on the Start menu that automatically load Microsoft Management Console with the appropriate snap-ins.

You can access one such shortcut by selecting the Computer Management command from the Start | Programs | Administrative Tools menu. When you do, the Microsoft Management Console loads, along with the Computer Management snap-in. As you can see in Figure B, the Computer Management snap-in provides an interface for performing many common tasks. For example, you can access such tools as the Event Viewer or the Device Manager through the Computer Management snap-in.

Figure B
The Computer Management snap-in for Microsoft Management Console allows you to perform a variety of management and maintenance tasks on the system.

To access the Service Control Manager portion of this snap-in, navigate to Computer Management (Local) | Services and Applications | Services. When you do, you'll see all of the system services displayed in the column to the left.

Sorting through the services
Needless to say, this list can be a little overwhelming at first glance. Windows 2000 has dozens of services, and every one of them will appear on the list. Fortunately, you can sort through the list to find what you're looking for very easily. If you're looking for a specific name, all of the services are already listed in alphabetical order. You can simply scroll through the list to find the service that you need.

Suppose, on the other hand, you received a message at system startup that a service failed to start. Sure, you could find out which service it was by looking in the event logs, but where's the fun in that? Instead, why not just go directly to the Service Control Manager and click on the Startup Type column header? When you do, all of the services that are set to start automatically will be brought to the top of the list. You can then scroll down through the list to see which service hasn't been started but is set to start automatically.

Stopping and starting services
One of the most basic functions of the Service Control Manager is to allow you to start and stop services. To do so, simply right-click on the service you want to start or stop. When you do, you'll see a context menu. Using this menu, you can start, stop, pause, resume, or restart a service with a single mouse click.

Service properties
One of the most powerful menu commands is the Properties command. To access this command, simply select a service and right-click on it. Now, select the Properties command from the resulting context menu.
Before continuing, keep in mind that you shouldn’t change the properties for any service unless you know exactly what the impact will be on the entire system. Making an incorrect change can permanently disable the service. Other services may depend on the service you're working with and may not start if the service isn't functioning correctly; therefore, if you decide to play, make a backup first and play at your own risk.
When you access a service's properties sheet, the first thing you'll see is the General tab, shown in Figure C. As you can see, the General tab lists some handy basic information about the service, such as a description of the service's function and the path to the file that makes up the service. Using this tab, you can change the display name or the description to better meet your needs.

Figure C
The General tab provides some basic information on the service and lets you start and stop the service as needed.

Another feature of the General tab is the Startup Type drop-down list. This drop-down list lets you control how the service will start. As you probably already know, setting the startup type to Automatic will make the service start during boot-up. Setting the startup type to Manual will cause the service to start only when the system needs it. Finally, setting the startup type to Disabled prevents the service from starting at all.

Finally, the General tab provides you with buttons that let you start, stop, pause, or resume the service. You can also specify startup parameters on the General tab.

The service account
The next tab on the server's properties sheet is the Log On tab, shown in Figure D. This tab allows you to establish which service account the service will use. You can also change the service account's password to match a change made to the domain password if necessary.

You'll notice a profile section at the bottom of this tab. This section is included so that you can enable a service in one hardware profile but disable it in other hardware profiles. This feature is especially helpful for notebook users who access a network or plug into a docking station while at the office but don't have these items available to them out on the road.

Figure D
The Log On tab lets you manipulate the service account and set up the way that the service works with various hardware profiles.

Recovery options
The Recovery Options tab, shown in Figure E, is new to Windows 2000. It provides a mechanism for recovering should a service fail to start. You can set up an action for the system to perform on the first failure, the second failure, and all subsequent failures. These include such actions as running a file, restarting the service, or rebooting the server. For example, you could tell the system that if a given service fails to start, the system should try to start it again. If that doesn't work, the system should run a file that cleans up some aspect of the system and then restarts the service. If that doesn't work, then the system should reboot the server.

Figure E
The Recovery tab lets you specify a variety of actions to perform if a service fails to start.

As you can see in the figure, the Recovery tab provides a mechanism for specifying the file to run on failure. You can even append the fail count number as a parameter to a batch file. You can also specify custom parameters if necessary. And you can specify how many failures to reset the fail count number after and how long Windows 2000 should wait before attempting to restart the service. Finally, you'll notice the Restart Computer Options button. This button allows you to wait a specified number of minutes before rebooting the server and to send a message to any users who may be logged on.

Service dependencies
I mentioned earlier that changing a service may result in other dependent services failing. A handy feature of the Service Control Manager that's new to Windows 2000 is the Dependencies tab. As you can see in Figure F, the Dependencies tab displays which services must be running for the service in question to start. It also shows which other services won't start unless the service in question starts. Therefore, if your machine boots up and a million services have failed to start, they may all be related to the failure of a single service. The Dependencies tab is a great place to find out which service is really the problem.

Figure F
The Dependencies tab provides you with a list of services that are dependent on one another.

In this Daily Drill Down, I introduced you to the way that Windows 2000 allows you to manage system services. I also explained why this new method is far superior to the Windows NT Service Control Manager.

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail. (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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