Disable unnecessary services to improve workstations performance

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

NT/W2K/XP supports a large number of services. Unnecessary services take up a lot of cycles. Try disabling the following services to speedup your workstation.

Warning: disabling any service can cause installed applications to fail, so recommended practice is to disable unnecessary services one at a time, testing all installed apps to ensure they still function correctly.

  • Alerter service
    This service is only needed for sending administrative alerts. Used to notify admins when a server is in trouble. Set it to Manual on a home PC.

  • Clipbook service
    This service is a relic of NT3.x. Used to support Clipbook Viewer which allows remote viewing of the clipbook. Default for workstation is manual. Ensure it is set to manual or disabled.

  • Computer Browser
    The browser service is used to maintain the list of PCs you see in Network Neighborhood. This is normally a server function. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
    W2K/XP service. Distributed Link Tracking Client sends notifications of files moving between NTFS volumes in a network domain. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Distributed Transaction Coordinator
    W2K/XP service. Coordinates transactions that are distributed across two or more databases, message queues, file systems, or other transaction-protected resource managers. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • DNS Client
    W2K/XP service. Resolves and caches Domain Name System (DNS) names. This is normally provided by your ISP. Set to Manual and if you have name resolution problems, return it to Automatic.

  • Fax Service
    W2K/XP service. Set to Manual if you don't need fax services.

  • Indexing Service
    W2K/XP service. Fastfind functionality. Improves text searches. For more info see Disable FindFast. For day to day performance, I would disable it.

  • Internet Connection Sharing
    W2K/XP service. If you are want to share an Internet connection for your home network, then set this to Automatic. If not, leave this set to Manual.

  • IPSEC Policy Agent
    W2K/XP service. Manages IP security policy and starts the ISAKMP/Oakley (IKE) and the IP security driver. If not, leave this set to Manual.

  • Messenger service
    This service can be used to send messages. When it receives messages, they pop up on the console. With email, whats the point? Really not useful on a home PC.

  • Netlogon service
    Logging onto a domain? Leave it. Otherwise set it to Manual.

  • Network DDE
    Supports network transport of DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) connections. Such connectivity is mostly a relic from the NT 3.x days.

  • NT LM Security Support Provider
    Provides security to remote procedure call (RPC) programs that use transports other than named pipes. A home user can set this to Manual

  • Performance Logs and Alerts
    A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Plug and Play
    Gives something like PnP functionality but unless you are using unimodem modems, don't bother.

  • QoS RSVP
    W2K/XP service. Provides network signaling and local traffic control setup functionality for QoS-aware programs and control applets. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Remote Registry Service
    W2K/XP service. Allows remote registry manipulation. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Routing and Remote Access
    W2K/XP service. Offers routing services to businesses in local area and wide area network environments. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Runas service
    W2K/XP service. Enables starting processes under alternate credentials. A home user can set this to Manual.

  • Security Accounts Manager
    W2K/XP service. Stores security information for local user accounts. A home user can set this to Manual unless you are using Local Security Policy Editor.

  • Smart Card
    W2K/XP service. Manages and controls access to a smart card inserted into a smart card reader attached to the computer. It is set to manual by default. Leave it there.

  • Smart Card Helper
    W2K/XP service. Provides support for legacy smart card readers attached to the computer. It is set to manual by default. Leave it there.

  • Server service
    You can disable the server service unless you are sharing files on your hard drive or your printer. If you have a DSL or cable modem, stop this service. Hackers will get nowhere if you do.

  • Spooler
    Print Spooler service in W2K/XP. Spooler in NT. Loads files to memory for later printing. If you don't have a printer, you can set it to manual.

  • TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
    Provides support for name resolution via a lookup of the LMHosts file. If you are not using LMHOSTS name resolution, you can set it to Manual.

  • Telephony Service
    Provides Telephony API (TAPI) support for programs that control telephony devices and IP based voice connections on the local computer and, through the LAN, on servers that are also running the service. Normally set to Manual on workstations. Leave it on Manual.

  • Telnet
    Allows a remote user to log on to the system and run console programs using the command line. Default is Manual. Leave it.

To disable a service or set to Manual (I recommend set to Manual):

  • Click Start
  • Click Settings
  • Click Control Panel
  • Double click Services
  • Select the service you want to modify
  • Click the Startup button
  • Select Disabled or Manual under Startup Type

I am running Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP and the number of services I disabled on my non-networked home PC is amazing. Its a wonder any CPU resources were available.

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