Configuring Windows Vista Services

One of my favorite long-time haunts on the Web is It’s the work of computer enthusiast Charles M. Sparks of Yreka, California, USA. Its main attractions are a series of detailed Windows Services lists with multiple recommended levels of settings. The draw comes from a simple statement about Windows “Disable unneeded services to reduce resource consumption.” Yeah, right! How do you know which ones you need and which ones you don’t? To give you an idea of what’s up here, my “clean” Vista installation lists 102 local services inside that runtime environment. This site lets you know which ones to keep, and which ones to reset or disable as your needs or wants dictate.

Basically, what you find are four listings of service configurations, one each for Windows Vista SP1, XP SP3, XP x64 SP2, and Windows 2000 SP4. Inside each one contents vary (explore the non-Vista listings on your own, please). For Vista you get information about default settings for Vista versions Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate Editions. You also get recommendations about what do to with each service to meet various user profiles:

  • Safe: a solid, stable configuration that works for the vast majority of ordinary users.
  • Tweaked: Reduces what’s recommended for the Safe profile, but maintains system security. Comes with a small risk that this configuration won’t work for some users.
  • Bare Bones: Reduces services to barest possible minimum. Not for use on Internet-connected or wirelessly networked machines.

After I install Vista (or reinstall, as I did last week) I always visit this site and tweak my services to match the Safe configuration on production machines. Sometimes I go for Tweaked on notebook PCs where resources are generally at a bit more of a premium. The process for using this information is to open the Services management console (type services into the Start menu search box, and the services.msc console pops right up), and then to follow Black Viper’s recommendations systematically and alphabetically.

snapshot of Services.msc

Use the Services management console to configure Windows Vista services.

One good tip to keep in mind is if you aren’t sure you might not need some service to run at some time, you can always set its Startup type to Manual, which lets the OS start it up any time it needs, but doesn’t start it up when the machine boots (this kind of Startup appears as Automatic in the properties window for any service you double-click inside the Services console).

Parental Controls services properties

No kids use this computer, so it’s OK to turn off parental controls. You’ll change the value of the Startup type field shown to match Black Viper’s recommendations.

All of this hard work is meticulously maintained and tested, and updated regularly. Black Viper does this for the love of the work, not for money, but needs donations to help him pay for network bandwidth and equipment. I try to send him at least $5 a year to help do my part to support his work. If you use this site, please do likewise.


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