Windows 2000 Services Tweak guide
Updated on May 22, 2000 by Thomas McGuire

Much like previous versions of Windows NT, Windows 2000 also uses system Services. These allow support for other Programs/Hardware, etc. to run correctly. Or you can configure them to improve system security. By default Windows 2000 automatically runs many of these services & consumes more memory than it actually may need to for your particular needs, E.g. If you don't intend to use Task Scheduler or Fax Service, then why waste memory on running them automatically?

In this guide I'll cover what each service does & whether or not you really need it. Currently this guide is (still) the most comprehensive of it's sort (In terms of content & amount of Services covered). Now, onto the guide itself.

Services

Before getting off to doing anything you should make sure you have the latest system components, & any other relevant updates installed. This will ensure all Services are displayed & in some cases may even fix issues with some of them. You can check out our OS Updates page for a listing of Windows 2000 updates.

Begin by logging on as Administrator. This will give you access to all the Services available in Windows 2000. To load the Services Utility, click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, then Services (You may also be able to access it via Start, Programs, Administrative Tools, Services if you enabled Administrative Tools to be displayed on the Start Menu). Below is a shot of the Services utility.

This Utility lists all the Services that are available on your system. In particular look at the Startup Type tab, this attribute is the most important one & is the one which we will be dealing with mostly in this guide. 3 options are available & they are listed in the following section.

Disabled, Automatic or Manual?

These are the 3 choices that face you for each particular service available. What's the difference between each 3 options ? Well.

In order to change the Startup type of a Service enter the Properties of the respective Service. To do this, Right click on the Service in question & select Properties.

From the Startup type drop-down menu you can choose the Services Startup type. Select Apply after you have made your selection for the change to take effect. Select Ok to return to the Services Utility. NOTE – In most cases it is recommended that you set a Service to Manual rather than Disabled first (As discussed earlier the only difference is that a Service may be started if needed, rather than not at all). That said, as you'll discover later on in this guide there are certain instances were it can be preferable to select Disable rather than Manual.

Dependencies

A Dependency is a relationship of reliance between 2 or more resources that makes it necessary for them to run in the same group on the same node. In relation to Services, some are dependant on others to run correctly. To find out whether or not a Service is dependant on others, Right click on the Service in question & select Properties. Next select the Dependencies tab.

Depending on what dependencies a Service has, it can effect your ability to change a Services Startup type to Disable or Manual without the Service being automatically initiated anyway. As a result this tab can help your Troubleshooting process if a problem arises after disabling a particular Service which is dependant on.

Backup

Customizing the various system Services settings can be hazardous at times. So before you even start messing with them you should prepare an ERD (Emergency Repair Disk). Although it’s highly unlikely you’ll need this, you never know. To make an ERD take the following steps.

  1. Click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools then Backup.

  2. Select the Emergency Repair Disk option in the Welcome tab & backup your registry (This is where any changes you make to the system Services are stored).

Now that you’ve made your ERD it's onto to the next section of the guide.

Emergency Restoration procedure

Should you find that you inadvertently Disable a Service that is required to load Windows 2000, or for it to function correctly do the following (Assuming that the Services Utility will not load, which can occur when some Services are set to Disable. Click on Start, Run, type in regedit & hit Enter. Open the following registry key, [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services]. This is where the Startup type for every Service is also stored. Select the appropriate Service (If unsure check the DisplayName value in the Right hand pane) from this subfolder. In the Right hand pane there will be a DWORD value entitled Start. The value (Decimal or Hexadecimal) for this entry determines the Services Startup type, as in the previous section. To change the value Right click on the entry & select Modify. Valid values are as follows;

This following example illustrates how you would go about restoring the Plug & Play Service from Disable to Automatic. As you can see in the [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\PlugPlay] key the value for Start is to 4, i.e. Disabled.

Right click on the Start entry & select Modify. Select the Value data field.

Change the value to 2 & select the OK button, this will set the Startup type to Automatic. Reboot for the change(s) to take effect. Should this fail you should resort to the ERD which you made as directed earlier on.

Services list & Recommendations

Depending on your Windows 2000 installation, some of the Services listed below, may, or may not appear. This can be caused by the Installing/Uninstalling certain Networking Components, such as File & Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks or Client for Microsoft Networks, or other Hardware & Programs. Now, onto the Services themselves;

Alerter. Notifies selected users & computers of administrative alerts. Set to Manual if you aren't connected to a network. If you are connected to a network set it to Automatic, this will enable your System Administrator to be informed when something goes wrong in your system, which may aid them in Diagnosing, & fixing the issue.

Application Management. Provides software installation services such as Assign, Publish, & Remove. Leave this set to Manual.

ClipBook. Supports ClipBook Viewer, which allows pages to be seen by remote ClipBooks. Set this to Manual to enable users to be able to view information on the Clipbook server. You shouldn't ever need to set this to Automatic.

COM+ Event System. Provides automatic distribution of events to subscribing COM components. Set this to Automatic.

Computer Browser. Maintains an up-to-date list of computers on your network & supplies the list to programs that request it. Set this to Manual if you aren't connected to a network. If you are connected to a network set it to Automatic as it will enable you to browse through My Network Places & such.

Creative Service for CDROM Access. This service is added during installation of Creative Liveware for SoundBlaster Live! cards. If you enabled the use of the Disc Detector utility then you should set this to Automatic, otherwise leave it set to Manual.

DHCP Client. Manages network configuration by registering & updating IP addresses & DNS names. If you on a network or have a permanent internet connection, connected to a specified DCHP server set this to Automatic. Those who are not connected to a network (or specific DCHP server) set this to Manual. Should you have problems connecting to websites & such after setting DCHP Client to Manual then take the following steps.

  1. Click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, Network & Dial-up Connections.

  2. Highlight your connection & Right click on it, selecting Properties. Then hit the Networking tab.

  3. Highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) & select the Properties button, then hit the Advanced button. Select the DNS tab.

  4. In this tab Untick Append parent suffixes of the primary DNS suffix & Register this connection’s addresses in DNS, as shown in the picture below.

  1. Click Ok 3 times to exit Network & Dial-up Connections. You will need to restart your machine (Well, disconnect at least) in order for these changes to take effect.

Distributed Link Tracking Client. Sends notifications of files moving between NTFS volumes in a network domain. Set this to Manual. Although its highly unlikely many of you will use this particular Service. If however you are connected to a Windows 2000 domain & use the NTFS file system, set it to Automatic.

Distributed Transaction Coordinator. Coordinates transactions that are distributed across two or more databases, message queues, file systems, or other transaction protected resource managers. Leave this set to Manual.

DNS Client. Resolves & caches Domain Name System (DNS) names. Set this to Automatic if you are connecting to a specific DNS server on a network (You can verify this in the Network & Dial-up Connections folder, viewing the Properties for your Network connection). Otherwise set it to Manual.

Event Log. Logs event messages issued by programs & Windows. Event Log reports contain information that can be useful in diagnosing problems. Reports are viewed in Event Viewer. Leave this set to Automatic, this will allow you to log errors & such in programs & is needed to track certain other activities, such as Performance logs (Covered in the Windows 2000 Memory guide).

Fax Service. Helps you send & receive faxes. This Service is added if you have installed a Fax capable Modem in machine. If you have no intention of using the Modems Fax capabilities however, you should set this to Manual. If you intend to use the Modems Fax capabilities a lot then set this to Automatic.

FTP Publishing Service. Provides FTP connectivity & administration through the Internet Information Services snap-in. If you have IIS 5.0 installed, & is configured to provide an FTP on your machine set this to Automatic, otherwise leave it set to Manual.

Infrared Monitor. Supports infrared devices installed on the computer & detects other devices that are in range. Should you intend to use Infrared devices on your system, e.g. wireless keyboards/mice, then set this to Automatic. If you have no such devices installed then you may set this to Manual.

IIS Admin Service. Allows administration of Web & FTP services through the Internet Information Services snap-in. If you have IIS 5.0 installed & configured to provide an FTP/Website on your machine set this to Manual to allow you to configure it whenever needed.

Indexing Service. Indexes contents & properties of files on local & remote computers; provides rapid access to files through flexible querying language. This Service is added if you the Indexing Service installed (It is installed by default). The Indexing service is similar to FindFast in Microsoft Office, although is generally regarded as more useful. Most of you should be fine leaving this set to Manual. Although if you wish to maintain regular index updates set this to Automatic.

Internet Connection Sharing. Provides network address translation, addressing, & name resolution services for all computers on your home network through a dial-up connection. If you are sharing an Internet connection on your network then set this to Automatic. If no Internet connection is being shared you can set this to Manual instead.

IPSEC Policy Agent. Manages IP security policy & starts the ISAKMP/Oakley (IKE) & the IP security driver. If you aren't connected to a Windows 2000 Domain you may set this to Manual. If you are connected to a Windows 2000 Domain set this to Automatic.

Logical Disk Manager. Logical Disk Manager Watchdog Service. Set this to Automatic.

Logical Disk Manager Administrative Service. Administrative service for disk management requests. This Service may be set to Manual.

Messenger. Sends & receives messages transmitted by administrators or by the Alerter service. If you are connected to a Windows 2000 Domain/Network set this to Automatic. If you aren't connected to a network you may set this to Manual.

Net Logon. Supports pass-through authentication of account logon events for computers in a domain. If you are connected to a Windows 2000 Domain then set this to Automatic. If you aren't connected to a Windows 2000 Domain you may set it to Manual.

NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing. Allows authorized people to remotely access your Windows desktop using NetMeeting. For security reasons I'd recommend you set this to Disable unless you really need to give others remote access to your Desktop via NetMeeting, in which case set this Service to Manual.

Network Connections. Manages objects in the Network & Dial-Up Connections folder, in which you can view both local area network & remote connections. Leave this set to Automatic unless your system is not connected to a Network/Internet, in which case you may set this to Manual.

Network DDE. Provides network transport & security for Dynamic Data Exchange. Set this to Automatic if you use DDE connections (More than likely you won't need this unless using certain legacy applications). DDE is a type of IPC (InterProcess Communication). If you need this you generally should know that. Otherwise, set this to Manual. Supports network transport of DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) connections.

Network DDE DSDM. Manages shared dynamic data exchange & is used by Network DDE. Set this to Automatic if you have set the Network DDE Service to Automatic. Otherwise, set it to Manual.

NT LM Security Support Provider. Provides security to Remote Procedure Call programs that use transports other than named pipes. For improved security with RPC Applications you should set this to Automatic. If you don't use many of these you may save some Memory by setting this to Manual.

Performance Logs & Alerts. Configures performance logs & alerts. If you have your system configured to track events/system performance, etc. upon system startup set this to Automatic. If your system isn't configured like this leave it set to Manual.

Plug & Play. Manages device installation & configuration & notifies programs of device changes. Set this to Automatic. It will make hardware installation far easier.

Print Spooler. Loads files to memory for later printing. If you don't have a Printer installed (Network, or local) you can set this to Manual. If you have a printer installed, or intend to install a printer then set this to Automatic. You can read more in this MS Knowledge Base article.

Protected Storage. Provides protected storage for data, such as private keys, to prevent access by unauthorized services, processes, or users. If your system contains such sensitive data then you should set this to Automatic (to keep it protected at all time). When set to Manual you may find this causes problems with certain programs, e.g. Outlook Express or Internet Explorer's Autocomplete feature, if so then set this back to Automatic.

QoS RSVP. Provides network signaling & local traffic control setup functionality for QoS-aware programs & control applets. Leave this set to Manual, most users will not be using such programs & have no need to set it to Automatic. You should generally know whether or not you need this enabled.

Remote Access Auto Connection Manager. Creates a connection to a remote network whenever a program references a remote DNS or NetBIOS name or address. In most instances you should be able to set this to Manual without any issue. Although if you are using a modem to provide Internet connectivity it is recommended you set this to Automatic (Personally I've not found this to be the case however).

Remote Access Connection Manager. Creates a network connection. Leave this set to Automatic if you are connecting to a network. Those not connected to a network should be able to set this to Manual.

Remote Procedure Call (RPC). Provides the endpoint mapper & other miscellaneous RPC services. Set this Service to Automatic. Setting it to Manual/Disable can cause problems, in my experience at least it will stop any Internet activity from occurring.

Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator. Manages the RPC name service database. Much like the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Service above you should also leave this set to Automatic if available.

Remote Registry Service. Allows remote registry manipulation. You should set this to Disable unless the Network administrator needs to be able to enter each PC's registry remotely, in which case a setting of Automatic would be more appropriate. Selecting Disable is also a useful security feature in case a Malicious user manages to obtain the Administrator's password & intends to remotely perform harmful acts to your systems registry.

Removable Storage. Manages removable media, drives, & libraries. If you have such devices, e.g. Tape drives (not CD\DVD\Floppy drives), then this set to Automatic. Otherwise you may leave it on Manual. NOTE – If set to Manual you will need to Start this service before using the Backup program with such backup devices.

Routing & Remote Access. Offers routing services to businesses in local area & wide area network environments. If that description fits your system/network type then set this to Automatic, otherwise leave it set it to Manual.

RunAs Service. Enables starting processes under alternate credentials. You should set this to Manual, this can allow you to say, use WindowsUpdate when logged on as a user other than the Administrator (many updates require you to be logged on as an Administrator to install).

For example, to use the RunAs service with WindowsUpdate - Click on Start, hold down the Shift key, Right click on WindowsUpdate & click RunAs, then Run the program as BACKUP/Administrator. For security purposes you would be best advised to set this to Disable, particularly on systems which are accessed by multiple users & you don't want the risk of them guessing an Users password with Administrative privileges necessary to perform certain tasks.

Security Accounts Manager. Stores security information for local user accounts. Leave this set to Manual if you haven't changed any Security policies via the Local Security Policy editor. If you have made Security Policy changes set this to Automatic in order that the policies may be applied at User logon.

Server. Provides RPC support & file, print, & named pipe sharing. If you have IIS 5.0 installed & active on your machine it is recommended that you set this to Manual. Set this to Automatic should you wish to make Offline files available to others, assuming their machines support SMB (Server Message Block-based) File & Printer Sharing.

Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP). Transports electronic mail across the network. Should your machine provide an SMTP server then set this to Automatic. You may leave it set to Manual at all other times.

Smart Card. Manages & controls access to a smart card inserted into a smart card reader attached to the computer. If you use a SmartCard (not likely for home users) then you can set this to Disabled or Manual. If you do happen to use a smart card system set this to Automatic.

Smart Card Helper. Provides support for legacy smart card readers attached to the computer. If you use a SmartCard (not likely for home users) then you can set this to Disabled or Manual. If you do happen to use a smart card system set this to Automatic.

System Event Notification. Tracks system events such as Windows logon, network, & power events. Notifies COM+ Event System subscribers of these events. I'd recommend leaving this set to Manual, or Automatic depending on how your system is configured (particularly if on a network). Nearly all home users (like myself) can leave this set to Manual with any problems.

Task Scheduler. Enables a program to run at a designated time. Much like Task Scheduler in Windows 98 this can be used to schedule certain programs be to run at specified times & such. Personally I leave this set to Disabled & run the programs myself, although if you need to have task to schedule then set it to Automatic.

TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper Service. Enables support for NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NetBT) service & NetBIOS name resolution. If your Internet connection is setup to enable LMHOSTS Lookup then set this to Automatic. Otherwise you may set this to Manual.

Telephony. Provides Telephony API (TAPI) support for programs that control telephony devices & IP based voice connections on the local computer &, through the LAN, on servers that are also running the service. Leave this set to Automatic, generally this Service is started when you load Windows 2000 anyway, even when set to Manual.

Telnet. Allows a remote user to log on to the system & run console programs using the command line. In the event that you still use Telnet ,or wish to enable others to (Locally or remotely) access your system via Telnet set this to Automatic. Otherwise you should Disable it altogether, this will improve system security as well.

Uninterruptible Power Supply. Manages an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to the computer. If you are connected to such a power supply leave this set to Automatic, otherwise leave it Manual.

Utility Manager. Starts & configures accessibility tools from 1 window. If you don't use (or have Uninstalled) the Accessibility Tools in Windows 2000 you should set this to Disabled/Manual. If you use Accessibility Tools set this to Automatic.

WMDM PMSP Service. This Service is added during installation of Windows Media Player 7 (Or newer). WMDM (Windows Media Device Manager) PMSP (Pre-Message Security Protocol) is a feature of the Windows Media Format SDK, which supports the SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) for packaging copyrighted music. Applications developed with WMDM will enable users to copy their music compact disc (CD) collection, as well as protected music downloaded from the Web, to SDMI-compliant portable music players & SDMI-compliant portable storage devices (such as flash memory cards). If you are intending to transfers music to SDMI-compliant portable devices (I know of no such devices existing currently) then set this to Automatic, otherwise you may safely leave this set to Manual. Thanks to Patrick Gagnon, Seth Hanford & Chanur Silvarian for their help with information about this Service.

Windows Installer. Installs, repairs & removes software according to instructions contained in .MSI files. Leave this set to Manual. This will allow you to Install/Uninstall/Repair programs listed in the Add/Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel. You should set this to Disable this if you don't wish others to have the ability to change any software installation, or to install Programs/Hardware which use the Windows Installer.

Windows Management Instrumentation. Provides system management information. WMI is a management infrastructure in Windows 2000 that supports monitoring & controlling system resources through a common set of interfaces & provides a logically organized, consistent model of Windows operation, configuration, & status. Leave this set to Automatic.

Windows Management Instrumentation Driver Extensions. Provides systems management information to & from drivers. This should be set to Automatic as it seemingly gets Started even if you set it to Manual. Setting it to Disable (Or attempting to Stop the service) will display the following error window.

Windows Time. Sets the computer clock. You may leave this Service set to Manual.

Workstation. Provides network connections & communications. Should you have the Alerter or Messenger Services set to Automatic then set this to Automatic also. Otherwise you should be able to safely set this to Manual instead.

World Wide Web Publishing Service. Provides Web connectivity & administration through the Internet Information Services snap-in. If you have IIS 5.0 installed, & is configured to provide a Website on your machine set this to Automatic, otherwise leave it set to Manual.

Should you find that any of the Services you have attempted setting to Manual are Started when Windows 2000 is loaded you should set them to Automatic instead. You may verify this by checking the Status tab in the Services Utility in Administrative Tools.

Recovery

You may also customize the Recovery options for a Service in the event the Service fails/stops running for some reason. To do so, Right click on the Service in question, select Properties, then the Recovery tab. Most Users should leave the Failure response setting at their default, although a minority of you (System Administrators take note) may benefit from changing the default Failure response settings. Options available are as follows;

Take No Action. As you can probably guess, selecting this option will result in no action being taken should the Service fail.

Restart the Service. Windows 2000 will attempt to re-initialize the Service in the event of it failing. Upon selecting this option you may set the amount of time (In minutes) that you wish the service to be re-initialized in the Restart service after field.

Run a File. Should the Service fail Windows 2000 will run a file, as selected in the Run File section of this tab. Ideally, the file which is selected to run should require a minimal amount of User input (Preferably none at all).

Reboot the Computer. Should the Service fail, the Computer will reboot & restart Windows. This setting should be considered the final option you select, rather than a first.

Reset fail count after. In this field set the number of days after which you wish the Failure count to be reset. I'd recommend leaving this set to 0.

First/Second/Subsequent failures. In this drop down menus select the Action you wish to take should the Service fail. The options available are described above, e.g. For First failure you might select Restart the Service, while for the Second failure you could select Reboot the Computer, & so on.

Conclusion

By now you should have finished customizing your system Services settings. Hopefully by now you will have reduced the amount of Memory consumed by the Services program (services.exe), disabled certain Services to improve your systems security or just configured the Services to enhance your Networked environment, or Standalone operating environment.

In my case with default installation settings for system Services, they used around 4MB of memory. After customizing the Startup type for the Services, disabling others & Uninstalling other Services, memory consumption for services.exe was reduced by almost 60%, down to 1.4MB of memory.

If you are interested in further tweaking Windows 2000 then check out our OS & Software Resources section for other Windows 2000 specific guides. This guide may be updated in the future with more relevant information, such as extra Services & such. Email me with any comments/suggestions you may have about this guide.

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