Disable unnecessary services in Windows 2000 for better performance

Boost your system's performance by disabling system services with this step-by-step guide.

If you're using Windows 2000 Professional then you already know that it's faster and more stable than previous versions of Windows. So you probably haven't even thought about ways to boost its performance. However, there are several things that you can do to get even better performance out of Windows 2000 Professional.

For example, if you're using Windows 2000 Professional as a stand-alone system (desktop or laptop), on a home network, or on a small office peer-to-peer network, you can boost overall system performance by disabling system services that you don't need. The performance boost comes from freeing up RAM being used by unnecessary system services.

In this article, I'll show you how you can boost system performance by disabling system services that you don't need. As I do, I'll pass on some additional secrets that I uncovered while experimenting with this performance booster.

What Are System Services?

System services are actually small helper programs that provide support for other larger programs in Windows 2000. Many of the services are set up to run automatically each time you start Windows 2000. However, if you're not using the larger programs that these services are designed to support, these services are simply wasting RAM that could be put to better use by your applications.

While I used the word disable

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to describe the idea that you'll remove these services from memory, what you'll really be doing is changing the startup setting from Automatic to Manual. When you do, the services won't automatically start each time you launch Windows 2000 Professional. However, Windows 2000 will be able to manually start the services if they're needed. That way you won't be unnecessarily wasting RAM, but you won't be crippling your system.

Wizard Note: If you're running Windows 2000 Professional on a corporate network, you may not be able to adjust system services. Regardless of whether you can or not, you should check with your system administrator before attempting the make these changes.

Changing the Startup Type

Changing the startup type of a service from Automatic to Manual is a relatively simple operation. To begin, open the Control Panel, open the Administrative Tools folder, and then double click the Services tool. When you see the Services window, set the View to Detail if it isn't already. Then click the Startup Type column header to sort the services by Startup Type. When you do, all the Services that start automatically will appear at the top of the list.

As you scan through the list of services on your system whose Startup Type setting is set to Automatic, look for the services in listed in Table A. These services are good candidates to be set to a Manual Startup Type.

Table A: Services that can be changed to Manual Startup Types.

Service: Set to manual if

DHCP Client -- You're not connecting to a specific DHCP server on your local network
Distributed Link
Tracking Client -- You're not connected to a Windows 2000 domain
DNS Client -- You're not connecting to a specific DNS server on your local network
FTP Publishing Service -- You don't need your system to act as an FTP server
IIS Admin Service -- You don't need your system to act as an WWW server
IPSEC Policy Agent -- You're not connected to a Windows 2000 domain
Messenger -- You're not connected to a Windows 2000 domain
Remote Registry
Service -- You don't remotely access the Registry of other systems on your local network
RIP Service -- You don't need your system to act as a router
RunAs Service -- You don't use any applications that run as an alias
World Wide Web
Publishing Service -- You don't need your system to act as an WWW server

If you find a match and think that your system doesn't need that particular service, right-click on the service and choose the Properties command from the shortcut menu. When you see the Properties dialog box for that service, click the Startup Type drop down list and select Manual. Then click OK. As you change the Startup Type for any service, take note of the service's name. That way you'll have a record of which services you changed and can change them back if you need to, as I'll explain in a moment.

Using the Windows Task Manager

Wizard Secret: To determine the amount of RAM you'll regain by disabling unnecessary system services, use the Windows Task Manager. Here's how:

Before you disable any system services, reboot your system and don't launch any applications. If you have applications that automatically load when you start Windows, hold down the [Shift] key to bypass the Startup folder. Then, right click on the task bar and select Task Manager from the shortcut menu. When you see the Windows Task Manager dialog box, select the Performance tab. Now take note of the Available value in the Physical Memory panel.

After you disable those system services you deem unnecessary, reboot your system in the same manner and compare the Available value in the Physical Memory panel to the one that you noted earlier.

More On Services

Keep in mind that you may not find all the services listed in Table A set to Automatic on your system. In fact, you might not even see some of the services listed present on your system. If that's the case, don't worry about it. Each Windows 2000 installation is unique depending on the system and installed software, and different sets of services may be installed and set to start automatically.

On the other hand, you may find services other than those listed in Table A set to Automatic that you may think are unnecessary. If so, you can find out what each service does by hovering your mouse pointer over the service's description. When you do, a tool tip window will pop up and display the entire description of the service. You can then better determine if the service is unnecessary.

Remember, by changing the Startup Type to Manual, Windows 2000 can still start the service if it's needed. If you decide to experiment with changing the Startup Types of certain services, you can monitor the services over time by launching the Services utility and checking the list of running services. If you consistently find one of the services you set to Manual running, you may decide to change the Startup Type back to Automatic.

This was first published in July 2001

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