Information that makes life easier when it comes to installing, managing, and using Windows Vista.
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Vista's Services

Application Experience - 71,106 views

Processes application compatibility cache requests for applications as they are launched

Application Information - 31,861 views

Facilitates the running of interactive applications with additional administrative privileges. If this service is stopped, users will be unable to launch applications with the additional administrative privileges they may require to perform desired user tasks.

Application Layer Gateway - 23,221 views

Provides support for 3rd party protocol plug-ins for Internet Connection Sharing.

Application Management - 12,857 views

Processes installation, removal, and enumeration requests for software deployed through Group Policy. If the service is disabled, users will be unable to install, remove, or enumerate software deployed through Group Policy.

Background Intelligent Transfer - 16,699 views

Transfers files in the background using idle network bandwidth. If the service is disabled, then any applications that depend on BITS, such as Windows Update or MSN Explorer, will be unable to automatically download programs and other information.

Base Filtering Engine - 58,273 views

The Base Filtering Engine (BFE) is a service that manages firewall and Internet Protocol security (IPsec) policies and implements user mode filtering. Stopping or disabling the BFE service will significantly reduce the security of the system. It will also result in unpredictable behavior in IPsec management and firewall applications.

Block Level Backup Engine - 20,934 views

Engine to perform block level backup and recovery of data.

Certificate Propagation - 21,058 views

Propagates certificates from smart cards.

CNG Key Isolation - 122,588 views

The CNG key isolation service is hosted in the LSA process. The service provides key process isolation to private keys and associated cryptographic operations as required by the Common Criteria. The service stores and uses long-lived keys in a secure process complying with Common Criteria requirements.

COM+ Event System - 15,626 views

Supports System Event Notification Service (SENS), which provides automatic distribution of events to subscribing Component Object Model (COM) components. If the service is stopped, SENS will close and will not be able to provide logon and logoff notifications.

COM+ System Application - 17,072 views

Manages the configuration and tracking of Component Object Model (COM)+ based components. If the service is stopped, most COM+ based components will not function properly.

Computer Browser - 67,954 views

Maintains an updated list of computers on the network and supplies this list to computers designated as browsers. If this service is stopped, this list will not be updated or maintained.

Cryptographic Services - 23,473 views

With the importance of security in Vista, this is a service you’ll definitely be needing. Cryptographic Services is required for Windows Update and installing signed drivers, among other features of Vista. If you disable this, Vista will automatically set it back to Manual and start the service when needed, so there is little point in [...]

DCOM Server Process Launcher - 46,280 views

A supporting service to all DCOM services, this one is very necessary. Look at the list below of services that rely on it, and it looks like almost all of them. You definitely don’t want to disable this one, and if my machine is any indication, you can’t disable it (mine greys out the option [...]

Desktop Window Manager Session Manager - 41,766 views

This service controls the Desktop Window Manager (DWM), which is responsible for Aero (transparent windows, etc). Without this service, you won’t have Aero effects. DWM consumes a fair amount of RAM which increases with each window you have open (open 30 IE windows and you’ll likely exceed 100MB) as well as CPU (mine typically bounces [...]

DFS Replication - 22,570 views

Introduced in Windows 2003 Server, DFS Replication can be used to keep files synchronized across multiple computers on a network. It uses compression and can update just the changed blocks from a file, so it is very efficient. If you don’t plan to synchronize files across multiple computers, you don’t need this service, but since [...]

DHCP Client - 22,043 views

Every computer on the internet needs an IP address. Depending on the network you are on, you might be told what address to use, which you then manually configure in your operating system, or more often than not, the network you are connected to will automatically assign you an address. That automatic assignment is done [...]

Diagnostic Policy Service - 75,028 views

Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI) is a collection of diagnostic tools that can help find the source of many common disk, memory and network problems. In addition, it can warn you of impending failures so you can either react to fix them, or at least save your data while you can. The Diagnostic Policy Service (DPS) [...]

Diagnostic Service Host - 37,998 views

Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI) is a collection of diagnostic tools that can help find the source of many common disk, memory and network problems. In addition, it can warn you of impending failures so you can either react to fix them, or at least save your data while you can. The Diagnostic Service Host works [...]

Diagnostic System Host - 29,577 views

Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure (WDI) is a collection of diagnostic tools that can help find the source of many common disk, memory and network problems. In addition, it can warn you of impending failures so you can either react to fix them, or at least save your data while you can. The Diagnostic System Host works [...]

Distributed Link Tracking Client - 19,676 views

The Distributed Link Tracking Client is used to maintain links to files on NTFS volumes on a computer or between computers in a domain. These links can be both shell shortcuts (like the ones in your Start Menu) as well as OLE application links (such as an Excel spreadsheet stored within a Word document). This [...]

Distributed Transaction Coordinator - 11,318 views

The Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MDTC) has been around for quite a while. It helps applications communicate with multiple data sources as part of one transaction, acting like a traffic cop to help each request get to the proper source. Two examples of applications that use MDTC are Microsoft’s Personal Web Server, and Microsoft SQL [...]

DNS Client - 21,766 views

The DNS Client is not specifically required to use the internet. What it does do is try to improve your internet experience. The most basic way it does this is by caching domain name addresses, which speeds up the browsing experience. This service also determines if an IPv4 or IPv6 address would be more appropriate [...]

Extensible Authentication Protocol - 13,283 views

Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) is used to authenticate Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)-based connections, which can include dial-up or VPN access. It also is used to authenticate to Ethernet switches and wireless access points (APs) when using 802.1X based networks. See the Wikipedia page for an overview of EAP. Because it is set to manual by default, [...]

Fax - 23,558 views

The Fax service quite simply ‘enables faxing from your computer’. Though this would seem to be most useful for home users (businesses tend to have dedicated fax machines), it is not available in Vista Home Basic or Home Premium. The service enables both transmitting and receiving, as well as routing and archiving. If you search [...]

Function Discovery Provider Host - 31,512 views

The Function Discovery Provider Host service allows resources to be discovered over the network. One of the more notable resources that depend on this is the Media Center Extender (an XBOX that can play media from your computer), but it can also be used to discover networked cameras, printers, disks, etc. If you are fine [...]

Function Discovery Resource Publication - 29,798 views

There’s not a lot of info available on the Function Discovery Resource Publication service. Based on it’s name and description, it is the broadcast side of the Function Discovery Provider Host; It advertises shared resources like disks, printers, scanners, etc. If you aren’t networked to other computers, then their should be no need for this, [...]

Group Policy Client - 23,737 views

Group Policy is an infrastructure used to deliver and apply one or more desired configurations or policy settings to a set of targeted users and computers within an Active Directory environment.. Previously handled by Winlogon, group policies are now controlled by the Group Policy Client. The service has been ‘hardened’ due to the strong ties [...]

Health Key and Certificate Management - 20,234 views

The Health Key and Certificate Management service is necessary to manage X.509 certificates. These may be necessary for security related protocols such as SSL/TLS, IPSec, S/MIME, Smartcard, SSH, HTTPS, LDAPv3, and EAP. Many of these protocols are commonly used in corporate settings, but are also often necessary for home users as well. Since this service [...]

Human Interface Device Access - 16,714 views

You most likely have at least two Human Interface Devices (HID) attached to your computer (I have seven devices that my computer sees as HIDs). Some of these devices have extra features beyond the standard keyboard and mouse functions, and the Human Interface Device Access service is required for these extra functions to work. This [...]

IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules - 23,691 views

Required for using IKE and AuthIP, the IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules service is most commonly needed for security aspects of corporate networks, such as establishing a VPN. Though it’s probably not needed by the average home user, and most websites suggest you can disable it, Microsoft strongly recommends that this service remain enabled, [...]

Interactive Services Detection - 173,718 views

One of the ways Vista’s security was improved was by separating system services and user applications into separate ‘sessions’. Keeping the system services isolated helps to better secure them, but also makes any interactive interface unavailable to the user. That’s where the Interactive Services Detection service comes in. When a service needs to interact with [...]

Internet Connection Sharing - 15,108 views

The Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) service allows your Vista computer to act like a network router. This can allow you to share one internet connection with other computers. The computer with ICS running must have multiple network cards, and must remain running for the other computers to access the internet. For these reasons, a network [...]

IP Helper - 20,720 views

Not to be confused with the IP Helper API, or the IP Helper software, the IP Helper service allows you to use IPv6 features while still on an IPv4 network. Sean Siler, IPv6 Program Manager at Microsoft said “IPHelper is responsible for a lot within the TCP/IP stack and is required for proper operation of [...]

IPsec Policy Agent - 22,233 views

The IPsec Policy Agent retrieves policy information from Active Directory, or from the local registry, and distributes it to other components that make use of the policy information. The typical home user does not need this service, and can safely disable it. Enterprise users, or those that use a VPN will want to leave this [...]

KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator - 51,043 views

This service coordinates transactions between Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC) and Kernel Transaction Manager (KTM). MSDTC performs the transaction coordination role for components, usually with COM and .NET architectures, and KTM prevents a series of database operations from occurring only partially, so either all occur, or all do not occur. These functions are used in [...]

Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper - 27,035 views

A network map shows the devices that are physically connected to the network, and includes some basic information about each device. This can help in troubleshooting networking problems. The Link-Layer Topology Discovery Mapper service probes the network looking for these devices. It does not require IP, and the quality of the network map increases as [...]

Microsoft .NET Framework NGEN - 20,400 views

The Native Image Generator (NGEN) “…is a tool that improves the performance of managed applications. Ngen.exe creates native images, which are files containing compiled processor-specific machine code, and installs them into the native image cache on the local computer. The runtime can use native images from the cache instead using the just-in-time (JIT) compiler to [...]

Microsoft iSCSI Initiator - 112,681 views

The iSCSI Initiator service allows Vista to connect to SCSI devices attached to a network. See more information on Microsoft’s iSCSI implementation here. This service is only required if you need to connect to an iSCSI device, so it can be safely disabled, but since it’s only run when required, there is little reason to [...]

Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider - 13,704 views

Shadow Copy is a feature of Vista that allows previous versions of files (point-in-time copies) to be saved and restored if needed, a sort of ‘backup’ system. See here and here for more information on Shadow Copies. The Volume Shadow Copy service is the main coordination component of this feature. Though a hardware based ‘provider’ [...]

Multimedia Class Scheduler - 17,502 views

The Multimedia Class Scheduler service (MMCSS) is similar to Quality of Service (QOS) for networking; it provides multimedia applications with priority for more CPU time if it is needed while still allowing lower-priority applications to get the resources they need. Though the description says if the service is stopped the prioritization simply goes to the [...]

Net.Tcp Port Sharing - 11,788 views

A part of WCF, the Net.Tcp Port Sharing service enables net.tcp ports to be shared across multiple user processes. Microsoft notes that “The Net.TCP Port Sharing Service does expose several configuration options that allow you to manipulate several characteristics of the network sockets owned by the port sharing service.” It is for this security reason [...]

Netlogon - 23,280 views

When a computer is joined to a domain, the Netlogon service allows users and services to authenticate to the domain through a secure channel. If your computer is not part of a domain, you do not need this service, but since it is only run manually, there is no benefit to disabling it.

Network Access Protection Agent - 16,803 views

New in Windows Vista, the Network Access Protection Agent service is used for controlling network access of a computer based on its ‘health’. The ‘health’ of the system is determined by a policy defined by the network administrator which might measure parameters like anti-virus signature level, firewall status, or OS patch levels in an effort [...]

Network Connections - 76,981 views

There isn’t much information available for this service. The generic description makes it seem important, but I’ve looked high and low and can’t even find a “Network and Dial-Up Connections” folder. On my machine this service was started, so something woke it from it’s Manual startup mode, but I’ve disabled the service, and have not [...]

Network List - 76,417 views

The Network List service works with the Network Location Awareness service to keep you (and your applications) informed of the status of your network connections. With this service disabled your ‘Network and Sharing Center’ won’t be able to detect the status of your network connection. You also won’t get any status information from the Network [...]

Network Location Awareness - 17,754 views

The Network Location Awareness service works with the Network List service to keep you (and your applications) informed of the status of your network connections. With this service disabled your ‘Network and Sharing Center’ won’t be able to detect the status of your network connection. You also won’t get any status information from the Network [...]

Network Store Interface - 20,244 views

The Network Store Interface service is one of the more important services, necessary if you wish to connect to a network. The service keeps track of what network interfaces you have, stores routing information for each, and communicates this information with other services that require it. Disable this one, and the rest of the world [...]

Offline Files - 14,789 views

As described by the program manager for Offline Files in Windows Vista, this feature “enables access to files on an SMB server even when the client is not connected to the server.” This service maintains the Offline Files cache, located by default at c:\windows\csc. If you don’t access files from a server, or don’t require [...]

Parental Controls - 12,815 views

The parental controls built into Windows Vista are designed to help parents manage what their children can do on the computer. For this to work, the applications you wish to control access to must be compatible with Windows Parental Controls, and this service must be enabled. If you don’t have kids, or don’t care to [...]

Peer Name Resolution Protocol - 14,390 views

First available in the Advanced Networking Pack for Windows XP, PNRP is a distributed name resolution protocol allowing Internet hosts to publish “peer names” and the corresponding IPv6 address. Other hosts can then resolve the name, retrieve the corresponding address, and establish peer-to-peer connections. Noah Horton, Program Manager in charge of PNRP, has a lot [...]

Peer Networking Grouping - 13,197 views

Peer Networking Grouping is part of Microsoft’s Peer-to-Peer Networking component, which also includes Peer Name Resolution Protocol. By default, grouping is the security layer that defines the security model behind group creation, invitation, and connection to the group. If you don’t use Windows Meeting, or other P2P enabled programs, or have disabled PNRP, then it [...]

Peer Networking Identity Manager - 19,159 views

Peer Networking Identity Manager is part of Microsoft’s Peer-to-Peer Networking component, which also includes Peer Name Resolution Protocol and Peer Networking Grouping. Identity manager permits the creation and use of peer-to-peer identities in PNRP and grouping. If you don’t use Windows Meeting, or other P2P enabled programs, or have disabled PNRP, then it is safe [...]

Performance Logs & Alerts - 22,103 views

As explained on TechNet, this service collects performance data automatically from local or remote computers. You can then view the data using System Monitor or export the data to spreadsheet programs or databases for analysis and report generation. Note that this service isn’t required to run the Performance Monitor, available as part of the Perfmon [...]

Plug and Play - 16,730 views

Here’s one you definitely shouldn’t disable, and Vista doesn’t give you the ability to do so through Services.msc. Plug and Play (PnP) automatically discovers hardware attached to your computer, and helps make it operable. This shouldn’t be confused with UPnP, which is used to connect to devices via TCP over a network.

PnP-X IP Bus Enumerator - 17,430 views

If you have a network with other devices on it, you may need this service. This service is responsible for looking on the network for devices, and including them in a ‘Plug and Play’ fashion among the hardware available to your computer. An example would be locating a Media Center Extender on your network, and [...]

PNRP Machine Name Publication - 11,730 views

PNRP is a distributed name resolution protocol allowing Internet hosts to publish “peer names” and the corresponding IPv6 address. This basically allows every machine running PNRP to have it’s own name on the internet without having to register a specific domain name. Originally available in Windows XP SP2, it is now part of Windows Vista, [...]

Portable Device Enumerator - 16,279 views

This service helps make your portable devices, like a Zune, accessible to programs within Vista, like Media Player. If you don’t have any portable devices that you want available to software within Vista, you can safely disable this service. Note that an iPod does not use this service to communicate with iTunes, so you can [...]

Print Spooler - 17,435 views

This one is pretty easy to understand. If you need to print (note that not all print devices are physical printers, they could be XPS or PDF writers, etc), you need this service. If you never print, you can disable this service and save around 3-4MB of RAM. You can also disable this service temporarily [...]

Problem Reports and Solutions Control Panel Support - 211,531 views

Occasionally when a problem occurs you may be prompted to send information about the issue to Microsoft. This helps Microsoft see where problems are occurring for their users, and sometimes suggestions on how to fix the problem are then given. If you never submit your information to Microsoft, this service isn’t needed, but since it’s [...]

Program Compatibility Assistance - 16,772 views

As stated by Microsoft: The Program Compatibility Assistant detects known compatibility issues in older programs. After you have run an older program in this version of Windows, it notifies you if there is a problem and offers to fix it the next time you run the program. If the compatibility issue is serious, the Program [...]

Protected Storage - 63,893 views

Once used heavily by Outlook and Internet Explorer to store sensitive information, Protected Storage (PStore) has been depreciated to read-only in Windows Vista in favor of the more secure Data Protection API (DPAPI). Browsing the internet you’ll find a number of programs that allow you to browse through the contents of Protected Storage on previous [...]

Quality Windows Audio Video Experience - 14,554 views

Most useful for those running Media Center, Quality Windows Audio Video Experience (qWave) is described by Microsoft as: “qWave is a collection of QoS-related software modules that run on devices in the home network. qWave supports multiple A/V streams (real-time flows requiring QoS) and data streams (best-effort flows, such as e-mail) simultaneously over the home [...]

ReadyBoost - 12,808 views

ReadyBoost uses flash memory devices as a disk cache which can help “service random disk reads with performance that is typically 80-100 times faster than random reads from traditional hard drives.” You might think that if you aren’t connecting a flash drive, you don’t need this service, but ReadyBoost is also used to facilitate SuperFetch, [...]

Remote Access Auto Connection Manager - 20,203 views

As described by Microsoft, “The Remote Access Auto Connection Manager service maps and maintains network addresses to connection destinations. This allows a destination to be automatically dialed from a program or from the command prompt. A network address can be an Internet host name, an Internet Protocol (IP) address, or a NetBIOS server name.” Though [...]