Hello Internet, soy tu gatito guion residente. And today I have a topic that effects the majority of computer users and that is windows overhead wasting system resources. This is a topic that many in the tech sphere have covered before and indeed you can even download a PowerShell script that will disable many of these services and telemetry functions. However the problem with this one size fits all approach is that there may be a legitimate reason you want to run one or more of these services or features.
Knowledge is power so today I am going to describe some of the most common of these services, what they do, and why you might want to keep them. I’ll also include a brief guide on how to disable these services so that you can configure your computer to your preferences. Without further ado lets begin; There is a menu on your computer called “Services” the easiest way to access this menu is to simply search for “Services” in your windows search bar. You should see a window that looks like this:
Once you’re here the process for disabling a service is as easy as right clicking on a line item, clicking properties and then changing the startup type to disabled in the drop-down menu seen here:
Now that you know how to disable these services lets talk about what they do and why you might want to disable them. Here is a short list of some of the most commonly disabled services and what they do.
- Xbox services: These services all pertain to the Xbox functionality integrated into windows 10. You should see 3-4 services that start with Xbox and if you are using your computer for work there is no reason to leave them enabled as they will waste system resources.
- Bluetooth services: These services pertain to the Bluetooth protocol, if your system does not have the hardware required to use Bluetooth they can be safely disabled.
- Certificate Propagation: The certificate refers to cryptographic certificates used as a form of authentication, however this particular services handles smart cards and if you aren’t using them it is safe to disable.
- Connected User Experiences and Telemetry: The astute among you may associate the world Telemetry with Spyware and honestly that assessment is far from wrong, while Telemetry does have legitimate uses in software many companies Microsoft included have gone beyond the stated purpose of Telemetry to instead collect data on users that is then sold to interested parties. At the risk of never being hired by Microsoft I have to say if there is one thing on this list everyone should disable its this.
- Downloaded Maps Manager: Exactly what it says on the tin, this service handles mapping data for applications that need it. If you don’t use windows map apps and instead use google maps in a browser then you don’t need this service.
- Fax: Another self explanatory service, this handles faxing allowing you to send and receive digital facsimiles of various documents provided you have the appropriate hardware. Depending on what you use your PC for depends on if you need this or not.
- GameDVR and Broadcast User Service: This contains functionality for recording game footage, the majority of people will never use this. You may encounter difficulty disabling this service in which case you would need to go into the Registry and change some settings, unless you are already familiar with the Windows Registry its better to just leave things alone than risk causing an issue by attempting to modify the Registry.
- Geolocation Service: This is somewhat polarizing, if you value privacy you will most likely want to disable this, which will then prevent windows apps like Weather, Maps, Etc from knowing your location. However if you don’t see the harm in sharing your location and wish to have the convenience of this feature then firstly you probably aren’t a frequent reader of my blog, Welcome! And secondly you’re going to want to leave this enabled.
- Microsoft Account Sign-in Assistant: This allows users to sign in with their Microsoft Account, If you’re here reading this I hope you’re using a local user account to log into your PC but if for some reason you are not then you would want to leave this enabled.
- Netlogon: Netlogon is used for networking in larger organizations, for home users you’re not going to need this unless for some reason you have a domain. For work computers you shouldn’t be changing your settings based on the advice of a Tech Enthusiast blog without talking with your IT department first and if you are the IT department let me know if you’re hiring.
- Parental Controls: This service manages parental controls for child accounts in windows, without it you cant use the parental controls.
- Payments and NFC/SE Manager: This is a another hardware/use case specific one, NFC stands for Near Field Communication, its that thing that lets you tap your credit card to pay at the store or link an Amiibo to your Nintendo Switch. If your PC has the hardware and you want to use NFC technology then you should leave it enabled, but this service runs in the background by default and on a gaming PC its a waste of system resources.
- Phone Service: This is another weirdly specific one, if you wanted to and you have the right hardware you can connect your phone to your windows PC. For some business users this is a useful feature but many will find it unneeded.
- Print Spooler: A Print Spooler holds print jobs in your computers memory and then sends them to the printer when its ready to print. If you want to use a printer then you need this service, however if you do not own a printer or have no intention of printing things from your gaming PC then this is another one that is safe to disable.
- Remote Registry: The Windows Registry is a database of configuration options and settings used by various low level parts of your computer, its incredibly powerful if you know how to use it because its working much closer to your computers hardware than most settings options. What this service allows is for remote users to modify registry settings on the computer, there are legitimate applications that use this service but the majority of them are enterprise level applications you would not be running on your home PC. Unless you’re running some kind of software that needs this I would highly recommend disabling it.
- Retail Demo Service: If you have ever been to a Bestbuy and tried using one of the display computers then you have seen what this service does. You should disable it unless for some reason you want to use your PC as a retail display.
- Smart Card: Smart Card and the two other Smart Card services handle the use of Smart Cards with your PC. This is a very useful security feature for enterprise users however most home PC do not have smart card readers or a need for them so it can be safely disabled.
- TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper: This provides support for the NetBIOS over TCP/IP service. What does that mean? Well in non technical terms NetBIOS is what allows you to use networked printers, share files and log on remotely to other computers on your network. NetBIOS is a historically insecure protocol however it is also a useful protocol. If you only have a single PC on your network you use for something like gaming then you can disable this service without issue however if you do want the features NetBIOS provides then you should leave it running.
- Telephony: This is used for certain VOIP applications, Faxing, Dial-up modems, some DSL providers, Some VPN’s and various other things related to phone lines. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to disable this without issue but I would not recommend it as it does not run in the background by default and its likely you will find yourself in a position where you need it.
- Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service: This is another hardware specific service, if you have a touchscreen or stylus then this service will be needed to operate properly. However many desktop PC do not have this hardware and can safely disable this service.
- WalletService: Honestly I cant find any documentation on this, I believe its related to Microsoft Wallet which has been rebranded as Microsoft Pay. I’ll let you decide for yourself how you feel about this one as I cannot confirm at this time that its safe to disable (although it probably is)
- Windows Biometric Service: If you have biometric devices on your PC this is needed to use them. For example a fingerprint reader or face unlocker. If you don’t then you can disable this to free up some system resources.
- Windows Error Reporting Service: This service generates error reports and makes log files when programs stop working or responding. It can be safely disabled but then you will not get logs which could be useful in attempting to remedy the problem.
- Windows Image Acquisition (WIA): This is used by scanners and cameras, if you don’t use either it can be safely disabled.
- Windows Insider Service: This is needed to use the Windows Insider Program, if you don’t use it then you can safely disable this service.
- Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service: This uses the UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) protocol to share your Windows Media Player libraries to other networked devices/media players. If you don’t use Windows Media Player then you can disable this.
- Windows Camera Frame Server: This allows multiple clients to access video from connected cameras. If you disable it your webcam may stop working, if you don’t have a webcam then its safe to disable.
- Windows Connect Now – Config Registrar: This is used for Windows Connect Now, which is Microsoft’s implementation of the notoriously insecure WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) protocol, This can safely be disabled as you should NEVER have WPS enabled on your router because if you do you are literally allowing anyone with a basic knowledge of computers the ability to hack your WiFi. Its dangerous and you cannot afford to be caviler about this.
- Windows Mobile Hotspot Service: Just as your phone can use its cellular data connection to allow other devices into the internet so can a cellular enabled windows PC. If you don’t have a cellular enabled computer then this is safe to disable.
- Windows Search: Last on our list is Windows Search, if you don’t want to use Windows Search then you can disable this service. However I would highly recommend simply altering your firewall to disable certain features of windows search instead of entirely removing the search bar from your computer. Stay tuned as that is a topic that I hope to cover in the future.
And there you have it folks, that’s Killer Kat’s non exhaustive list of 30 windows services you can disable. Now if you read this far into the article then you’re a Web-Scraper script according to my analytics page, however if you are a human being then you may have noticed that many of these features are not currently running and instead only a handful are running on your PC currently. The reason why is that many of these services will only run if something prompts them to, the automatic ones are usually hardware based because its easier to waste RAM running touchscreen support on all computers than attempt to troubleshoot it when computers with touchscreens aren’t running it.
Windows is designed to run with minimal tech knowledge or user input, and this comes at two costs: One the literal cost of system resources being used by unneeded features thus driving up your electricity bill (and perhaps making users buy stronger computers to compensate), and the second being that Microsoft makes quite a bit of their revenue by collecting and selling information on their users, this is why Windows is so inexpensive and often ships preinstalled on many computers. Selling user data to cover costs is nothing new, most social media sites operate in a similar manner. however selling user data is also the reason why Microsoft really really wants you to use a Microsoft account; It helps them keep track of all of your user data much more efficiently, they aren’t going to spend money hosting the infrastructure for something like the Microsoft account if its going to loose money.
Let me know if you have any questions or if I got anything wrong, the comments below are always open for discussion. If you liked this then consider subscribing to get more content like this delivered to your inbox for free, and with that this is your Resident Script Kitty, Killer Kat signing off stay safe out there in this Cyberpunk dystopia we call home!