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Remove Optional and Probably Unnecessary Windows Vista Components

In the never-ending quest to rid your computer of unnecessary bloat, Windows Vista has a lot less options than prior versions, but you can still get rid of some of the extra Windows components that you don’t need.

Open up Control Panel and go to the Programs and Features section. Find the link for “Turn Windows features on or off” (or you could just search for it)

 image

This dialog is quite self-explanatory… uncheck the things you don’t want, and hit the OK button. Depending on the version of Vista you are running you might not see everything in the list.

image 

Guidelines, Not Set In Stone 

Just to get you started, here’s a few tips on what an average user might want to enable or disable. The rules will be different for everybody, depending on your applications and needs, so don’t take these as absolute.

ActiveX Installer Service No Do you really want anything to do with ActiveX?
Games Why Not Your productivity can only increase with Spider Solitaire on your computer.
Indexing Service No This is the old indexing service that is no longer needed in Vista.
Internet Information Service No Used for hosting websites on your computer.
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 No Used for the new .NET 3.0 components, but only really needed for programmers.
Microsoft Message Queue (MSMQ) Server No Used by programmers as a way to reliably queue messages.
Print Services No You only need this if you use internet printers and like to kill trees. Our rainforests are depending on you disabling this service.
Remote Differential Compression Maybe This is likely required for utilities that use the network to download files. If it is enabled, don’t mess with it.
Removable Storage Management No The only reason you’d need this is if you are restoring from old NTBACKUP files.
RIP Listener No You won’t need this, it’s a routing protocol.
Services for NFS No This can be used to map a drive to a linux NFS server. Unlikely you’d need it since Samba works so well.
SNMP Feature No This is used for management systems in workplace networks. You don’t need it.
Subsystem for UNIX-based Applications No This is used for compatibility with certain applications based on UNIX… you don’t need it.
Tablet PC Optional Components Maybe If you have a Tablet PC, you should enable this. If you don’t, you may still want to because this includes the Snipping Tool.
Telnet Client AVOID You should never use telnet. Ever.
Telnet Server AVOID You should never use telnet. Ever.
TFTP Client AVOID TFTP was used by many of the early internet worms… there’s a reason it’s disabled by default.
Windows DFS Replication Service No This is only really used in work environments. Don’t bother with this if you are a home user.
Windows Fax and Scan No Why anybody still faxes anything is beyond me.
Windows Meeting Space No If you don’t use Windows Meeting Space or the “People Near Me” feature, don’t bother with this.
Windows PowerShell No PowerShell is a more advanced command line geared towards programmers and system administrators.
Windows Process Activation Service Probably This is likely required to support some .NET applications, so I wouldn’t change whatever it’s currently set to.
Windows Ultimate Extras Maybe If you like the extras, then enable them. (Ultimate Only)

Hopefully this will help somebody!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/11/08

Comments (50)

  1. Pipo

    “Your productivity can only increase with Spider Solitaire on your computer.”

    that was funny, i had to read it twice, lol.

  2. Jon

    Once again, thank you for this!
    In the neverending quest to “speed up” my machine I greatly appreciate everything you’ve posted!
    Out of curiosity, why no telnet? I’m only asking since I thought RDC went through telnet?

    Again, thank you!

  3. Tom

    Thanks ^_^ always looking for new ways to get rid of excess crap on my machine :)

    Keep posting!

  4. Anonymous

    That’s the thing, you can and I do remove all items ticked within Programs & Features but you still have a load of applications which I do want or will ever use. And you can’t remove them anywhere… oh Vista!

  5. John

    Geek, my “Windows Feature” list is empty (I waited 5 mins and nothing appeared). Any idea how to get it to display the list?

  6. Alisha

    Almost all of those were already disabled by default for me. Though, I can’t disable the .NET Framework, because my work’s application requires that. I was hoping to disable something! hehe

  7. Smashpmk712

    As a systems admin I use Telnet to troubleshoot every so often. I was surprised when it was disabled by default…. The only way I found out is because I needed it to test something

  8. Tim

    Thanks for this
    I’m upgrading my sisters computer to teh Vista and was wondering about this since her computer is right on the threshold of being able to actually run Vista.
    And to agree even more, telnet is horrible, and its nice to see that more people agree with that fact

  9. jd2066

    @Jon: The Remote Desktop feature in Windows uses RDP a secure protocol that is unrelated to Telnet.
    Telnet is basically a protocol for accessing the command line of a computer remotely.
    SSH does the same thing only it’s a secure protocol.
    Many people including me wonder why Microsoft will include a Telnet client but not an SSH client.

  10. The Geek

    Telnet is an ancient protocol, and is completely insecure… but as Smashpmk712 says, it can be used by sysadmins as a troubleshooting step… mostly to test other protocols like SMTP.

    The average user has no need for telnet, server or client.

  11. jd2066

    If anyone needs to have remote access to the Windows Command Line you can use freeSSHd at http://www.freesshd.com/
    You can then connect to it with PuTTY at http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/
    You can even test protocols like SMTP with PuTTY too.
    So there is really no reason to install the Telnet server or client from that dialog.

  12. Will

    “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 – Used for the new .NET 3.0 components, but only really needed for programmers.”

    You’re thinking of the .NET 3.0 Framework SDK. The .NET 3.0 Framework, however, is the runtime that lets you run .NET 3 applications. Without it, any apps you have that depend on it will either stop working, or require you to reinstall it.

    Remove only if you’re really certain you don’t need it, AND you’re exceptionally short on disk space.

    - Will
    (.NET Developer)

  13. Danny B

    I found most of my boxes were already unchecked and only had to uncheck one box. This was a learning tool for me, Thanks!

  14. EdrickV

    The telnet protocol’s been around a long time and has been used in a wide variety of ways. I’ve used it to control a PS2 running Linux from a Windows PC before. Since it was connected to the PC via an ethernet crossover cable (forming a simple 2 computer network) security was irrelevant. And it was a lot simpler then trying to setup SSH on the PS2.

    One relative of mine used to have to use telnet to access a college E-mail system. Another used telnet (via Hyperterminal, which Microsoft didn’t make and Vista doesn’t include) to get dial-up internet access. And of course there were (and still are) telnet based BBS’s. These days I imagine they’re mostly accessed through the internet rather then a dial-up modem though. Telnet was also one of the earliest Internet Standards. (I’m not sure if SSH’s been accepted as a standard or not yet.)

    However I think most people that are using telnet these days are probably playing various online games that use telnet. (Like MUDs and MUSHes.) They probably won’t use the XP/Vista client very long though since there are far better clients for use with those games.

  15. jd2066

    @Will: I thought the same thing. I emailed the Geek and found out though that the entry in the “Windows Features” list labeled “.NET Framework 3.0″ is just the optional components for it, WCF HTTP Activation, WCF Non-HTTP Activation and XPS Viewer that most users don’t need.
    Apparently .NET Framework 3.0′s mandatory components can not be uninstalled in Vista.

  16. timbuckto

    I understand your comment for the feature below, but does this affect any “Scanning” to be done? I am only assuming so since it has Scanning in the title. Is the scanning mentioned here only a precursor of the faxing system or is it for global scanning with in the system?

    +———————————–+——+———————————————————————-+
    | Windows Fan and Scan | ‘No | Why anybody still faxes anything is beyond me. |
    +———————————–+——+———————————————————————-+

  17. sbw07

    Cool!
    Now how about a post for XP?

  18. jd2066

    @timbuckto: I think that program can be used for scanning but is not required for it. So if you scan things with another program then removing that program will not affect it.

    @sbw07: See the first section at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/305548 for instructions on the same thing for Windows XP.
    Note: The following items may appear in the list but will only remove the shortcuts to the program but not uninstall them: Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Windows Messenger.

  19. montana

    The .net framework is used by some software, such as Quickbooks, but I really like that it enables XPS. I generate almost no paper output now that I’m using XPS documents; it’s native compared to pdf processing.

  20. Aleeve

    THanks! What everyone else said!

  21. hilo_kawika

    Thanks for displaying these options.

    Before seeing this listing, I was unable to properly bring up the Indexing option, apparently because the Indexing box on this list was unchecked. With the box checked, I could re-index files that weren’t being indexed (lots of e-mails, etc…)

  22. sn3j

    for those who have an empty features list: it might help to set up the service “windows modul installer” on “manual” if it’s disabled concerning tuning measures

  23. aditia

    It’s very good.
    Thnk
    But, it’s only increase system 15%

  24. sendoh

    thanks~~ I’m convinced of my previous choice. And added the game back :D

  25. benjamin

    re: “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 – Used for the new .NET 3.0 components, but only really needed for programmers.”

    My HP Total Care Advisor stopped working when I turned off Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 which was only partially on with only the XPS Viewer checked…
    My HP Total Care Advisor started working when I turned on Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 which was only partially on with only the XPS Viewer checked…
    apparently some non programmers need Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0 turned on…
    I was surprised!

  26. Darkling

    Don’t make mistake!!! Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 is used AS for the new .NET 3.0 components needed for .NET 3.0 programs to work. It is different than Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 SDK (Software Development Kit) wich is installed with IDE-s such as Visual Studio…

  27. AlexCovic

    I recently started deleting Vista-stuff from a linux-partition. A lot of things in /system32 is full of unnessessary drivers, languages, etc… – the “administrator”-account is not enough if you try to wipe out these files (there’s always the “system”-account that prevents you from kicking things away. I am recently at around 5 GB core-components on a “Vista Home Premium”. If I find some time, I will proceed with this…

  28. Kurban

    I dont have ActiveX Installer Service listed at all!! How come?
    Kurban

  29. kaz

    You need the fax-and-scan “checked” if you want to use a scanner through Vista. I do not like to install any unnecessary programs. If the OS does it well enough for my needs, then I use it.

    I have an HP all-in-one on my network… I do not use HP’s bloatware. So, I need fax-and-scan “checked”.

    Hope that clarifies things a little.

  30. Courtney

    Thanks! I was looking for a way to turn that damned “People Near Me” off that keeps asking me to share media with another computer every few hours. Why I want to give anyone, especially strangers, the ability to share my media is beyond me. That’s what flash drives are for.

  31. Evert

    ‘Windows Fan and Scan’ ?

    Isn’t it ‘Windows Fax and Scan’? :-P

  32. The Geek

    @Evert: Thanks, typo fixed.

  33. GoldenCupKaKe

    Telnet is a good tool for those people who do penetration testing. if you know what you are doing you can easily test your computer’s security from another computer using telnet. that being said, so can anyone else who knows how to use and find ip and socket combinations. If you need it you are more than likely one of three things: A white hat hacker, a black hat hacker, or a system administrator.

  34. codhead

    I have only been a member here a week and found a lot of good tips.I like how you add pictures to your articles,it realy simplifies things.Thanks for posting info.

  35. Chris

    “Used for the new .NET 3.0 components, but only really needed for programmers.” Really? Shows how much you know

  36. madlhughes

    Thnaks most were already off but now I’m worried about NET Framework 3.0 after reading above. Will I be able to put it back in again as easily as I have taken it out.

  37. Blah Blah Black Sheep

    What I’d really like to do, is remove things like Movie Maker, Calendar, and all the other built-in apps that I don’t want or use. They don’t give you the option for that in the enable/disable apps section. Likewise, there’s an option to “uninstall” IE, but all it does is remove shortcut & startup menus for it. When some programs try to access the web, they still pop up an IE window to do their thing, which is majorly annoying. But, IE is integrated with Windows. I wish they’d make Windows more modular.

  38. bennyrussell

    Group Policy Preferences CSE? Apparently this one is new

  39. Duckbrain

    Do not uninstall the .Net Framework! There is an increasing number of programs that NEED it. (I know, I program in it.) In fact, I recommend that you update the .Net Framework to make sure you don’t loose compatibility with programs.

  40. MikeUK

    Re: Vista Home, and the constant bombardments of updates, my question is it possible to delete/uninstall some of the older updates, or would this have an effect on the running of Vista in other words is it worthit and is it safe to do so.

    Regards.

    Mike

  41. Adam

    Fax ‘n’ Scan enables you to send and receive faxes, if you still have a dial up modem plugged into the wall.

    Using a scanner is covered under WIA, or Windows Image Acquisition.

  42. Sandra

    I have a Toshiba laptop and after following all the above advice, my computer now says the config free is now disabled. Not sure what config free is, from what I can tell it isn’t something I need. Any idea which change caused this? Do I even want or need this program?

    Thanks

    Sandra

  43. Mary

    What is the Silverlight program? Windows keeps trying to install it, but consistently fails. Web directions say to remove any old Silverlight programs that might be hanging around, but the thing is, I don’t have any!

  44. Mrs. C

    I am so thankful for this article!! I just wish that I had found it sooner! It was extremely helpful – and I appreciated the humor, too!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  45. lilsting10

    Could we have an updated one of these for Win 7 (I’m on Home Premium)?
    I have a heck of a lot of entries that I don’t know what to do with.

    Internet Explorer 8
    Internet Information Services
    Internet Information Services Hostable Web Core
    Media Features
    - Windows DVD Maker
    - Windows Media Center
    - Windows Media Player
    Simple Network Management Protocol SNMP
    Simple TCPIP servieces (i.e. echo, daytime etc)
    TFTP Client
    Windows Gadgets Platform
    Windows Process Activation Service
    Windows Search
    Windows TIFF IFilter
    XPS Services
    XPS Viewer

  46. DGM

    the never use telnet is a little short sighted. I can think of a few good reasons to use the telnet client while i’m developing. The telnet server is useful for system administrators that prefer a commandline over clicking.. this is also a lot better over slow(er) networks

  47. Radioactive

    Telnet Client is also useful for testing out SMTP gateways ( email ) , and also if a network port is listening or not.

    The telnet server, however, is useless. for most users.

  48. I. Popia

    Why was .NET Framework ever done ?… It’s such a crap and apps for it move with the speed of a snail, even on fast computers. And it occupies A LOT of space !

  49. Risto Ranta

    Why not remove the worst unnecessary thing in the computer: The Windows itself !
    - The only virus you can use with a mouse.

  50. Jaybee

    I found that turning OFF “Remote Differential Compression” allowed my WD portable USB drive to complete copying of large compressed files. With RDC on, the drive lost connection and the copy failed.

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