If you want to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, you might consider disabling some of the built-in Windows services. But which ones should you disable? And which ones can you safely disable?

Important: Disabling Services is Not a Silver Bullet

Here at How-To Geek we’re not big fans of disabling Windows Services – at least, we don’t think that disabling Microsoft services that are built into Windows is a terribly great idea most of the time. Most of them are highly optimized and actually take up almost zero CPU time, and they end up being paged out of active memory to the pagefile, so they aren’t really wasting your system memory anyway. There’s a lot of others that are critical to proper functioning of the operating system, and you’ll break things by just randomly disabling them.

Lest you think we’re crazy, we do recommend disabling services – just not built-in services.  The services that you should examine very closely are all of the third-party services that slow your computer down. If you have a lot of software installed, there’s probably a lot of them. You should remove software you don’t use, and then disable services if necessary (being careful since obviously you can break things).

If you’re using Windows 8, you’ll find that system services have been even more highly optimized, use less memory, and many of them have been combined to use less running processes at the same time. We’d argue that even though the Modern apps are fairly pointless on a laptop or desktop, the regular Desktop on Windows 8 is a lot more streamlined and optimized for speed, so upgrading is not a bad idea for performance alone.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re in the mood to tweak your computer to speed up the performance, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of removing software that you don’t need, replacing lousy software with better alternatives, and making sure that you don’t have any spyware on your PC.

Since you still probably want to know about disabling services, our friends over at the 7 Tutorials web site have written up a set of guidelines to what can be safely disabled, along with some helpful information about why each one can be removed without hurting your PC. You’ll notice that they recommend setting many services to manual instead of disabled (and some of those are already set to manual by default, so disabling them won’t help performance).

Just Give Me a List Already

Since we can’t just refer you to somebody else without adding our own thoughts, here’s our quick list of some built-in Windows services which are generally enabled by default that you can disable safely. When you read the full list over at 7 Tutorials, make sure to read their explanation for each one before just disabling things.

  • Print Spooler (if you don’t use a printer or print-to-PDF)
  • Bluetooth Support (if you don’t use Bluetooth)
  • Remote Registry (it’s not usually running by default, but you can disable it for safety)
  • Remote Desktop (There are 3 services. If you don’t use Remote desktop, disable them)

Note: We don’t recommend disabling the Windows Time service. Disabling it won’t help your PC’s performance (it’s set to manual already and only runs occasionally, and it’s much better to have your computer time set properly, for many reasons including file timestamp integrity.

Disabling Services? I Forgot How

Yeah, most of you probably didn’t forget. Just in case, here’s how. Open up the Windows Start Screen or Start Menu, type in services.msc and hit the Enter key to bring up the Services panel.

Double-click on the item you want to disable, and change the drop-down to Disabled (or Manual if you prefer).

Are you a system tweaker? Do you have experience disabling services? Sound off in the comments and lend your expertise to your fellow readers.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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