If you have installed Windows 2000 yet and used it for a while, you probably noticed that it is a pretty fast performer. But depending on how you're using Windows 2000 and in what type of environment, you can coax even more performance out of it by freeing up extra RAM by disabling system services that are running in the background even though they're not really needed.
At your service
These system services are small Windows 2000 applications running in the background to be available in case they are needed. They are similar to other background applications, e.g. your virus program, etc., with the main difference that system services are installed by and a part of Windows 2000. Even when you just did a clean Windows 2000 installation, there are a lot of services already running in the background by default. Let's find out what services are currently running.
W2K comes with a great management console that allows access to all important system utilities from one central place. This tool is called Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and can be accessed from Start/Settings/Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management or by right-clicking on the My Computer desktop icon and selecting Manage. Drill down to Services and Applications/Services to get to the System Services list. Other ways to get to Services is through Start/Settings/Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services, or Start/Programs/Administrative Tools/Services (if you have Administrative Tools on the Start menu enabled through Start/Settings/Taskbar and Start Menu/Advanced).
Go to System Services via one of the methods described above. You'll now see a long list of services that are currently available. If you take a closer look at the Status column, you'll notice that not all of them are started. In the Startup Type column you can find out whether the service is disabled, can be started manually if so desired, or is being started automatically when Windows 2000 is being loaded. By double-clicking on each service you'll get a properties window with many details about the service, such as name, description, startup type, dependencies, path to the executable, and more.
Out of service
To prevent the service from running, you have two choices: you can either disable it completely, which means it is not available, or you can change the startup type to Manual, which prevents the service from starting automatically each time Windows starts but still keeps it available in case you need to enable it after all.
To change the service startup type from Automatic to Manual, simply bring up the MMC and go to the Services section as described above. Double-click on a service to bring up its properties where you can change the startup type from Automatic to Manual via a drop-down menu. Now let's go over a few common services to see which ones you could disable. If you go through the list and don't see a few of the services mentioned in your list, don't worry. The type of installed services varies slightly from installation to installation, depending on the type of setup, installed software, etc. If you find services listed on your computer that are not listed here, you can double-click on each to see its properties and find out more about it in the description box.
A word of caution
Of course you should exercise caution when disabling system services since you don't want to cripple your OS. If you're not sure or think there might be the slightest chance that the service is needed, leave it alone. It's not worth wrecking your OS over a few extra Megs of RAM. But if you discover that you disabled a service you need after all, you can always come back to the Computer Management console and enable it again with the same steps.
Alerter - Notifies selected users and computers of administrative alerts. If your PC is a standalone work station, you can turn it off. If you're on a network, check with the network administrator whether it's used or not.
DHCP Client - Manages network configuration by registering and updating IP addresses and DNS names. If your PC is a standalone work station, you can turn it off. If you're on a network, check with the network administrator whether it's used or not.
DNS Client - Resolves and caches Domain Name System (DNS) names. If your PC does not need to connect to a DNS server on a local network, e.g. cable modem or office network, you can turn it off.
Indexing Service - Indexes contents and properties of files on local and remote computers; provides rapid access to files through flexible querying language. This service is by default disabled. You can turn it on in the Find File dialog window to allow it to create an index of the files and folders on your hard drive to allow faster searches. If you don't use the Find File feature very often, you can turn it off.
IPSEC Policy Agent - Manages IP security policy and starts the ISAKMP/Oakley (IKE) and the IP security driver. This service is needed for IP security, e.g. if you want to establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to your computer. Otherwise you can turn it off.
Messenger - Sends and receives messages transmitted by administrators or by the Alerter service. If you decided to turn off the Alerter service mentioned above, you can turn off Messenger as well.
Print Spooler - Loads files to memory for later printing. If you don't print from this computer at all, you can turn it off. However, some applications might still require it and force you to turn it back on.
Remote Registry Service - Allows remote registry manipulation. If you don't need or want the ability to access and modify the registry remotely, you can turn it off.
Removable Storage Manager - Manages removable media, drives, and libraries. If you don't use tape, Jaz, Zip, SyQuest, or other removable drives, you can turn it off.
RunAs Service - Enables starting processes under alternate credentials. If you don't run applications under an alias (e.g.as a different user), you can turn it off.
Telephony - Provides Telephony API (TAPI) support for programs that control telephony devices and IP based voice connections on the local computer and, through the LAN, on servers that are also running the service. If you don't use any applications that establish voice connections online, e.g. Roger Wilco, Netmeeting, or Internet telephone services, you can turn it off.
Use caution when you disable services. If you're not sure, leave it alone. Preferably keep track of what you're disabling. Try to disable only one thing at a time, use the computer for a while to make sure everything continues to work before disabling the next service. This makes troubleshooting a lot easier.
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