Harden XP by disabling services

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 14, 2007
Updated • May 28, 2013

I never thought that a lot of users are still running Windows XP with the default service configuration but it seems that the majority does. The default configuration ensures maximum compatibility but it also means that services are running that do not serve a single purpose on the system. This may not only reduce the performance of the system but may also be dangerous from a security point of view.

It is possible to increase the security of your system by disabling certain services that you will never use. Why would you for instance use remote services if those are not needed on your system. A rule of thumb is to disable as many services as possible as long as this does not mean that you can't use functions or programs in Windows XP that you do need.

Hit Windows + R and type services.msc to view the services configuration window. Services do have one of three possible start up types - they are either started automatically, manually or disabled. The difference between automatic and manual is that services that are set to automatic are started when Windows starts. Manual services are only started when they are needed.

It would be good to backup your system before you make any changes to the services configuration. Make sure you have a backup at hand or at at least system restore. If you want to be on the safe side right-click a service before you disable it and select Properties. Take a look at the Dependencies before you disable it, some services (that you might need) rely on others to function.


Disabled services list: (for a one user system)

  1. Alerter
  2. Application Layer Gateway
  3. Automatic Updates
  4. Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  5. Clipbook
  6. Computer Browser
  7. Distributed Link Tracking Client
  8. Distributed Transaction Coordinator
  9. Error Reporting Service
  10. Event Log
  11. Fast User Switching Compatibility
  12. IMAPI CD-Burning Com Service
  13. ET.TCP Port Sharing Service
  14. Messenger
  15. Network DDE
  16. Network DDE DSDM
  17. QoS RSVP
  18. Remote Desktop Help Session Manager
  19. Remote Procedure Call Locator
  20. Remote Registry Service
  21. Routing and Remote Access
  22. SecondaryLogon
  23. Security Accounts Manager
  24. Server
  25. Shell Hardware Detection
  26. SSDP Discovery Service
  27. TCP/IP Netbios Helper
  28. Telnet
  29. Terminal Services
  30. Themes
  31. Web Client
  32. Windows Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing
  33. Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service
  34. Windows Time
  35. Wireless Zero Configuration
  36. WMI Performance Adapter

Manual Services:

  1. Application Management
  2. DNS Client
  3. HID Input Service
  5. Install Driver Table Manager
  6. iPod Service
  7. IPSEC Services
  8. Logical Disk Manager
  9. Logical Disk Manager Administrative Service
  10. MS Software Shadow Copy Provider
  11. NB Service
  12. Net Logon
  13. Network Connections
  14. Network Location Awareness
  15. Network Provisioning Service
  16. Performance Logs and Alerts
  17. Protected Storage
  18. Remote Access Auto Connection Manager
  19. Remote Access Connection Manager
  20. Removable Storage
  21. Telephony
  22. Uninteruptable Power Supply
  23. Universal Plug and Play Device Host
  24. Volume Shadow Copy
  25. Windows Card Space
  26. Windows Installer
  27. Windows Management Instrumentation Driver Extensions

You can look up information about new services on Black Viper's website.


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  1. rakesh shastri said on February 15, 2007 at 6:18 am


    nice feed..

    i think it would be a good idea to:

    1) briefly describe the purpose of each service so that any user who intends to disable a particular service is aware of its repurcussions

    2) if after disabling a range of service the user detects a loss of functionality, the user would know exactly which service to re-enable.

    rakesh shastri

    1. Martin said on February 15, 2007 at 9:16 am

      Thanks for the comments. I did this on purpose. There are many websites on the net that describe every service in detail and even the services configuration tool has a description.

      What I would suggest would be to do this one by one if you feel insecure about changing so many services at once. Disable one and see if it has any effects, you might need to reboot the machine. If it has a effect, i.e. you can’t connect to the internet anymore, enable it again.

      Most users should not have to worry about disabling those services though.

  2. Joe said on February 16, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Just in case, list of default settings:

  3. GREYTAPE said on May 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    If you are looking on setting back your services to default settings here is the link…


  4. Braiam said on September 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    The probleam about Disable Automatic Update and BITS is that we need to harden the system with the updates like SP3, IE8, etc.

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