Windows 7 and 8.1, Server 2008 R2 and Server 2012 R2 users and admins who have already installed the patches Microsoft released today for those operating system may have noticed that the updates included a patch that added a Diagnostics Tracking Service service to the operating system.
Windows 10 users may know the service already as it has been part of the operating system for some time.
The support article that Microsoft has created for the patch reveals little information about the actual purpose of the service.
This update enables the Diagnostics Tracking Service in Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. This tracking service collects data about functional issues in Windows.
The description reveals no information about the purpose other than that it is collecting data about functional issues and sending those information to Microsoft.
The patch has been released for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Basically, for the majority of supported versions of Windows with the exception of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows RT.
How to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service
The service does not appear to be a critical system service that needs to run at all. Considering that it was just added, it is fair to say that disabling it may not affect the underlying system or at the very most only marginally.
The service is not protected in any way which means that you can disable it using the Services manager.
- Tap on the Windows-key, type services and hit enter.
- Locate the service Diagnostics Tracking Service and double-click on it,
- Activate the startup type menu and select disabled from it. This disables the services' autostart.
- Click the stop button afterwards to stop the running process. This stops the service for the current session.
The service won't start with Windows anymore and won't run in the session you have disabled it.
To enable the service again, repeat the steps but set its startup type to automatic and click on start afterwards to start it for the active session.
Windows users may have several issues with the tracking service. First, it was added via automatic updates and set to run by default on user systems it was installed on.
Second, the description is vague and Microsoft reveals no additional details about the service's function on the support website.
No information about the collected data is revealed by Microsoft at this point in time which makes this worrying especially for privacy-conscious users.
Update: Installation of the patch may cause sys file corruption on Windows. Additional information about that are available here.