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Beginners Guides: Understanding and Tweaking WindowsXP Services
Beginners Guides: Understanding and Tweaking WindowsXP Services - PCSTATS
Learn to use the 'Services' young Jedi, for they are powerful and control much of WindowsXP. if you do not, you'll be forced to run programs in the system tray for all eternity!
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External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jun 21 2006   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Why do does WinXP need Services?

Services are started during the operating system boot process, and load from executable files like other programs. The difference is that once they are started, they stay running in the background until they are manually turned off. This way, they can perform whatever function they need to perform without having to be manually invoked by the user.

The downside of this, of course, is that services consume system resources, notably memory. The more services you have open, the greater the initial overhead on your system.

Potentially worse is the fact that standardized sets of services that are always present by default (such as the base list of services loaded by Windows XP) are well known, and their presence on the vast majority of XP systems can (and has) made certain network services vulnerable to viruses, Trojans, spyware and exploits. The sheer complexity of Windows XP is the main reason why Microsoft seemingly has so much trouble securing it. Service Pack 2 went a long way towards rectifying these issues, closing down several little-used services that might present security issues, like the Remote registry editing service.

The difference between services and processes

You've looked at the list of services running on your system by now, and you understand that these services are applications running behind the scenes, but now for a puzzling thing… Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up the Task Manager Window and click on the 'processes' tab

Hmm, if all those services are loaded in the background, why aren't they represented on this list? The processes tab shows every piece of software currently running within your Windows application, so surely the services you've seen should be here too? The quick answer to this is that they are here, just not in the form you are expecting.

The processes tab only displays the .EXE executable file for each application that is running on your Windows XP system. Remember when we said that services are loaded with an executable file like any other program?

The thing is, certain executable files (like SVCHOST.EXE, which should appear several times in the process list) start up multiple services. Also, in most cases the name of the executable file in the process list is not representative of the service(s) it starts.

We can find out more about a service that is running by going back to the 'services.msc' window and double clicking on any 'started' service. Try the 'computer browser' service as one example.

Look at the 'path to executable' box. Recognize that .exe file? The browser service is just one of many services started by the 'SVCHOST.EXE' file which runs as a process when Windows boots up.

To recap, services are applications that run in the background, while processes are the actual operations that the computer is currently working on. One process can be responsible for several running services, as in the case of the SVCHOST.EXE process.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Understanding and Tweaking WindowsXP Services
 Pg 2.  Which services are running?
 Pg 3.  Getting Information on Specific Services
 Pg 4.  Properties of Services
 Pg 5.  — Why do does WinXP need Services?
 Pg 6.  What services should be running?
 Pg 7.  Services to disable for better security and performance
 Pg 8.  Creating your own services
 Pg 9.  Creating Services Continued

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