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Tweaking Windows 7 Services - Knowing what a hacker is looking for MS still turns on some services that are vulnerable...

Tweaking Windows 7 Services - Close those security holes, and gain back some memory for your own use!


Making Windows Seven do what you want it to do by tweaking different services and options.

One of the first thing I do when I setup a new Operating System (OS) is to turn off unnecessary or useless services. Why? Those services that are set for 'Manual' startup that never start just take up memory when the computer is started. Even with the maximum ram you can put in your computer that memory being used by those services is a waste. Also the processor has to refresh that area of memory periodically thus using up processor time that could be used somewhere else.

By disabling these services you not only keep them from being loaded in to memory and eating up processor time you also close security holes that a hacker could use if the service was loaded but not started.

Here is a list of services that are safe to disable, I have made a list and  of services, and tested them, that can be safely turned off with two exceptions - Security Center and Windows Firewall which I will explain later.

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Display Name Option
Diagnostic Policy Service Disabled
Diagnostic Policy Service Disabled
Diagnostic Service Host Disabled
Diagnostic System Host Disabled
Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) Disabled
IP Helper Disabled
Media Center Extender Service ** **** Disabled
Microsoft iSCSI Initiator Service Disabled
Net.Tcp Port Sharing Service **** Disabled
Peer Name Resolution Protocol Disabled
Peer Networking Grouping Disabled
Peer Networking Identity Manager Disabled
Portable Device Enumerator Service Disabled
Problem Reports and Solutions Control Panel Support Disabled
Program Compatibility Assistant Service Disabled
Remote Desktop Configuration ** Disabled
Remote Desktop Services Disabled
Remote Desktop Services UserMode Port Redirector Disabled
Remote Registry Disabled
Routing and Remote Access Disabled
WebClient Disabled
WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service Disabled

Tweaking Windows 7 Services you don't have to disable these services, you can leave them as is. Doing so does use more memory - a lot more, and it puts you data at risk from viruses and hackers ... Just sayin'.

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If you do disable these services you need to consider disabling the corresponding GP (Group Policy). If you disable a service for security reasons then leaving the GP at the default setting will allow someone or a virus to start the service thus defeating you attempt at securing your data...

Note: A hacker that has control of a computer with a Windows Operating System can conceivably enable a Group Policy, the same for another user with the correct rights log on rights. But a virus can not enable a GP due to the complexity of the editor and the security files.

Note: If the computer is in a Domain (ie: Active Directory) then a hacker that has control of the computer would not be able to start a service that the DOMAIN GP has disabled! This makes sense if you have the resources to have an Active Directory Domain!

There are 145 services for Windows 7 and this list shows 22 of them you can safely disable.

Note: You may not want to disable all of these services, you may need them such as the Windows Media Center services.

Tweaking Windows 7 Services 64 Bit before disabling the services the OS was

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using 460 Meg of ram, after tweaking the desktop theme and services the OS is using 417 Meg. Now 43 meg may not sound like much when you have 2 to 8 Gig but that memory is not open to attack nor is the processor being used to keep the useless data in memory refreshed. (With anti-virus, trojan, or spyware software installed)

Tweaking Windows 7 Services 32 Bit before disabling the services and tweaking the desktop the OS was using 335 Meg of ram. After tweaking the OS is using 265 meg a savings of 90 Meg. (This Win 7 does not have any anti-virus, trojan, or spyware software installed).

Note: These memory settings are from Win 7 - 32 and 64 Bit running in a VM Ware Virtual Computer, physical computer memory will be more because more hardware drivers will be installed.

The more you turn off that isn't being used will add up in memory and processor savings. Lower memory and processor usage is lower power usage and lower heat generation.

Security Center and Windows Firewall should only be disabled if and only if you are behind a hardware firewall such as a router or a Server with a firewall and proxy services. Do not disable on a laptop that is used at airports, Internet Cafe's or when traveling.

Normally networks that are isolated from the internet through a firewall and proxy will have difficulties connecting to the local domain when the Windows Firewall service is active. One way around this is to write a GPO that sets the required rules to every computer in the domain. This is a labor intensive task and needs to be tested thoroughly before implementing in a large environment.

Tweaking Windows 7 like any other Operating System takes time and with the newer OS's a lot of the services depend on other services. That is if a service uses another service and that service isn't running then you will receive an error that the dependency service is not started and the service you wanted to start failed to start - (Does this make sense to you?) This is why you can't just go turn off a service because you don't want it to run, you have to make sure that some other service doesn't need the one you want to turn off.

As always test your settings before going on to the next one, if the service has a dependency and you turn off all of them at once you will wind up reinstalling the OS!

You will find more in depth explanations on services (over 140 services listed as safe to disable!) and GPO options for Tweaking Windows 7 Services in the Windows 7 Ultimate Guide.

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