Windows Services – Identifying Dependencies & Changing the Startup Type

A while ago I started covering Windows services, what they are and what they do. At that time I tried to cover the basics every user should understand about a service. I think it’s time to get more in-depth and cover the more advanced aspects about Windows services. That’s why, in this article I will talk dependencies, what they mean and why you should be extra-careful when you intend to disable a Windows service.

Windows Services Depend on System Components & Other Services

In many instances, Windows services require other system components to run, before they can start functioning. These components are known as dependencies and if they fail to start themselves, then the services that require them, will also fail to start.

When a service fails to start, you can examine its dependencies and make sure every one of them is running. Also, before trying to disable a service, you should always check that other system components or services do not depend on it.

This list of dependencies can be found in the Dependencies tab in the Properties window of each service. To access it, right click on the service and click Properties, then Dependencies.

The Dependencies tab is split into two sections: the first lists the system components that need to run in order for the service to start, while the second lists the services that depend on the selected service. To explain this in one sentence, the general idea is: dependencies work -> the selected service works -> services depending on the selected service work as well.

Disabling Windows Services – Should You Do It?

While I don’t recommend users to disable services, there are various scenarios where you might want to stop some of them from being run.

Some say that, by disabling unneeded or unwanted services, you will tweak your computer so that it will boot or run faster, as it will not use resources for them. While this is somewhat true, most times the improvements are not noticeable. However, if you want to make such tweaks, it is best not to disable services, but merely set their Startup type to Manual. The specified service will not be started when Windows starts. However, if the service is requested by other system components or services, Windows will be able to start it and you will be safe from encountering issues.

Setting the Startup type to Disabled means that the selected service can never be started. You will have to change its startup type and then start it manually, if you ever need it to run.

Another setting you should consider for less important services is Automatic (Delayed Start). This setting will make the service start automatically after Windows starts but with one important difference: it will first wait for more important services (that are set on Automatic to start) and it will start only these other services have started. This is a good setting to use for services that you don’t need to run right away but you also want the start-up timing to be faster.

Conclusion

Unfortunately not many people look at the dependencies between Windows services when they choose to disable a services based on the recommendations made by a website or another. I honestly recommend you to investigate a bit and understand how a service is used before taking any decisions. To help you out, I plan to come back with an article sharing useful and SAFE recommendations on services can be disabled and when. Until then, don’t hesitate to read our recommendations below and learn more useful tips and trick about administering Windows.