What is Windows Services and How to Manage Them?

A Windows service is a computer program that runs in the background, and has no user interface. Services use API to handle core tasks without user interaction. In other words, a service does not require user interaction and they provide core OS functions like event logging, error reporting, web serving and file serving among others.

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In addition to Windows OS, other third-party software such as security suites also uses services. They use services in a manner starting before you even log in and integrate with Windows core, providing high-level protection.

Types of Windows Services

We can group Windows Services into four categories based on their functionalities and actions:

  1. Network Services.
  2. System Services.
  3. Local Services.
  4. Third-party Services (like security services).

Basic Characteristics of Windows Services

Below are some of the characteristics of a Windows Service:

  • Launch and Running Mechanism – Services starts automatically when you power on the PC and continue to run until shutdown.
  • User Interface – Have no UI. They run quietly in the background and are not user interactive.
  • Instances – Services only supports a single instance on a device.
  • Admin Rights – They run under admin privileges and have full control over their respective low-level machine layer.

Users can access Services, manage or manipulate their state. In this post, we will focus on how to open Windows Services Manager, start/stop, pause/continue or send different commands to a service.

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Accessing Services in Windows 10

To see what services are running on your PC, you can open the Windows Services Control Manager or the Task Manager.

  • Press “Win + R” keys and run “services.msc” to open the Services Manager and hit Enter.
Open Services Using Run Command
Open Services Using Run Command
  • This opens a list of all the Windows services in your PC, their description and Startup Type. You can also see which services are running on your computer and their type.
Services List
Services List
  • Open “Task Manager” from the Taskbar context menu (right-click).
Task Manager
Task Manager
  • On the “Task Manager”, switch to “Services” tab to display the services and their status.
TM Services
TM Services

Managing Service in Windows Services Manager or Task Manager

  • To manipulate the service status, double click the service to open the service dialog and go to the “General” tab.
  • Check the status “Service status” located at the lower section of the window.
  • You can use the four buttons, “Stop” to launch running services, “Start” to launch a service “Pause” or “Resume”.
Service Status
Service Status
  • To change the “Startup type”, click the arrow to expand the options and choose a type.
Startup Type
Startup Type
  • The different Startup Type options are:
    • Automatic – Service will start when you boot the computer.
    • Automatic (Delayed Start) – Service starts after boot up and may stop automatically when not in use.
    • Manual – Windows will only start the service when needed.
    • Disabled – The service will not start but may display error notifications when needed.
  • To implement the changes click “Apply” followed by the “Ok” button. Windows may prompt you to restart the computer either immediately or later.
  • In Task Manager, right-click the service and choose the action (start, stop or restart the service).
Restart Service
Restart Service

Managing Windows Services in Command Prompt

Another way to interact with Windows Services is through Command line.

  • Open Command Prompt (Admin option).
  • Type the command Net start “name of service” and press the enter key.
  • For example, the below command will start the service.
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net start “AdobeARMservice”

  • Net stop – To stop a service.
  • Net pause – To pause a service.
  • Net continue – To resume a paused service.
CMD Management
CMD Management

You can also configure the “Startup type” for a service using the command like sc config “Name Of Service” start= “preferred type”. For example:

sc config “AdobeARMservice” start= “demand”

The above command will set the Startup Type of the AdobeARMservice service to “Manual” mode.

You have the following other options:

  • Automatic – start= auto
  • Automatic (Delayed Start) – start= delayed-auto
  • Disabled – start= disabled
Configure Startup Type
Configure Startup Type

Conclusion

Windows Services perform low-level tasks within the operating system. The services start automatically during boot up, and run silently in the background. If you want to maximize your PC startup speed or overall performance, you can specify how a service starts or change its status. Windows allows users to manage services from the Services Control Panel, Task Manager or using Command Prompt. When you open the Windows Service Manager, you will see all the services on your computer, their purpose (description) and startup type as well as the account that started the service under “Log on as” column. However, you need to take caution as stopping some of the services may affect how the system operates. Moreover, some services are dependent on others and deleting one may compromise all other dependent services.

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