Understanding Windows Services in Windows 7

What Are Services?
At the very simplest level, a service is a small, helper program that runs in the background of your computer. When you turn on the computer, the services are one of the first things to get fired up and start working. They make sure that everything starts up properly, has the right permissions, connects properly and – as you continue to use your computer – they help ensure that programs work correctly as well.

Unlike a process, an active service runs regardless of whether a given application is open. This ensures that resources are always available for the components that need them.

How to Access Them
To see the services that are running on your computer right now, you simply need to pull up the Task Manager. Do this by clicking on Ctrl + Shift + Esc. And then clicking on the tab labeled “Services.”

In Windows XP, the task manager doesn’t list services, but you can still access them via the Services Manager. Go to Control Panel ( » Performance and Maintenance) » Administrative Tools » Services. This will pull up the Service Manager.

At first glance you can get a sense of how services are managed and distributed.

If you look closely you’ll notice that not all of them are actually running in the background. In fact, many of the services installed on your computer aren’t running at all, they’re Stopped. You can see this in the “Status” Column.

Head’s up | Whether or not a service is running depends on the particular settings of your system. While it’s good to understand services and know how to monitor them. It’s generally not a good idea to arbitrarily stop and start them without knowing exactly what functions this will affect. That being said, you always have the power to control a service by right-clicking it. The context menu that appears lets you start/stop the service and also provides you with access to options, letting you find out more or adjust the way in which Windows activates it.

Types of Services (Groups)
The list of services is long, and each has a special job. To make it a bit easier to organize, Windows 7 incorporated a set of group names to categorize services according to the types of jobs they actually perform. The most common groups of services you’ll find on a PC are…

DcomLaunch

DcomLaunch handles some of the nuts and bolts of your computer. Inside the DcomLaunch group you’ll find services that make your computer power up, that make plug-and-play applications work and one that makes everything go from off to on.

LocalService

LocalService includes the various services associated with the actions required by a local account, like your personal user-account. The LocalService programs work in isolation from other services for security reasons and ensure that when you log into your computer, the settings associated with your specific user-account load up correctly.

LocalServiceNoNetwork

Services that fall into the LocalServiceNoNetwork include things like your Internet firewall and some security programs. In this group you’ll find any number of Internet activity logs, filtering software and IP settings.

It’s called “NoNetwork” because these items are able to be run without a connection to the local network, like a home or office network. An example service you might find here is the Windows Firewall. If activated, it will run independent of local network access so that another user (one who’s also on the network) can’t turn your firewall on or off. This is part of the integrated security framework that Windows Vista and 7 had built into their operations.