Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Services - which to run?

To Run or not to Run

In the present day multitasked-multithreaded computing environment, where people talk about their computer’s processing power and capacity in terms of Giga values, often, they keep running unnecessary, unwanted processes and services in their computers. Some of these services, not needed in the very first place, may pose serious security threat in networked environment. In general, default OS installation and preset system setups are adopted as is where is basis. As there is no dearth of system resources in present day and with better management of processing power, you will not notice any performance degradation in your computing tasks and that is why you least bother about the running tasks. Remember- wise man’s saying that- do not run without a cause in open; else, people will start seeing you with suspicion. Therefore, it is time to give a close, suspicious look to your computer’s running services and immediately stop the unwanted ones since some of the unwanted running services may pose some serious security threats since they open different ports of computer for possible attack. Further, for the best system, only the needed application and services should be kept running and nothing else.

Services in Windows (XP / 2000)

Out of 80 or more odd services in Windows XP, most of them installed by Operating system, you can easily survive with as little as 8-10 running services, and a couple of more for some specific task!. And believe it or not, you will never use most of the services if you are using your computer in SOHO (Small Office Home Office) environment. Some services are also installed by specific applications and they are needed to run for proper functioning of those applications. In fact, services are applications that run in background performing some task. Though you can start and stop certain services through System Configuration (msconfig) Utility, it is advisable to use Microsoft Management Consol ( services.msc) utility. To start Microsoft Management Consol, click on Start button, click on Run and enter command services.msc in the input box that appears and click on Ok button. The Microsoft Management Consol window containing all the installed services will open indicating their status. Click on Extended tab and select any of the services you want to know about. You will see the description of the selected service. You can Start, Stop or Re-Start any service and set its attribute so that it can start automatically in next boot, can be start manually or disable completely. Here, you will see a large number of services started automatically and running by default. You can disable some absolutely unwanted, change from automatic to manual for some rarely wanted and left untouched for the most wanted. However, do keep in mind that stopping certain service may stop your applications and you may encounter strange behavior from your computer. Some essential service needed to be run constantly for proper functioning of computer and its certain task. While you can get fair idea about the services, be sure before stopping any of the services. For example, if by accident, you disable service that performs checking of viruses or maintaining firewalling in background, you expose your computer to potential virus infections and hackings. At the other end, some network services may actually pose you security threat across network and you have to disable them.

To change property of the services so that it may start or disable during system startup, right click on that service, click on Properties, and then select one from startup type- Automatic, Manual or Disable. Upon next boot, changes will take effect. While a close judgment is desire in every service to what to run and what not, however, some service like Help and Support should be disabled for advanced users since this is seldom used.

Services in Linux

To install and function easily, the default installation scripts of popular Linux distribution adds a vast number of services to run on your system. Some of these services are probably never used. For example, the apmd service that monitors condition of battery status, meant for Laptop computers has no use in Desktop computers and hence should be disabled. Similarly there are other services that you may never use in Linux and some of these may leave your computer’s ports open to external break-ins. The more services are left running un-necessary, the more ports will be left open to intruders for nothing. Therefore, to protect your system, it is best to turn off unnecessary services.

To disable running services or to remove them from starting during system startup, in Linux, there are various ways in doing so. One is to use command line utility ntsysv, through which you can enable or disable services during system startup. Simply run command ntsysv and follow on screen instruction to know more about and enabling/disabling services. You can also edit startup script file /etc/init.d/ or /etc/rc.d/init.d/ if you have fair idea of services. For GUI based administration, if KDE is installed in your Linux machine, there is Service Configuration menu in KDE’s System menu through which you can enable / disable services. There is also a nice utility- SysV-Init Editor in KDE menu through which you can control services for certain run levels.

Services are great in making your life easier. So disable them only when you see the potential threat they provide dominates the apparent benefit, else it is better to let them run even for no reason at all!

Screenshot Descriptions:

  1. Run1.jpg Windows Task Manager (run it by pressing Windows panic button, Alt+Ctrl+Del key combination in Windows 2000/ XP ) displays the running services and process.
  2. Run2.jpg Among installed 80 odd services, Start / Stop certain services or set the startup type through command services.msc in Windows 2000/XP.
  3. Run3.png In Linux, there are various ways through which you can set services to be started automatically during boot up. One such command line utility is ntsysv that lets you define services to start with system startup.
  4. Run4.png With SysV-Init editor, you can define services to run on particular run level in Linux.
  5. Run5.png KDE’s Service Configuration utility lets you choose different services to run at different run level.

No comments:

More Articles...

Translate in your own language

Want to translate this article in your own language? Just click the Flag below