Windows XP right out of the box is not optimize for performance. There are many Windows services and processes which are turn on by default, some of which you don't need. Why do you ask? Microsoft engineers tried to anticipate what services to enable to address the vast majority of users. As I would say a cookie cutter approach (i.e. one size fits all). For example, there is a service called "printer spooler" which loads files to memory for later printing. If you don't have a printer connected to your computer, what is the point of keeping this service? It would just waste computer resources which could be used elsewhere. And, it is for this reason, I recommend disabling unnecessary Windows services to improve overall performance. But then it naturally raises the question how do I or anyone else find out which services are safe to disable. Thankfully, there are several generous computer experts who have taken the time to compile a list of Windows services, their functions and more importantly the information people need to make a decision whether to keep a service or not.
- Black Viper: This is perhaps the most recognized source of information on Windows services. I have come across many articles which makes reference to Black Viper. And, for good reason, he gives each service a description and his recommendation. In addition, he gives the default setting for both Windows XP home edition and professional edition. Unfortunately, despite its popularity, the website, which hosted the list, was taken down sometime ago. However, majorgeeks.com, a website specializing in both free and commercial software downloads, picked up the list and is available for anyone to use.
- JohnTP Home: John reviews Windows services in his article "How to Speed Up and Secure Your PC." It is a great article and I recommend everyone, novices and experts alike, to read it. His article is similar to Black Viper, he gives each service a description and his recommendation. While you are on his website, you might want to look at some of his great articles on how to spice up your personal blog.
- The Elder Geek: The computer guru and legendary hero who started his career in computer when desktop computers were the size of a mac truck. His list is the most informative of the 4 articles mentioned here. But, I should warn you that he does not recommend making changes to the default settings. He was reluctant to make up such a list but his fans urged him to do so. I guess he felt if he was going to make up a list then he would give the most information possible for people to make an informed decision.
- Windows Networking: Perhaps not the most informative lists but it is comprehensive and succinct.