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Manage Windows services from the desktop with ServiceTray

17 June 2014, Mike Williams

If you’re managing or troubleshooting a PC then it’s often useful to keep track of an important Windows service. The regular services applet handles the basics, but the free ServiceTray goes further with extra features and far better real-time feedback.

Setup is simple, mostly about choosing the service to be monitored (it only tracks one at a time) and your preferred system tray icon. ServiceTray can then generate an icon in the Startup folder, or your desktop, as required.

Once active, ServiceTray keeps you up-to-date on the target service by displaying alerts if your service starts or stops unexpectedly. Its icon colour also indicates the service’s state: green means running, red means stopped, and yellow means it’s somewhere in between (starting or stopping, usually).

A system tray icon displays your service status, and provides useful control options and shortcuts

Double-clicking the icon displays a more detailed report, including the service process ID, session, CPU and RAM usage, start and up time. We would have liked to see a little more data here – peak CPU and RAM use, maybe a graph showing usage over time – but no, this is strictly basics-only. At least it keeps ServiceTray’s own resource use to a minimum (around 2.7MB RAM on our test PC).

Right-clicking the ServiceTray icon displays options to Start, Stop and Restart your service. There are shortcuts to some related Control Panel applets (Services, Task Manager, Event Viewer). And very unusually, you get a “Switch to session 0” feature which may help you view messages from interactive services. (Sessions are a technical topic, but if you’d like to know more than the 2BrightSparks article “Understanding Sessions in Windows” on this page will give you the basics.)

ServiceTray is a relatively simple tool, but it’s well designed and easy to use, with one or two unusual features. If you ever need to closely monitor a single service then it’s a great alternative to the normal Services applet.

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