Whether you’re looking to optimise your PC, troubleshoot problems or check up on its security, taking a closer look at your system’s services and drivers can often help.
The standard Windows Services applet is a little on the basic side, though, so for the best results you should install the compact, free and far more powerful Service Manager.
The first advantage of the program is the sheer weight of information it displays up-front. So you get the display name, start type and status, of course, but there’s also the process ID; the service’s executable file name, date and time; its internal short name; even whether the service is running in a shared process, or has one of its own.
If you’d rather just zoom in on a particular set of services, though, that’s easy too. You can clear the “MS” checkbox to show only non-Microsoft services, for example. Clearing the “inactive” box will show only services which are actually running. Or you can type text in the filter box to display only services which match.
And if you need to see driver details as well (or instead) then that’s equally straightforward. You’re able to view kernel, file system or all drivers, from Microsoft and/ or third parties, and again these can be filtered by text.
Service Manager isn’t just a static display tool, though. Right-click your entry of choice and you’ll find options to stop, start, pause or restart it, change its start type, kill the relevant process, even remove a service or driver entirely if you’re sure that’s safe. (Though beware, you’d better be really sure, because a single mistake here could cripple your PC.)
There’s the option to work with multiple entries at once, so for instance you could select several services and stop them all in a couple of clicks.
And if you really know what you’re doing then you can even change the low-level details of a service, including the user account it uses, and whether it’s marked as interactive (or not).
There is one significant disappointment here, in that Service Manager doesn’t seem to support the Delayed startup type (“Automatic” and “Automatic (Delayed Start)” services are both just tagged as “Automatic”). But otherwise this is a very powerful utility which makes it quick and easy to find out more about the services and drivers running on your PC, and if you’re a Windows expert then it’s well worth adding to your troubleshooting toolkit.
Please note, we’ve linked to the installer for Service Manager 4.6 as it’s the latest version. If you’d prefer a portable build then there is one available from the author’s site, but as we write it’s only at version 4.5.