The code-bloat problem seems to get worse with every release of Windows—each new release seems to run slower than the preceding one. In most cases, the problem doesn't stem from the base OS code but from the fact that each new release tends to incorporate more functionality. One key area that continues to expand is services: Windows XP automatically starts 36 services. Few users need all those services, however, and by trimming back unused services, you can make your system run more efficiently.

To disable a service, open the Control Panel Services applet and double-click the service to open its Properties sheet. On the General tab, click the Startup type drop-down box and select Disabled. If you discover that you've lost important functionality, restart the service by resetting its Startup type to Automatic or Manual. Here are 10 XP services that you can consider turning off.

10. Automatic Updates service—Some users depend on Microsoft's Automatic Updates to keep their systems up-to-date and will want to leave this service enabled. Personally, I like to be in control of the updates that are applied to my systems, so I turn off Automatic Updates.

9. Messenger service—The Messenger service sends and receives messages that the Net Send command or the Alerter service has transmitted. If you don't use the Net Send function or receive Alerter messages, you can safely disable this service.

8.TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper service—If you're still running WINS and NetBIOS on your network, you'll want the TCP/IP NetBios Helper service to remain enabled. However, if you run only TCP/IP, you can probably eliminate this service.

7. Wireless Zero Configuration service—As its name suggests, the Wireless Zero Configuration service supports automatic configuration of 802.11 wireless connections. Mobile users of laptops and tablet PCs should probably leave this service active, but networked client systems usually have no need for wireless connections and can safely disable the service.

6. Upload Manager service—The Upload Manager service performs asynchronous file transfers. This service lets your system send Microsoft information that's used to search for drivers for your system. I prefer to explicitly manage the drivers I use, so I disable the Upload Manager service.

5. Task Scheduler service—The Task Scheduler lets your system automatically run programs and scripts at a prescheduled time. Some third-party virus scanners and backup utilities use this service; others install their own scheduling service. To see whether anything on your system uses this service, open the Scheduled Tasks folder in Control Panel. If the folder is empty, you probably can disable Task Scheduler without sacrificing functionality.

4. Error Reporting service—The Error Reporting service contacts Microsoft when applications encounter an error. At first, I thought this service was cool, but after taking the time to send an error report to Microsoft several dozen times for a variety of problems with no visible result, I gave up on this service as more trouble than it's worth.

3. Remote Registry service—The Remote Registry service lets you access and manipulate the registry on other networked systems. This service can be useful on administrative workstations, but it can also be a potentially serious security exposure on end users' network clients. I recommend disabling the Remote Registry service on most client systems.

2. Server service—The Server service provides remote procedure call (RPC) support as well as support for file and print serving. Although this service is necessary on server systems, it can pose a security risk on network clients that don't need to provide file and print serving.

1. Computer Browser service—The Computer Browser service maintains and publishes to network clients a list of computers that are on the network. Although this service is useful on one or two key servers, network clients usually shouldn't run this service.