How to Remove an Unwanted Service in Windows 7/Vista/XP

Have you come across a situation where uninstalling a software leaves back its Service or Driver references in the registry, and Windows tries to load them at every boot and fails? Here is how to remove an orphaned or unwanted service or driver from your system.

Method 1: Using the SC.EXE command

The SC command-line tool in Windows XP/Vista which can be used to create, edit or delete Services. To delete a service, use the following command-line syntax from a Command Prompt window:

SC DELETE service_name

Where service_name represents the short name of a service, and not its display name. For example, the short name for Automatic Updates service is wuauserv, but its display name is Automatic Updates.) To determine the short name of a service, you use the Services MMC console. For more information, see article How to find the short names of services.

Important: If you’re using Windows Vista, you need to open an elevated Command Prompt to run SC.exe command-line tool.


Method 2: Using the Registry Editor

To manually remove a service from the registry, use these steps:

Start Regedit.exe and navigate to the following branch:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Services

The Service and driver entries are present under the above registry key. Each sub-key represents a driver or a Service. You should be able to identify them easily by looking at the DisplayName and ImagePath values in the right-pane in the Registry Editor.

Note: Before modifying / removing a Service, create a System Restore point and/or a complete Registry backup, just in case something happens. Links containing Registry backup instructions are provided below. Once you spot the Service/driver entry, right-click on the key and choose Delete.

[ERUNT] Registry Backup and Restore for Windows

[ERUNT Download URLs]

[Installing & Using ERUNT]

Method 3: Using Autoruns

If your edition of Windows XP or Windows Vista does not ship with SC.exe console tool, then may have to edit the registry manually, or use a software utility such as Autoruns. Autoruns is a must-have tool which helps you manage Windows startup, services, drivers, Winsock providers, Internet Explorer add-ons, Shell extensions and much more…

Download Autoruns and run it. From the Options tab, tick Hide Microsoft Entries, so that only the third-party entries are listed. This makes it easy for you to spot a third-party driver or Service. Press F5 to refresh the listing. Click the Services tab, from where you can remove unwanted or leftover drivers and Services.


13 thoughts on “How to Remove an Unwanted Service in Windows 7/Vista/XP

  1. What about a dependency on the deleted service by another service; will Windows do the intelligent thing and remove the dependency, or must an additional step be manually done?

Comments are closed.