An operating system is made up of various components that work with each other. The OS isn't just one object - it's a collection of smaller objects, each of which performs a different task. Their conjunction is what makes an "operating system". Windows calls these components "services", Linux calls it "daemons" and so on. Each service in Windows is essentially, to put it in a simpler way, an application that stays running in the back doing its job when required. Now each service takes up some memory, which isn't good if your system has a low amount of memory (like 256MB or less). Fortunately, not all of the default services are required by all users, so you can turn some of them off to free up some memory.
In this guide, we'll take a look at the default set of services that come with a fresh installation of Windows XP with Service Pack 2. We'll tell you the ones that you don't need and try to tell you why, so you can disable them without any problems. Each service has three options: automatic, manual and disabled. Automatic is essentially "run at startup"; Manual is a service that is started only when required; Disabled is when a service doesn't start at all. Based on the type of a user you are, there are different settings to recommend, but we'll take the safe route and tell you to disable the services that won't cause important features of your Windows to stop working. If you're comfortable with trying out stunts, you can go ahead and disable some of the other services that aren't mentioned here. If something stops working, you can just turn the service back on - there's no permanent effect. Also, since this is a guide to unneeded services that can be disabled, we won't list the services that are already disabled after Service Pack 2 (like Alerter and Messenger) in an effort to keep the list as simple as possible.
One more thing you have to note is that this list is primarily aimed at home users, so we'll be taking out most of the intranet/network related services that don't affect Internet connectivity. If you're using an office workstation with a proper server and all that jazz, you shouldn't be reading this guide.
To enable or disable services, go to Start -> Run -> and type "services.msc" and hit Enter.
"Maintains an updated list of computers on the network and supplies this list to computers designated as browsers."
Contrary to what it may sound like, disabling this service still allows you to browse a network in your office. And of course, you don't need this at home. Disable it.
Distributed Link Tracking Client
"Maintains links between NTFS files within a computer or across computers in a network domain."
This one sounds useful, but only if you often create files on one computer, shortcuts to those files on another computer, and then move the original files around the network. Not many people do so. In fact, not many people even have NTFS on their Windows for some orthodox reason. Not required on FAT32, at home or even at work if your scenario doesn't match with the description. Disable it.