Disable Windows Messenger

January 10, 2009

in privacy & security,Windows

by David Hakala

First there was spam to exploit your email inbox. Then there came pop-up ads on Web sites to make browsing a nightmare. Then marketers figured out how to use a built-in Windows 2000 and XP service to zap their wares directly to your desktop. So did distributors of virii and other malware.

Windows Messenger is a Microsoft-proprietary instant messaging client that is enabled by default. So is its 2005 successor, Windows Live Messenger. Both IM clients have legitimate uses, primarily in corporate and online gaming environments. But most home and small business users don’t need to leave this back door open for bad things to enter.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation on the Web about how to “remove” or “uninstall” Messenger. The same technique is repeated on many “tweaks and tips” sites. I’ve tried it, and it just doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t shut down the Messenger service. It doesn’t delete the Messenger folder or its contents. If I delete the folder manually, Windows XP instantly restores it. This may be some peculiarity of my system configuration, so here is the popular technique for you to try:

Click Start and then Run
Copy and paste the following command into the Run box and hit Enter:

RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %windir%\INF\msmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove

Windows Messenger

Windows Messenger

Check your Program Files folder for the Windows Messenger folder. If it’s gone or at least empty, please let me know. I have crow in the freezer.

If it’s not, then just disable the Messenger service. Lock the door without tearing it out and bricking up the hole in the wall. You need administrator privileges to do the following:

Open Control Panel and click on Administrative Tools
Select Services and find Messenger in the right-hand window
Right-click on Messenger and select Properties
On the General tab, set “Startup Type” to “Disabled” and click OK
Messenger should be stopped and show as “disabled” in the services window

Now you are protected against attacks via Messenger, unless somehow a piece of malware gets on your computer that enables Messenger again. I haven’t heard of that trick actually happening.

David Hakala has written technology tutorials since 1988, in addition to tech journalism, profitable content, documentation, and marketing collateral.

{ 1 comment }

Jacoby 05.20.11 at 8:04 pm

That’s not just logic. That’s really snselibe.

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