The Windows WebClient service allows applications to read and write files on Internet based servers by using the WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol. WebDAV enables mounting a Web Folder as a mapped network drive, which is not normally used unless you are managing a web server or using Microsoft SharePoint or Small Business Server based applications. This service is not necessary for most Windows users, yet it is enabled by default in Windows XP and Vista. While it is mostly benign, it can cause delays when you log on to a domain or to connect to a network resource that doesn't require WebDAV:
To disable the WebClient service, open the Control Panel, select Administrative Tools; Services; WebClient; then under Startup type, select Disabled; then under Service status, select Stop, then OK.
If you maintain many systems, it would be tedious and time consuming to manually disable this service on each one. Fortunately there is an easier way. On the systems I service and maintain I automatically apply this change via a simple .reg file I created. To do this on your own systems, save the following text to a file called DisableWebClientService.reg, then using Windows explorer, double click on the file and select "Yes" to add the contents to the registry, then restart your system to apply the change.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
;Disable the WebClient Service to improve network performance
; By: Scott Mueller - http://forum.scottmueller.com
; You experience a delay when you use your Windows XP computer to log on to a domain or to connect to a network resource
; Services that are turned off by default in Windows Server 2003
; Via GUI:
; Control Panel; Administrative Tools; Services; WebClient;
; under Startup type, select Disabled;
; under Service status, select Stop, then OK.
; Via commands:
; Stop WebClient service: sc stop WebClient
; Disable WebClient service: sc config WebClient start= disabled
; Value name: Start
; Value type: REG_DWORD
; Value data: 2-4
; Default: 2 (Automatic)
; Description: 2 = Automatic
; 3 = Manual
; 4 = Disabled
While this service is running, it will cause a minimum of 32KB to persistantly appear as WebClient/Publisher Temporary Files in the Windows Disk Cleanup tool. After disabling the service, these files will no longer be present on the system, and the option to "clean" them won't appear in the Disk Cleanup tool.
Note that if at some point in the future you require this service, you can easily reverse the setting by changing the Startup type back to Automatic. Scott.