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Important This document may not represent best practices for current development, links to downloads and other resources may no longer be valid. Current recommended version can be found here.

How to: Create Windows Services

When you create a service, you can use a Visual Studio project template called Windows Service. This template automatically does much of the work for you by referencing the appropriate classes and namespaces, setting up the inheritance from the base class for services, and overriding several of the methods you're likely to want to override.


The Windows Service template and associated functionality is not available in the Standard Edition of Visual Studio.

At a minimum, to create a functional service you must:

  • Set the ServiceName property.

  • Create the necessary installers for your service application.

  • Override and specify code for the OnStart and OnStop methods to customize the ways in which your service behaves.

After you add installers to your application, the next step is to create a setup project that will install the compiled project files and run the installers needed to install your service. To create a complete setup project, you must add the service project's output to the setup project and then add a custom action to have your service installed. For more information on setup projects, see Setup Projects. For more information on custom actions, see Walkthrough: Creating a Custom Action.

To create a Windows Service application

  1. Create a Windows Service project.


    For instructions on writing a service without using the template, see How to: Write Services Programmatically.

  2. In the Properties window, set the ServiceName property for your service.


    The value of the ServiceName property must always match the name recorded in the installer classes. If you change this property, you must update the ServiceName property of installer classes as well.

  3. Set any of the following properties to determine how your service will function.




    True to indicate that the service will accept requests to stop running; false to prevent the service from being stopped.


    True to indicate that the service wants to receive notification when the computer on which it lives shuts down, enabling it to call the OnShutdown procedure.


    True to indicate that the service will accept requests to pause or to resume running; false to prevent the service from being paused and resumed.


    True to indicate that the service can handle notification of changes to the computer's power status; false to prevent the service from being notified of these changes.


    True to write informational entries to the Application event log when your service performs an action; false to disable this functionality. For more information, see How to: Log Information About Services.


    By default, AutoLog is set to true.


    When CanStop or CanPauseAndContinue are set to false, the Service Control Manager will disable the corresponding menu options to stop, pause, or continue the service.

  4. Access the Code Editor and fill in the processing you want for the OnStart and OnStop procedures.

  5. Override any other methods for which you want to define functionality.

  6. Add the necessary installers for your service application. For more information, see How to: Add Installers to Your Service Application.

  7. Build your project by selecting Build Solution from the Build menu.


    Do not press F5 to run your project — you cannot run a service project in this way.

  8. Install the service. For more information, see How to: Install and Uninstall Services.

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