My connection is by dial-up. I have tried disabling various services, and configuring common applications to not connect by default. There are no "messenger" applications running, and no open applications. Still, not three minutes will pass without the machine trying to dial out.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
First, from a security standpoint, make sure that you are running the latest Microsoft critical updates (for Windows XP, IE 6.x, etc.) and that you disable the services I've listed below. If you must use one of these services, set startup mode to manual and then control the service manually (remember to stop the service after you're done). To "prevent Windows XP from continually trying to connect" via dial-up, make sure that you disable Autodial "while logged on" in Dial-up Preferences tab. Next, check settings on Automatic Updates in Control Panel and make sure that you set Automatic Updates to notify you before downloading and installing any updates. While you are at it, check the settings for other programs with an auto/update feature in your system tray (lower-right corner of your screen) and in your startup folder. If your computer is still trying to dial out, run "netstat -na" to see what IP address the program is trying to connect to. Check also your anti-virus software settings and make sure that you are running the latest signature file. Last but not least, consider configuring the native XP firewall and blocking unnecessary ports. Also, periodically check Add/Remote Programs and your browser's loaded classes (View Objects in Internet Settings Properties).
Services to disable:
- Application Layer Gateway Service - if not using Internet Sharing
- Automatic Updates - this can work for you or against you; at some point, someone will hack this process to propagate an attack on your system
- Background Intelligent Transfer Service - used by Windows Update
- Error Reporting Service - self explanatory
- Internet Connection Firewall - unless you are sharing Internet
- NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing - enable when you need it
- Remote Access Auto Connection Manager - unless sharing Internet
- Remote Desktop Help Session Manager - enable when you need it
- Remote Access Connection Manager - unless sharing Internet
- Routing and Remote Access - unless sharing Internet
- TCP NetBIOS Helper Service - used for WINS
- Terminal Services - enable when you need it
- Upload Manager
This was first published in May 2003