How To: Stop unwanted Messenger Service messages

Applies to: Microsoft Windows (any version)

Symptoms

When you are connected to the Internet, message boxes pop up at random intervals. The messages are headed "Messenger Service" and have an advertising message such as: "Message from SYSTEM to ALERT on 5/23/2005. STOP! WINDOWS REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. Windows has found critical errors. To fix the errors please download registry repair from http://....".

An example of Messenger Spam, an advertising message that uses the Windows Messenger Service to display itself on your computer.

Cause

This is an example of Messenger Spam. It's an unwanted advertising message that uses the Windows Messenger Service - a standard Windows service for displaying messages on computers connected to a network - to display on your screen.

The fact that you are receiving these messages may indicate that you do not have a firewall running on your computer, so that people on the Internet can access services running on your PC. If you do have a firewall, then it may not have been configured to block access to the port used for sending Windows Messenger messages, or else you may have some spyware on your computer that is sending these messages.

Note: The Windows Messenger Service is not the same thing as the Windows Messenger online chat program that you may see running in your system tray.

Solution

To prevent the annoying messages from appearing, disable the Windows Messenger Service. To do this, click on Start, Run, type services.msc and hit Enter. Scroll down the list until you see the item named Messenger. Double-click Messenger, then click on Stop, and set the Startup type to Disabled.

To prevent remote computers from having access to services running on your computer, you should install a personal firewall. If your computer is running Windows XP, update it to Service Pack 2 (SP2) as soon as possible and then enable the Windows Firewall.

If your computer has been vulnerable to Messenger Spam, it may also have been unprotected from other forms of spyware and malware. To resolve the problem and remove all spyware from your computer we recommend Spyware Doctor.

ROGUE ANTI-SPYWARE WARNING

There are many poor quality or fake anti-spyware products advertised on the Internet! These products are often promoted using methods such as Google text ads. Many of these anti-spyware products are poor performers, and some of them actually install spyware on your computer. Use only products downloaded from or recommended by sites you can trust.