So here is a problem I encountered. A computer would not connect to the internet. The first thing I do is, of course, run the ipconfig command. This showed that it wasn’t getting an IP address from the router. So I tried to open the command prompt as an administrator, but all I got was a message saying “The specified service does not exist as an installed service” along with something else below it related to the action I was trying to perform. Whenever I tried to run anything as an administrator, I got this same message: “The specified service does not exist as an installed service“.

Okay, so I booted into safe mode. One of the first things I just happened to do was look at the device manager. But when I opened it up, there was nothing there, just a blank window. The first thing I did was run the System File Checker. But, as usually happens with Windows Vista or 7, the System File Checker doesn’t fix the problem. So after a quick search, I found out that when the Plug and Play service is not running the device manager is blank. So I went to examine the services through the computer management console and discovered that the Plug and Play service was missing. It was deleted out of the registry. My bright idea now was to put my USB flash drive in export the registry entry that corresponds to the Plug and Play service from a working computer. But without this service, you cannot connect any new devices such as an USB drive.

Since this computer is Windows Vista, I then booted into the repair console and exported the Plug and Play service entry from there. The repair console for Vista and later is, of course, as light version of Windows. I exported the registry key HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\services\PlugPlay and saved it the hard drive. Then I booted back into safe mode, imported the registry key, and then rebooted into safe mode again. At this time I was feeling good, thinking everything would start working. When safe mode came up, the device manager worked again. But the internet was not. And when Windows was not in safe mode the message “The specified service does not exist as an installed service” still appeared.

So after some digging around I went to look for which services were responsible for the network working and would worry about that other message next. I soon discovered several services were missing. So I now I was faced with the challenge of figure out which services were missing. After putting back two more missing services and still having all of the problems above, I decided to change my tactic.

I could have tried an in-place upgrade. But this is always a hassle. That would be a last resort. While I was scanning the hard drive for viruses (just for good measure — Eset didn’t find any) I got the idea to install Windows Vista on an old hard drive, export all the services registry key, and then import that into the broken Windows. I did that and everything worked again after I rebooted! Of course, when I imported the registry file, it gave an error message about not being able to import everything. But all I wanted is what was missing and that fixed the problem.

So here is the step-by-step way to fix the device manager and “The specified service” problem:

  1. Download the appropriate registry file for your version of Windows and save it to a flash drive.
  2. Boot with the Windows Vista or later DVD or using the “Repair your computer” option on a computer with Windows Vista or later.
  3. Copy the registry file to the computer, ideally in a place such as the user’s desktop folder and not in the root directory.
  4. In safe mode import the registry file and reboot.