How to install BOINC as a service (BOINC 6 series) on Windows?

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BOINC 6's service install procedure differs from BOINC 5's service install procedure, by setting up "sandboxing". This means that BOINC will make accounts for itself in your Windows and assign itself rights to run BOINC as a service. By enabling the Protected application execution option in the installer, you will be installing BOINC as a service.


Note: The following pictures were taken from the 6.2.1 installer. If you're using a newer version of the installer, options may differ. When using Windows 98/ME/SE, some options are unavailable.

Note: When upgrading a BOINC 6 version it is not necessary to uninstall the previous version. You can install the new BOINC directly over the old version. No work will be lost.

Note: Since BOINC 6.6, the protected application execution option is no longer set by default. You will have to set it yourself if you want to install BOINC as a service.

Note: Do NOT use the protected application execution installation in Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, or any of the Windows Server versions if you also want to use a GPU for crunching. The GPU will not be detected when BOINC is installed as a service. See the CUDA/CAL FAQ for more on that.

If you do want to uninstall BOINC first, do know that the BOINC 6.2 uninstaller will migrate your data directory back to the BOINC directory. Not a problem in normal cases, but it can take quite a while if you run projects like CPDN with large gigabyte files and caches.

Later uninstallers no longer move the Data directory back.


To start the installer, double-click the program's icon just as you would any other. You'll be greeted with the BOINC Splash screen starting the installer, then on to the welcome screen.


Click Next to continue.


You must click the radio button for I accept the terms in the license agreement. before you are allowed to continue. Click Next.


The choices screen.

The BOINC directory will default to C:\Program Files\BOINC\

On Windows 98/SE/ME the Data directory will default to C:\Windows\All Users\BOINC Data\ or C:\Windows\Profiles\All Users\BOINC Data\

On Windows 2000/XP/Server the Data directory will default to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\BOINC Data\

On Windows Vista the Data directory will default to C:\ProgramData\BOINC

The ProgramData directory may be hidden on Windows Vista. To see it, go to the root of the drive where you allowed it to be installed, then go to Tools>Folder Options>View Tab. Select "Show hidden files and folders". It will now be visible.

By default all options here are checked.

If you want to change any path, or change the default checked options, click Advanced.


In the Advanced screen, you can change the paths of the install directories and the way you want BOINC to be installed.

!!!! At all times keep the directories separate. When you try to install BOINC in one directory (say C:\BOINC) and run the Data directory as a subdirectory of the BOINC directory (say C:\BOINC\Data\), things will go haywire once you run BOINC. So just don't do it. !!!!

You can further choose to install BOINC with the screensaver activated*, to install BOINC as a protected installation and for it to be used and changed by all users on the computer, or not.

Seeing how some people are confused about this, I'll explain again: The Protected application execution option is the service installation option.

  • If you use the protected option, BOINC can only show graphics and screen savers from projects that use BOINC 6 compliant applications (separate science and graphics applications).
  • If you want to see the graphics and screen savers of the older applications as well (with it all built-in into the science application), then you need to uncheck this option. BOINC will then not be installed as a service! (trying to install as a service and then using the graphics work around no longer works. This has been disabled in BOINC 6).
  • If you allow BOINC to be controlled by all users on the computer, everyone can start BOINC Manager and attach to projects/detach from projects. When you uncheck this option and others want to run BOINC Manager, they will get a message saying to contact the administrator to add them to the 'boinc_users' group.


Click Install to continue.

From here on in, the installer will uninstall a previous version of BOINC if you had one and install the new version. It will add the boinc_admins and boinc_users groups to your computer, as well as the users groups boinc_master and boinc_project. It will add the service and start the service.


Warning: When you upgrade from a pre-6 version of BOINC, or from a version 6 provided by a 3rd party, you will need to reboot when the installer has finished. You also get this warning on the end screen of the installer:

There is now an option given to reboot later, but do know that you cannot run BOINC until you have rebooted the computer.

See the BOINC Six Client Installer for Windows page and the BOINC Six Logic Setup page for more information.

(*) The screen saver is installed by default, but not active when you don't want it to be. To start the screen saver, go to the properties of your Windows Display, screensaver tab, choose BOINC as the screen saver. That's all.

To stop BOINC 6.x when running as a service

Ways to stop BOINC 6.2.x when running as a service:

1) BOINC Manager->Advanced view->Advanced->Shut down connected client->OK->Cancel followed by BOINC Manager->File->Exit.

2) BOINC Manager->File->Exit followed by Windows Start button->Run, type net stop boinc, click OK.

3) BOINC Manager->File->Exit followed by Windows Start button->Run, type services.msc, click OK. Find BOINC in the Services applet. Right click on it, choose Stop from the drop-down menu.

To start BOINC and the service again, just go Start->Programs->BOINC->BOINC Manager link.


Q. Can I change the password on the boinc_master and boinc_project accounts?

A. Yes you can.

You will need to need to go to the service control manager and update the password to start the service (boinc_master). (BOINC->Properties->Logon) Next you need to use a base64 encoder to rehash the password and fill this in in the client_auth.xml file in your BOINC data directory. You can use a base64 encoder online, such as this one.

Do know that the passwords on the accounts are set to never expire.

Disabling BOINC Manager starting up

Q. Can I stop BOINC Manager from starting up?

A. Yes, you can.

In BOINC Manager go to the Advanced view, Advanced, Options, take the check off of "Run Manager at login?" and click OK. You may need to restart BOINC Manager to get that one to stick.

Alternative Advanced option, use regedit to go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\ and remove the link to boincmgr.exe ... (you have to do this for each user)

Original writer Original FAQ Date
Jorden 344 22-May-2008