Shell Hardware Detection

The Shell Hardware Detection (ShellHWDetection) service monitors and provides notification for AutoPlay hardware events. AutoPlay is a feature that detects content such as pictures, music, or video files on a removable storage device. AutoPlay then automatically starts applications to play or display that content, which simplifies the use of specialized peripheral devices such as MP3 players and digital photo readers. The service also makes it easier for users because they do not need to know beforehand what software applications are needed to access various content types.

AutoPlay supports a variety of media content types and applications. Independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) can extend this support to include their devices and applications. A user can configure AutoPlay for any combination of pictures, music files, and video.

Media and device types that are supported by AutoPlay include:

  • Removable storage devices, including a USB flash drive, an external or removable drive, a CF card, or other types of external storage devices that can be easily removed from a computer
  • PC cards
  • External hot-plug USB or 1394 fixed drives
  • Supported content types, which include:
    • Pictures (.jpg, .bmp, .gif, and .tif files)
    • Music files (.mp3 and .wma files)
    • Video (.mpg and .asf files)

If the service stops, the Hardware AutoPlay functionality does not work and shell performance is also affected.

This service is installed by default on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and its startup type is Automatic.

When the Shell Hardware Detection service is started in its default configuration, it logs on by using the Local System account.

The Shell Hardware Detection service is dependent upon the following system components:

  • Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
  • DCOM Server Process Launcher
  • RPC Endpoint Mapper

The following system component is dependent upon the Shell Hardware Detection Service:

  • Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)

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