Error message: “Security Center service cannot be started”

Applies to: Windows 7 EnterpriseWindows 7 Home BasicWindows 7 Home Premium


If you right-click a red flag in a “Windows Security Alerts" icon on the right side of the task bar, and then click Open Security Center, a message that reads "The Security Center service is turned off" is displayed in the Windows Security Center window.

If you click Turn on now under "Security Center," you receive the following error message:
The Security Center service can't be started.
If you continue to try, you still can't turn on the Security Center.


To resolve this problem, make sure that the Security Center service is configured correctly, and then start the Security Center service. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Use one of these steps to open Services.
    • To open Services in Windows 8:
      1. Tap and swipe from the right edge of the screen, or press Windows logo key+C.
      2. Tap or click the Search charm, and then click Settings.
      3. In the Search box, type services.
      4. Tap or click View local services.
    • To open Services in Windows 7 and Windows Vista:
      1. Click Start.
      2. In the Start search box, type services.
      3. In the Programs list, click Services.
  2. In the details pane, right-click (or tap and hold) Security Center, and then tap or click Properties.
    Services details pane
  3. In the Startup type list, tap or click Automatic (Delayed Start).
    Security Center Properties dialog box
  4. Then, try to start the service. In the Service Status area, tap or click Start.
    • If the service starts successfully, tap or click Apply, tap or click OK, and then close the Services window.
    • If you receive an error message that resembles the following message when you click Start, go to step 6 to reconfigure the log on user for the service:
      "Windows could not start the Security Center service on Local Computer. Error 1079: The account specified for this service differs from the account specified for other services running in the same process."
  5. In the Security Center Properties dialog box, tap or click the Log On tab, and then tap or click Browse.
    Security Center Properties dialog box
  6. In the Enter the object name to select box, type your computer name.
    Select User dialog box
    1. Tap or click Check Names, and then tap or click OK when the name is authenticated.
    2. In the Password box, type the administrator password.
    3. In the Confirm password box, retype the administrator password.
    4. Tap or click Apply, and then tap or click OK.
    5. Close the Services window.
If you find that Security Center is still not started and running as expected after you reconfigure and start Security Center and then restart your computer, you may be experiencing one or both of the following problems:
  • Your computer is infected by malware.
  • Your registry key is corrupted.
How to fix your registry key?
Use antivirus software to check your computer for viruses. Start the antivirus software, verify that the software is updated, and then run a complete scan. If any viruses or malware are found, clean or resolve the issues that the antivirus software identifies.

Some antivirus software is sold through renewable annual subscriptions. However, some programs are available for free. Microsoft offers Microsoft Security Essentials as free antivirus software that you can download from the Microsoft Security Essentials website. You can also go to the Windows Security software providers website to find antivirus software from other companies.

For more information about how to obtain free computer safety scanning software, go to the following Microsoft website:

More Information

For more information about Windows Security Center and other Windows security topics, go to the appropriate websites for your version of Windows:
Windows 7

What happened to Windows Security Center?

Security checklist for Windows 7

Windows Vista
Using Windows Security Center

Windows security checklist

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