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Woops, Kontiki did it again – kservice.exe and the BBC iPlayer

The BBC iPlayerI wrote a post a couple of months ago after discovering Channel 4s 4OD service (via an in-built p2p application) was using my PC as a download server. That is to say, it was using my PC to distribute the files to other 4OD users even after I’d quit the application. Now I discover the BBC iPlayer is using the same intrusive, bandwidth sapping “malware” to manage their downloads. Woops.

I held out installing the iPlayer for a couple of weeks, even though I’d initially been pretty excited about it. I’d heard that the BBC were using the notorious kontiki p2p software, but assumed (or maybe hoped) that it might have been a little more flexible this time round – even if it just allowed me to change the port, or stop the uploading without having to add rules to my firewall. «sigh» I was wrong.

4OD were lucky, comparatively, not to get as much attention drawn to them as the iPlayer has. The key difference between 4OD and the iPlayer situations is the media coverage around the launch of the BBC app, both positive and negative. All the buzz around the fact the iPlayer would only work on Windows XP, the debates surrounding the DRM choices they made and the fact that its the BBC – if you live in the UK you’ve probably already paid your license fee, so essentially you’ve already paid to use it – all meant the critics were out in force looking for something to jump on. So the fact users are deceived into allowing their PCs to be used as an unofficial download server was always going to be portrayed as being a massive issue, and quite rightly so. Various groups have launched websites to protest the BBCs choice of Microsoft as a DRM software partner, and BT have even had to deny reports that they, along with other ISPs, are piling on the pressure to charge more for iPlayer content to deal with the upsurge in downloading from home PCs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not specifically a BBC/4OD hater or lover – I’m more of a Kontiki hater :wink: But I’m not willing to become one of the bandwagon crowd, shouting about how they’ll refuse to use the software because of it, blah blah blah – the words “cutting”, “nose”, “spite” and “face” instantly spring to mind. I didn’t stop using the web because pop-ups were getting on my nerves, and likewise I won’t miss out on watching something I want to see, just because the BBC use software provided by an unscrupulous company. There are ways around having the constant uploading or the 100% CPU usage, so its not a worry to me (although it is getting a bit tiring having to mess with firewall settings every time I want to use it). The problem is the hundreds of thousands of people that won’t know what to do, or won’t even realise. Remember how bad the spyware “epidemic” got before people started taking notice?

If you’re noticing any random firewall activity or high CPU usage (PC freezing, lagging, etc) since installing the iPlayer or 4OD, you can follow these instructions to configure a ZoneAlarm firewall to block the traffic when you’re not using the software. The instructions were written for 4OD, but adapting them for the iPlayer is straightforward enough. Let me know if you need any help.

In my opinion, CNET sum it up best when they say “We want to love iPlayer, we really do”… But they’re doing their best to make it as difficult as possible! Fingers crossed this is a BETA issue, but judging by the fact its now apparent in at least 3 TV on demand services (Sky By Broadband, 4OD and the iPlayer), I’m not holding out too much hope.

 

– Update 1 – 30/8/2007 –
For anyone technically minded that wants more information on the workings of the iPlayer/Kontiki P2P software, check out strix.org.uk/posts/The-BBC-iPlayer. It may be a bit daunting to anyone with no interest how software works, but I’d recommend it to anyone that does!

– Update 2 – 19/2/2008 –
Murad has come up with an application to stop kservice running completely, which could prove to be useful if you want to keep using iPlayer/4OD. Click here for more details.


45 Responses to “Woops, Kontiki did it again – kservice.exe and the BBC iPlayer”

  1. Mark

    I have installed the BBC Iplayer, didn’t realise that Kservice was acting as a server (or indeed what I was letting myself in for when installed) and found tonight that my computer had slowed for no apparent reason. That led me to Kservice and then to this blog.

    To stop kservice without uninstalling or doing the start/stop malarky go to Administrative Tools/Services. There you will find a list of all the services running on your computer. Scroll down the list till you find Kservice and double click. This brings up the properties dialog. Go to startup type and select “Manual” in the drop down menu. Now kservice will not start up automatically when you next restart the computer.

    You also need to select the Stop button to stop it running now.

    I have set my version to Disable and will only enable it when I wish to use Iplayer again.

    However on a philosophical note, if the BBC is using P2P as a way of delivering content then Kservice is probably delivering content to other users – so the more people who have Kservice disabled means the model of delivery breask down.

    However I think it should have been made clearer on the sign up page that we were actually signing up to P2P as I would have not so signed. Also the Iplayer is clunky in design and the interface is absolutely useless. Definitely a backward step. If this is the future of broadcasting – leave me with coax!

  2. Anony Mouse

    Just came across this page after noticing a VAST amount of UDP traffic on port 1948. Was getting awfully worried. Traced it back to KService.exe. Which in turn I found was part of 4OD. KService was rinsing my connection EVEN when 4OD wasn’t running (i.e. when 4OD was utterly off… not even a systray icon).

    Suffice to say, am not best pleased. And am even more disappointed to hear the BBC are using the same stupid application for their iplayer. Not good.

    Good blog though!!!

  3. Dee

    Quote
    —————————————————–
    I have set my version to Disable and will only enable it when I wish to use Iplayer again.
    —————————————————-
    I did this but found Kservice still runs and uses resources, I have dumped iPlayer for now.

    I expected better from an organisation like the BBC. I dont mind sharing but I want to be able to say when.

  4. anon

    Anony Mouse
    Sep 28th, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    how can you check which ports are being used, i use zone alarm and i cant figure this out.

    incidently you can BLOCK the servcie from opening up in zone alarm by selecting KILL in both entries which are

    DELIVERY MANAGER
    DELIVERY MANAGER SERVICE

    Just click on trust level for both and select KILL and will should stop them from being opened also i would go to Administrative Tools/Services as mentioned in the blog above as well.

    Also check the start up list in spybot search and destroy software to see if there is one still enabled.

  5. Not Happy

    Thanks for the information on this, I came across this page after searching Kservice.exe as my connection was very slow and it was the only new running program, Disapointed to read about P2P part of 4oD, It was nice watching the Farther Ted series for free but P2P software o.O uninstalling.

  6. I have used the IPlayer a couple of times now and although I was initially very wary of the P2P issue, I have been monitoring this for a bit now and KService is perfectly inert on my system unless I am actually using IPlayer. When I exit the BBC Library a popup asks me if I want to keep the P2P service running, I always choose no. It says it will remember your choices but it never remembers I’ve said no! But this makes me wonder – if I’d said yes, perhaps it would never ask me again, and simply keep running.

  7. @Kate B

    If I understand right, it seems how busy the P2P client is depends on how many shows you’ve downloaded. Ie, if you’ve downloaded one show one day before it expires and its not very popular, you won’t see much activity. If you download Eastenders an hour after its released, you’ll notice a lot more uploading going on.

  8. kservice.exe keeps crashing out on my machine heh – repeated access violations aren’t exactly a sign of well written quality code – would thought or maybe hoped that a company such as this would have maybe, just maybe employed just a little bit of quality assurance to their product.

  9. Ping

    I have not accessed/downloaded iPlayer or used the BBC/Channel 4 libraries and this service is installed on my machine. I guess by another similar application, but I cannot determine what and also why the firewall and PC security didn’t pick up the request for permanent port access.

  10. Thomas

    Hopefully someone can help me. I somehow disabled the KService a while back and now I can’t possible start it again and cannot open I player or 4OD. It is beggining to wind me up now. Any ideas?

  11. I installed both the iPlayer and 4OD. I was quite fortunate as the ISP I am with does not count uploaded data.
    In my case it’s more about the ISP not getting p*ssed at me, sure they don’t count it, but they might factor it in when they consider how much I download, and put me on a more heavily contended connection.
    Anyway, after a few days I did notice that my browsing speeds were suffering a little and it wasn’t until I opened NetLimiter that I saw the problem.
    I find kservice pushes my upload speed to the max occasionally and this will have an adverse effect on download speeds, about 80% of total upload speed is right for most clients.
    I now limit the upload speed to 0.1Kbps! Although I could probably make this fraction even less if so inclined, by switching to bytes as units.

    Using this neat little app means no buggering about with firewalls, or stopping of service. During off-peak hours when my downloads are free, I still tend to restrict kservice in favour of Azureus (another P2P app for those not in the know) but I do enjoy using 4OD so I like to leave it upping at around 10Kbps until I can see (in Netlimiter) that I have uploaded what I downloaded, and I feel this complies with the P2Pers code of honour.
    4OD works brilliantly for me. For my money iPlayer draws succulently upon the hairy testicle sack of Satan, I’m not just saying that, I had real problems streaming and downloading. And of course any avid reader of El Reg, http://www.theregister.co.uk, will be well aware of the rather amusing technological gaffs made by the Beeb (search BBC and Linux for more). http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/02/highfield_bbc_linux_website_users_bafflement/

    Phew! Hope my solution might benefit a few of you.
    No I don’t work for NetLimiter, I do recommend it as a fairly painless way of managing your traffic, but I’m sure there are plenty viable software alternatives that do the same thing.

    Peace!

  12. Sue

    Thanks for this – I found your blog after Googling “KSERVICE.EXE” after my computer had slowed down to a virtual standstill. I soon realised the problem lay with Kontiki, but incredibly this program still runs even AFTER I’ve uninstalled both 4oD and BBC iPlayer! And when I ran msconfig to try to stop it coming on at startup, I was told that only an administrator can do this. Fair enough – but I AM the administrator! Any suggestions?

  13. M dot T

    Apparently you can uninstal the KService

    jus follow the intructions on this website

    http://www.skymovies.com/skybybroadband/articles/article04

    i havent tried it myself yet

  14. Sue

    Thanks – I’ll give that a try. Since my post yesterday I’ve now reinstalled 4oD, but can’t get it to open! Does it need KService.exe to be running before it will do anything? (Incidentally I’ve only had this problem since I installed BBC iPlayer. I’d been using 4oD for several months without any of this hassle – I wonder if these facts are in any way connected?)

  15. Sue

    Update – I’ve now successfully uninstalled kservice.exe by following the instructions above. Many, many thanks!

  16. Have just installed iPlayer, and hence discovered this whole kservice nonsense. Will stick with it for 24 hours to see how it pans out when I’ve got a handful of things downloaded, but I don’t like the sound of it a lot. Thanks for all the help and uninstall instructions anyway, I may be back tomorrow to read them in a bit more detail…

  17. Angry Mike

    KService is killing my machine. It was all fine until I installed the iPlayer download software and now even after uninstalling it I cannot watch online without KService running and crashing my pc

  18. Rod

    Had a similar problem- under certain conditions I can’t even view the downloaded program without the screen freezing intermitantly. Don’t know if this is the best way buy I end Khost and Kservice in Task Manager. I then execute the .exe files in C:/Program Files/Kontoki when needed.

  19. The Sunseeker

    Interesting this…

    I have installed 4oD and BBC iPlayer on a 2GB Qosmio toshiba laptop running as a media server serving an xbox 360 as a media extender. I have had the extender playing a programme (wifi from the toshiba) whilst downloading from 4oD…

    My veiw is that running the Kservice is the price you pay to be able to download contentent quickly (from others using P2P rather than from dedicated servers).

    Instead of stopping and starting Kservice I just make it “idle” by moving downloaded programmes to another directory and wathching them using Media Player.

    It looks like Kservice uploads files from specific folders and if they are empty it does nothing.

    ANYONE TECHNICAL – IS THIS TRUE…

    The reason I got pissed wioth 4oD is that during a recent “upgrade” they seamed to have embedded somethjing in their programmes that forces the use of the 4oD player!!! Meaning you csan’t watch using Media Player…

    I am currently complainiong against this change as i want to use the DRM content from my media server to other devices on my network (like the 360)

  20. I blogged about the Kontiki thing – and how I discovered what was going on – just the other day in an item called “Who’s Hogging Your Bandwidth?” Then I discovered that hundreds of other bloggers had written about it too! So I guess I’m a bit behind the times … still, good to know I managed to track it down all by myself – and got it right :)

  21. Alan

    Thanks soo much for this article, my computers speeded right back up now that i’ve stopped them from loading up, just glad i managed to find them in the windows task manager before i got really pissed off.

  22. Seneska

    I dll’d the BBC iplayer yesterday, and wondered at my vast CPU usage today. Searching for the Kservice exe brought me here. Thank you for your help and advice in how to manage the problem.

  23. Miranda

    Many thanks for all the handy tips!!!

  24. Mash

    Very useful page, thanks alot.

    Kservice.exe is the last straw for my ageing laptop and pushes it over into near constant paging.

    I don’t mind letting P2P services use my bandwidth however Kservice has really made a nuisance of itself. Not just in terms of bandwidth but in it’s memory footprint as well.

    I’ve set the service to manual for now.

  25. Peter

    There is a simple solution to this, but not ideal. Just don’t download and stream only. That’s what I do. I removed Kontiki (after several attempts and having to go into processes and applications running, etc to clean what uninstall missed). Now my laptop flies along and whereas previously it took ages to come to the desktop on start-up, it appears instantaneously now. The only problem is, you need to avoid peak times to watch your shows because the streaming is really poor on iPlayer. It’s pretty good on 4oD though with rarely a buffer in sight.

  26. Wayne

    I’m not happy with this. I’ve just spent the best part of 2hours with a laptop which appeared not to sit on the domain properly as it was hanging at “Applying Computer Settings” only to find out the user has installed this software.

    Disabled service and locked the folder down so the program can never be started again and all is well again.

    C’mon BBC/C4. Don’t put your name to Alpha release rubbish like this

  27. Michael

    Hi there,

    No need for complicated applications to get rid of Kservice.exe – the answer exists within Windows XP.

    All you need to do is run the Service Manager Console ( select “Run” from the startup menu and type – services.msc) and change the startup option for Kservice from “automatic” to “manual”. This will stop the Kservice from automatically loading on boot up, but will still be loaded when you invoke 40D or BBC iPlayer. This will stop the little beast from grabbing system memory on startup, and only allow it to share your downloads when you are actually using one of these programs.

    HTH
    Michael

  28. SuzyB

    Thanks for this. I only noticed that kservice afer it had an error and appeared in my event log.

    Its now on my firewall’s banned list.

  29. Adam

    This is quite interesting. I only went to search for KService after I wanted to clean up my pc a bit. Had nothing to do with BBC in my mind. I just find it to be really annoying that it happens EVERY time you start up, with no indication. As it happens, I preferred the 4OD anyway, I always streamed it and it ran fine for me…BBC was so slow that I could BT in roughly 20 mins before it had reached 20%.

  30. ripsometime

    thank you i uninstalled iplayer and will only be watching it online now not downloading i don’t want them stealing my bandwidth and kservice.exe has never come up in process explorer and the main file is gone

  31. james

    have installed 4od + Sky anytime and been having the same problem.

    followed this guys advice

    “All you need to do is run the Service Manager Console ( select “Run” from the startup menu and type – services.msc) and change the startup option for Kservice from “automatic” to “manual”. This will stop the Kservice from automatically loading on boot up, but will still be loaded when you invoke 40D or BBC iPlayer. This will stop the little beast from grabbing system memory on startup, and only allow it to share your downloads when you are actually using one of these programs.

    HTH
    Michael”

    hopefully it will work.

  32. I’ve only just installed iPlayer, but its settings include options telling it not to allow others to download from you while the download manager isn’t running, and not to start the download manager when windows start. Naively I assume this means that kservice will only be running with the download manager is running, but I’ve yet to test it.

    Of course this may well be a change since you originally wrote this article, but none of the more recent comments suggest it.

  33. Ronan

    PeerGuardian 2 started flashing recently about port 1948 and I ended up here. I’ll be un-installing BBC iPlayer now. To find out whether other P2P is running unexpectantly on a PC it’s a useful bit of software, blocked domain list gets updated daily.

  34. Apparently the BBC have tried to fix this bandwidth stealing by putting a little tick box in their application stating that you are only sharing the items whilst the program is running. 4OD have done exactly the same thing. I’ve got PeerGuardian2 installed which when enabled tells BBC and 4OD where to take their illegal bandwidth stealing. I notice that despite putting a tick in that box on the iPlayer when I quit the iPlayer it is STILL attempting to hack illegally through my firewall and contact an IP address which is owned by the BBC. I have sent a cease and desist e-mail to both the owners of the IP address and the BBC themselves, however have had no response. 4OD on the other hand DOES stop taking my bandwidth when it’s told to. I only get reports of 4OD attempting to go through PeerGuardian2 when I am running the software and I’ve specifically told it. So if 4OD have managed to stop hacking into peoples systems how come the BBC can’t manage it? Is the BBC accidentally or deliberately flouting the law, or does the BBC consider themselves above the law?

    Anyway this is the IP address iPlayer is constantly trying to access even when it’s not running and has been specifically told not to contact the BBC when it’s not running:-

    212.58.250.36

    Despite sending e-mails to the BBC to tell them to stop their actions I have still had no reply. I presume they are aware that attempting to hack into someone else’s PC without their permission is breaking the computer misuse act.

  35. buttermere

    Hi thanks for this thread but can someone help me? I added some (internal) harddrive to my pc. It was larger and runs a E: drive so I thought I would be clever and drog / move there all the things I didn’t want clogging up the small amount of gb I have (80gb) So i moved ipod, 4od Iplayer and all my photos etc. Ever since then I can’t open any of those applications, or watch any downloaded films.
    Then I started to get lots of download manager error messages and the messages related to kservice.exe I continually get messages szAppName:kservice.exe
    So I decided to uninstall 4od and bbc iplayer anyway as I don’t use them they kept crashing my pc, which is why I got the extra gb in first place!

    I can’t either move back or delete or remove the components of the two tv players. They remain in my programmes, I have used a free reg cure and 2 others didn’t work?

    I tried using the kclean programme that sky blog offered- no joy all still there but none can be used.

    Does anyone have any non- complicated ideas of what’s going on?

    many thanks JB

  36. Roger Gibbons

    Just found this website after getting error messages about kservice. Like most other people I don’t like this sort of thing, and BBC should really be taken to task over this.

    I used Revo uninstaller to get rid of iPlayer and associated rubbish, and it was quite an eye-opener to see just how many registry entries had been made – dozens.

  37. Rob

    This solved all problems for me

    1. Uninstall Iplayer Download Manager and/or 4OD using Add/Remove programs.
    2. Uninstall Kontiki by running KClean.exe http://static.sky.com/kclean/KClean.exe.
    3. Then delete the remnants of the Kontiki folder in Program Files if it’s still there.
    4. Check the Services list again. KService should no longer be present.
    5. Reinstall Download Manager and/or 4OD.
    6. Check Services list. KService should now be present and “Started”.
    7. Both programs should now work!

  38. chippy

    i have downloaded and removed the iplayer several times.runs fine for about a week then slowly turns my pc into a vegetable over a couple of days.` resonably new to computers so it has not been easy to work out what is going on,finally traced my problems by watching the processesin the task manager whilst running different applications in turn. i am not pleased at all with the iplayer as i use my pc as my only means of watching tv, i pay my licence fee and in return the bbc choose to hyjack my pc and make it unusable. the 100% cpu usage crashes my other downloads, crashes my 3g modem repeatedly and causes quite a few other miscellanious problems. i have purged and reinstalled my system several times this year. it runs great until i download the i player and then……thanks very much for your insight, i hope i can now resolve this problem.

  39. paul.bowen

    Aha! Thanks so much!

  40. almu

    I installed BBC iPlayer but have made very little use of it and am going to uninstall it so I was not pleased to find that a p2p system Kservice had also been installed. For me the situation is more serious than the p2p system slowing my computer or consuming cable capacity therby slowing my connection. My ISP, Virgin Media, imposes “traffic management” whereby it caps downloads and uploads between 10.00am and 9.pm. If you transgress the limit your connection is crippled for the next ****four**** hours. If this happens just before 9.00pm you will be crippled for that time even though much of it is outside the time limits!

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