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Windows has a feature called AutoPlay (or AutoRun) that automatically launches programs, videos, music, etc. Although it makes your computer-related life a little more comfortable, it is also notorious for letting malware take over your PC - so disabling AutoPlay for programs and removable drives is a very important step in securing any Windows computer. Malware can easily misuse autorun.inf files on CD-s, DVD-s, removable drives and even hard disks for launching malicious programs that make your computer a zombie in a botnet, a spam-sending server, or just steal your confidential data including passwords, credit card data, etc. If you are not familiar with malware types, read the Malware and web threats article.
While you can configure AutoPlay features with relative ease in Windows Vista and Windows 7/8, it is much more cumbersome in Windows XP. Also, disabling AutoPlay/AutoRun completely or restoring default settings for AutoPlay/AutoRun is not easy.
Here comes ControlAutoRun - my own small program for easy AutoPlay/AutoRun configuration in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, both in 32- and 64-bit versions. You can quickly switch autorun.inf blocking in Windows Registry on and off and disable or restore AutoPlay/AutoRun functionality in Windows versions listed above.
In Windows 8, disabling or restoring AutoPlay affects currently logged on user only; in other Windows versions, it affects all users.
To use ControlAutoRun you should have one of the Windows versions installed on your computer:
You must also have Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 2 installed on your computer. This is installed already by default on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Windows XP and Windows 2003 users should download and install it as described here. Windows 8 will offer to install the missing parts automatically.
ControlAutoRun must be run with administrative privileges (elevated rights) to allow setting values in Windows Registry. Instructions for this are provided here.
The latest version of ControlAutoRun is 1.1 and you can download its installer named carinstall1.1.exe from here.
Because the file is new and not digitally signed (code signing certificates are expensive, you can donate here), Windows 8's and Internet Explorer's SmartScreen Filter and anti-virus products (such as avast! Antivirus) might warn about this. Please allow downloading and running the setup program.
By default, ControlAutoRun will be installed in your My Documents (Windows XP and Server 2003) or Documents (Windows Vista, 7 and 8) subfolder named ControlAutoRun. This should be fine for all people, so click Install. Please remember that ControlAutoRun creates no Start menu items or Desktop icons - you can easily find it from your My Documents or Documents folder instead.
After the install is complete, the ControlAutoRun folder opens automatically and it might hide installer window. Anyway, you can always safely close the installer by clicking Close.
If you are logged in as an administrator in Windows XP or Server 2003, you can double-click the file named ControlAutoRun.exe now to launch the program.
Windows Vista. 7 and 8 users and Windows XP and Server 2003 users with no administrative rights should right-click the ControlAutoRun.exe file and select Run as administrator or Run as..., respectively.
Windows Vista, 7 and 8 users should click Allow or Yes in User Account Control warning window.
In case you did not launch ControlAutoRun with elevated (administrative) rights, you will see the following error message. Click OK and use Run as administrator or Run as... command.
Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8 do not have .NET 2.0 Framework installed by default. In such case, Windows XP and Server 2003 users might encounter error messages such as "The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000135)" or "To run this application, you must first install one of the following versions of the .NET Framework: v2.0.5027". Click OK or No in the dialogs.
Windows 8 users will see Windows Features dialog that offers to install .NET Framework 3.5. Click Download and install this feature.
To download Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 2, click this link.
Click Download to the right of your Windows version. x86 means 32-bit version of Windows and x64 means 64-bit version of Windows. Most users have 32-bit version (x86) of Windows XP and Server 2003.
Run the downloaded installer and follow instructions. Click Yes if you see a reboot/restart prompt. Wait until your computer restarts and then re-launch ControlAutoRun.exe from ControlAutoRun folder in (My) Documents folder.
After ControlAutoRun starts, it will display your current Windows version and check whether AutoPlay and autorun.inf blocking are disabled.
Text color above buttons denotes whether AutoPlay and autorun.inf blocking settings are as recommended: green means that the setting is fine, red means that the setting is not as recommended.
Here we have correct settings and no action is necessary:
Sometimes necessary Registry keys for controlling AutoPlay/AutoRun settings are missing (for example, in Windows 7 Release Candidate). In such case, ControlAutoRun automatically creates these keys and at sets safe settings. You will see a green message "Registry keys did not exist and they were created to disable autorun for all drives" and you should restart your computer after using ControlAutoRun.
If AutoRun/AutoPlay functionality is enabled, click Disable AutoPlay for all drives (recommended).
Click OK in the confirmation dialog. While you will see a dialog suggesting a restart after each action, you do not need to restart your computer before you have finished making changes and closed ControlAutoRun. You can also click any button more than once without a restart if that makes you happy.
If autorun.inf blocking is enabled, click Disable autorun.inf blocking (recommended) to remove the error-prone setting from Windows Registry.
Click OK in the confirmation dialog.
You can close ControlAutoRun either using keyboard shortcut Alt+F4 or by opening File menu and clicking Exit.
If you have made any changes to AutoPlay settings, it is necessary to restart your computer for the changes to take effect!
The Windows Registry entries that are affected by ControlAutoRun are:
In case you need to revert to Windows default AutoPlay settings for some reason, click Restore AutoPlay defaults (not recommended).
Click OK in confirmation dialog and restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
In Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista and 7, this will restore the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\NoDriveTypeAutoRun Registry entry to the default setting as specified for your Windows version in the Microsoft Support article 967715. In Windows 8, this will simply delete the DisableAutoplay key from HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AutoplayHandlers\.