What is Autorun?
Autorun is a feature introduced first in Microsoft Windows 95 operating system. It was made to make installation easier for user by removing technicalities in installation. If you insert a device on your system, Autorun would search the autorun.inf file inside the device. If it is found, Autorun would read it, run it accordingly. In short Autorun technology starts automatically a program of the inserted device according to the instruction encoded on the autorun.inf file.
What is the difference between Autorun and Autoplay?
Autoplay on the other hand, is a feature in Windows that lets you choose which program would you use to run or to start the variety of media. A good example for Autoplay is when you plug a USB device in your computer. If Autoplay is not disabled it would run, and give you a list or a dialog box of programs that can open the files inside the removable device. You would see “open folder to view files”, “play with windows media player”, etc. An example for Autorun is when you insert a DVD of a certain computer game. Once the DVD is inserted rather than give you a list of programs, it would automatically initialize and go directly to the installation window. Another example is when you insert a DVD movie and the moment you inserted it in your computer. It would play, without asking any permission from the user. My latter example only works for Windows XP, since in the latest version of Vista and seven Autoplay is triggered first before Autorun (if Autoplay is not disabled). Unlike XP which is the other way around.
Why do we need to disable Autorun?
Autorun is one feature in Windows that give us convenience since instead of us running the program. The system automatically launches it for us. We save time and effort, I guess so. This feature is likely to be abuse by malwares and viruses. Computer viruses use Autorun.inf files, once your system detected this file. Your system would “launch” the virus, if Autorun is not disabled. It is a file that your system automatically checks, once it is found your system would perform the instruction indicated in the Autorun.inf. So if it is a computer virus’ Autorun.inf, the virus would eventually install itself inside your system. It happened to me. The virus’ Autorun.inf was performed by my system. The result was devastating. The task manager was disabled. It killed my Anti-virus, and I cannot access the Internet.
You can disable it using GPEDIT.MSC which is applicable only in Windows XP and 7. You need to type gpedit.msc in Run which can be found in Start menu. You will be navigated to the Group Policy window. Select Administrative Templates, go to System after that you need to select Turn-off Autoplay. You will be navigated to turn off Autoplay Properties, choose“enabled”, after that confirm it by clicking “OK”. In Microsoft Windows 7 operating systems, the operation is a little different you just type “group policy” in the Windows Search Box. You will see Edit Group Policy select it after that the Local Group Policy Editor would be displayed. Choose:
Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Auto Play Policies>Turn off Autoplay
You will be navigated to the Turn off Autoplay window, choose enabled then click OK.
In Vista there is no GPEDIT.MSC, so you are left to disable the autorun using the Windows REGEDIT. First make a restore point for your system. Configuring the registry is no child’s play, a slight typo or mistake could be tragical for your system. So it is safe to make a restore point first, if your system is running funny after the registry editing we can always go back. Go to the registry editor by typing REGEDIT on the search box (or run box) then navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesExplorer
The REGEDIT command is also available in both XP and 7.
You could choose to which extent you would disable your Autorun, you could allow a certain Autorun to “run” it is all your choice. These are the recommended values:
I do recommend setting it to FF, to disable all Autorun. If you want to disable multiple Autoruns but not all Autorun, just add their values. For example, if you want to disable the Autorun of CD-ROM, removable and unknown drives add, 20+4+1 = 25. Hence, the value you would put is 25.
Do remember these are not the usual decimal numbers, these are HEX numbers. So you could try the windows calculator to add up these HEX numbers. Just open calculator, the default would be Dec, change it to Hex. Now you can add up Hex files.
The first values are in HEX value, the value below is in binary. In this way, you will more clearly understand the logic on how to disable multiple drives.
If you convert 00000100 to hex the value would be 4, which affirm the first value in Hex. Now if you want to disable the Autorun of the network drive and the DVD drive just add their values:
00010000+00100000 = 001100000, in hex it would be 16+20 = 32
Another method is this, type the following in notepad (or migh as well copy-paste it):
Then save it as autorunoff.reg, (well, I think any filename would do, just add the .reg thing to it. This is what my friend says, and it does work so better be safe than sorry). Remember, before meddling with your registry create a restore point.
You can also disable Autorun using a software. There are two softwares I know of that disables Autorun, Autorun remover and USB Disk Security. Sadly, both would cost you. Microsoft does offer a free one, but I don’t think it is that good.
The SHIFT key
Another simple way to disable Autorun is holding down the shift key. Before you insert any removable device try to hold down the shift key first. When you insert the device, Autorun is disabled via holding down the shift key. This method is good if you don’t want to meddle with your registry or download a software.
The Downside of Disabling
Whenever you insert any removable device, a window will pop out that says,“ choose the program you want to use to open this file”. Double clicking the device’s icon would yield the same result. There are some instances you need to find explorer.exe on your computer to open the device. It might annoy you. It does annoy me sometimes, but for the sake of being computer virus free it is bearable.