Why doesn’t this registry hack for disabling autorun work?


A customer reported that they used a registry hack to disable Autorun, and it doesn't work. "Do we have any documentation on the above registry key so I can check that they applied it properly?"

There is no documentation on that registry key because it's just some people putting together fragments of information in the hopes that something interesting will happen. Sort of like saying, "I found this Web site that says that if I take my vacuum cleaner, reverse the power leads, then plug it into a transformer that steps the voltage down, I can use it like a hair dryer. I tried it, but it doesn't work. Is there any documentation on the Hoover Web site that goes into the details of this technique so I can check that I performed the steps properly?"

There is a "Disable autorun" group policy. That is the supported mechanism.

Comments (28)
  1. Ray Koopa says:

    I hate websites suggesting (unexperienced) people (who tend to mess up) to modify registry rather than using group policy. One might say the registry way is recommended because these users don’t have a professional edition of Windows which doesn’t ship with the group policy editor. I say people who don’t use a home edition of Windows for a reason shouldn’t do registry editing.
    Next step they do: Download a weird, ad-supported bloated WPF tool written in VB.NET which sets the registry key with bad WinAPI interop.

    1. Josh B says:

      A few people have created repackaged versions of gpedit.msc for Home editions, but I haven’t seen a well-supported one that’s actually kept up to date. Probably violates every license in the book.

      It shouldn’t be difficult for simple 3rd party software to read adm and admx files to properly list and apply group policy for each OS version in the absence of a native editor. (And if a policy-defined feature doesn’t exist in Home, it doesn’t exist, oh well.) You’d think someone could even create an annotated edition that would be a significant improvement on the original. The fact that everyone just wants to “apply this tweak file but it messed my PC up” makes me sad for humanity.

    2. voo says:

      “I say people who don’t use a home edition of Windows for a reason shouldn’t do registry editing.”
      There seem to be a few negations too many or little in there, but if I get your gist, are you really suggesting that only people who spend extra money should be allowed to disable autorun?

      If you don’t offer people a nice supported way to do something, they will use other ways and cause you headaches. That’s how it is.

      1. Ray Koopa says:

        Oops, yeah, I should proof-read my comments hastily written at work break. It should be “I say people who use a home edition of Windows for a reason shouldn’t do registry editing.” What I think is that if people use a Home Edition, they sometimes wouldn’t even care about what Autorun does or what it is. If you are professional enough to know that, and probably know in advance you want to disable it, Home Editions will not make you happy in general, I guess.

    3. MarcK4096 says:

      I often finding myself putting registry settings into Group Policy Preferences rather than using the actual group policy setting itself. (I use gpsearch.azurewebsites.net to look up the details.) GPP offers very nice item-level targeting options that regular old group policy does not.

  2. Lennart says:

    But the group policy editor isn’t available in all Windows editions, isn’t it?I remember XP Home didn’t have it.

  3. Brian_EE says:

    If you were really looking for a vacuum/hair dryer combination device, someone already beat you to the punch: http://www.google.com/patents/US8028437

    1. exchange development blog team says:

      Turnex, the son of Durex
      The only blender which can be turned
      Into the most powerful vacuum cleaner!

    2. Engywuck says:

      a combination of vaccum and hooded hair dryer was done in the seventies by german comedian Loriot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c4mv61O3KQ&t=198
      “es saugt und bläst der Heinzelmann, wo Mutti sonst nur saugen kann” (…the Heinzelmann (think of a brownie) sucks (vacuums?) and blows, where mother otherwise could only suck). Yes this double entendre is already in the german version.

  4. xcomcmdr says:

    And the article is behind a paywall. Seems legit. … NOT !

  5. Joshua says:

    Well you’ve opened a can of worms. Certain vital security and accessibility settings are only accessible from group policy, but group policy does not exist on home editions of Windows. The cognitive dissonance of the tech support staff when I had to call in about one of these was terrible to behold.

    1. If a corporate customer is using Home Edition, then they’ve got other problems.

      1. Brian_EE says:

        A corporate customer may have employees who use their home computers to connect to a corporate network via VPN. Until recently my personal home machine was able to connect directly to the network. Now, I have to use Remote Desktop to my office machine when connecting from home – which I guess is for viral/malware/etc security.

      2. Joshua says:

        I’m not taking about corporate customers. I’ve identified 2 switches that should be exposed to all editions of Windows. This is one of them. The other one is “UAC: Show elevation prompts on the secure desktop” (default = enabled).

      3. cheong00 says:

        Please aware that lots of laptops that companies use comes with Home version of Windows too.

        Say that for one of my ex-companies, they buy “display machine” from shops for about 50% off of market price. While the machine still gets 1 year warranty, it doesn’t get the option to switch to Pro edition of Win7 (and hence the Win7 pro recovery CD).

        1. DWalker says:

          Yes, and it’s a BAD IDEA for companies to buy computers with home versions of Windows. Regardless of the discount. I had to repeatedly coach a company I work with, who liked to run down to the local big-box store and buy whatever computer was on sale.

          I told them that if they wanted to contract with me to support a computer that’s used in a business network, then it needs to have a business operating system. And I offered to upgrade it to Windows Pro for them.

  6. Hi Raymond,

    I’ve noticed a value named “SlowContextMenuEntries” in the following key in Windows 10:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

    It’s not plain-text. Do you know what this key is about, and does OS store the list of slow context menu handlers in that value? I’m not sure if this key existed in previous Windows versions.

    I’d appreciate any insight you may give on this matter.

    Thanks for your time,

    1. I think you missed the point of today’s article.

      1. dave says:

        Maybe it’s just me, but I supposed that to be a dry sense of humour.

        1. Ray Koopa says:

          I, at least, had a laugh about it.
          Wait, he is serious? Let me laugh more. ;)

  7. Dave Bacher says:

    If I search on a question, I’m far more likely to get a hit on a highly optimized SEO page with the exact question than any official Microsoft source. The validity of the article is likely to be just from comments — Google / Bing don’t show inbound links, but I’d be willing to bet there are many link farming links from unrelated sites and very few legitimate links, just because of how Internet works.

    Even on Stack Overflow, you can find a lot of bad advice — and you don’t have to look very hard for that.

    1. Tramb says:

      Bing gives the same result.
      Maybe MS should strive for good documentation instead of blaming the users.

    2. poizan42 says:

      Less insane url: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/cc144204

      And it’s hardly a registry hack when it is indeed documented by Microsoft. Sorry Raymond, but for once I think the customer is indeed right.

    3. cheong00 says:

      The linked KB article specified this registry is for up to Vista and Win2008 only, so maybe it doesn’t work for Win7+ and Win2008R2+ and hence we have this blog post.

      1. Tramb says:

        Yep, but my point was : “how do you find the proper supported way by yourself ?”

  8. _Emin_ says:

    The article you mentioned is dated from 2007 (and is private, I cannot see the full article). No doubt, it has something to do with Windows XP and its weakness at that time.
    You can find more info on https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA09-020A about

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