Securing an auto logon in Windows XP

It's okay to walk away from it all sometimes—and Greg Shultz shows you how to secure your XP machine when you have to turn your back.

Perhaps you prefer to have Windows XP automatically log you on to the system at start up, but because you're concerned with security you choose to manually log on. With an Autologon configuration, you can turn on your computer in the morning and, say, go get a cup of coffee. When you return, your system has logged on, loaded all the start-up programs, and is ready for you to sit down and go to work—no waiting involved. The bad thing is that while you're away, anyone can sit down at your computer and do whatever they want. Wouldn't it be nice if you could have your computer be totally ready to work, yet still password-protected when you return with your coffee? Well, you can!

Here's how:

  1. Press [Windows]+R to access the Run dialog box.
  1. Type Control userpasswords2 in the Open text box and click OK to access the User Accounts dialog box.
  1. Select your user name and clear the "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer" check box.
  1. Click OK to display the Automatically Log On dialog box, type your password in both the Password and Confirm Password text boxes, and click OK.
  1. Right-click on the desktop and select New | Shortcut from the context menu to access the Create Shortcut wizard.
  1. Type rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation in the "Type the location of the item" text box and click Next. (Take note of the uppercase letters in the word LockWorkStationas you type it—if you don't use the exact case, the shortcut will fail.)
  1. Type Lock Down in the Type A Name For This Shortcut text box and click Finish.
  1. Double-click the Lock Down shortcut to make sure that is works correctly.
  1. Drag the Lock Down shortcut over to the Start menu and place it in the All Programs | Startup folder.

Now when you turn on or reboot your system, it will automatically log on and then display the Unlock Computer dialog box or the Welcome screen while startup programs continue to load in the background.

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Professional and Home when used in standalone or in workgroup configurations.

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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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