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autorun.inf ignored on external hard drives?

    Question

  • I have a portable usb-powered hard drive I use to run many and varied programs. To this end, I have an autorun.inf file set up on my portable hard drive which runs a menu program automatically, and has some launch options for the right-click context menu of the drive. However when this file is on my drive and the drive is plugged in, windows 7 autorun scans the drive and shows the normal options (show pictures, play videos, show all files, etc), but it does not show the option to run the specified program as it did in previous versions of windows. Nor does it show any of the specified context menu options.
    However the icon attribute specified in the autorun.inf is used, and the icon used for the drive is changed.

    I've searched through the auto run settings within the control panel, and found no relevant settings, and I have disabled and re-enabled autorun settings, but it hasn't helped at all.


    Here is an example of my autorun.inf contents, for completeness of this query. It works fine on older versions of Windows.

    ----File start: autorun.inf-----


    [Autorun]
    Open=PStart.exe
    Action=Run PStart
    Icon=FoFiX\src\fofix.ico
    Label=Portable FoFiX

    shell\ProcExp\command=Tools\procexp.exe
    shell\ProcExp=Run Process Explorer

    shell\PStart\command=PStart.exe
    shell\PStart=Run PStart

    ----File end: autorun.inf-----
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 10:19 PM

Answers

  • Death -

    You may have missed the memo.... Autorun/Autoplay have been seriously reworked in response to the numerous potential threats out there. If you'll recall a few months back, there was this nasty virus spreading around known as Conficker. One of it's favorite means for replicating itself on other systems was by way of USB stick or external hard drive.
    • Marked as answer by axfelix Friday, June 12, 2009 6:29 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by death_au Sunday, June 14, 2009 12:19 AM
    • Marked as answer by death_au Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:06 AM
    Friday, June 12, 2009 3:34 AM

All replies

  • Death -

    You may have missed the memo.... Autorun/Autoplay have been seriously reworked in response to the numerous potential threats out there. If you'll recall a few months back, there was this nasty virus spreading around known as Conficker. One of it's favorite means for replicating itself on other systems was by way of USB stick or external hard drive.
    • Marked as answer by axfelix Friday, June 12, 2009 6:29 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by death_au Sunday, June 14, 2009 12:19 AM
    • Marked as answer by death_au Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:06 AM
    Friday, June 12, 2009 3:34 AM
  • So due to a couple of threats this functionality, which is quite often at the core of my windows experience (I use portable applications on many many machines), is gone forever? That's not right. What SHOULD happen, as a response to potential threats, is simply disabling the "application on the device" autorun option by default, then including an advanced option to re-enable it which gives a warning about not being a recommended action due to potential security risk. Just like UAC, automatic updates and the security centre. Disabling any of these is a security risk, but is possible anyway. It should be up to the end user to decide if they want to take that risk.
    Sunday, June 14, 2009 12:19 AM
  • Death -

    Seriously... "...a couple..."?

    9+ million infected with Conficker. The US military has entirely BANNED USB thumb drives from being plugged into their computers because there's a definite threat of attack.

    The fact is - if something can be exploited once, it can be exploited again and again. This isn't the first time this sort of thing happened. That is why Microsoft released an advisory to disable autorun/autoplay. I'm sorry it's cutting into your way of doing things - but in the long run it may stop a lot of malware from getting a foothold on otherwise clean systems.

    Your idea has some merit and you're free to make a feature request posted to the "Have Comments about Windows 7 RC (part 4)" thread.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009 1:38 AM
  • Autorun/autoplay never was a good idea.  I realized this from the start (in the 90's).  I had seen too many boot sector viruses, so I always disabled it.  It boggled my mind what a couple hundred bytes could do to disable a computer.

    When I discovered the setting available in Group Policy, that became my preferred method, either with Local Policy or Domain, when it was my own domain.

    I realize that any decent antivirus software should check an inserted CD, or attached removable drive before allowing access to it, but it cant check for what it doesn't know about;  if the malware isn't in it's definitions it can only do basic checks.
    Sunday, June 14, 2009 2:02 AM
  • Autorun/autoplay never was a good idea.  I realized this from the start (in the 90's).  I had seen too many boot sector viruses, so I always disabled it.  It boggled my mind what a couple hundred bytes could do to disable a computer.
    I understand this. That is why I suggested my workaround. Even if it isn't "a good idea", it doesn't seem a good idea to completely remove a feature that is being frequently used. End users with a moderate to advanced amount of understanding about the risks involved should have the option to continue doing so if they so wish.
    I personally would never allow a usb device to auto run a program if I didn't know what it was. Same as suspicious downloads and email attachments. If used in a large business I WOULD disable the autorun functionality. But in my own home, on my own computer, I would like to be able to plug in my device and run the program included when the dialog pops up asking me.

    As Wolfie suggested, I have posted my feature request on the linked thread.
    And as much as I disagree with the feature being written out, I thank you for your helpful input on the matter.
    Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:06 AM
  • Hi. i'm having the same problem. I have an external hard disk. i created a small partition on it to be used for my portable apps. And i really need to use the Autorun feature.

    For it to work, i need to make that partion appear as a removable storage device. So if anyone have an idea please let me know. I have tried everything i can think of :(
    Monday, March 21, 2011 11:27 PM
  • the AutoRun.inf is no longer used for external drives to prevent Virus infections. This was also backported to XP and Vista as updates:

    Improvements to AutoPlay



    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

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    Tuesday, March 22, 2011 2:55 PM