Ask the Doctor: No Way, AutoPlay!


With viruses spreading on USB drives like they used to with floppies, is there a way to prevent Windows from automatically running the executable when you plug in the USB drive? I would rather be safe than have Windows automatically launch programs on USB drives, DVDs, etc.

Kevin Campbell

It’s not clear from your question whether you’re running XP or Vista, so to cover our bases, we’ll discuss both. In XP, you can use the Microsoft PowerToy called TweakUI ( ); in TweakUI’s drop-down menu you can find AutoPlay. Select Drives and uncheck your optical drive and any USB drive letters.

In Vista, go to the Control Panel (the Control Panel Home screen, not Classic View); under Hardware and Sound, click Play CDs or Other Media Automatically. Then uncheck the box at the top marked Use AutoPlay for All Media and Devices. If you don’t want to disable AutoPlay completely, you can chose options for specific media types from that menu, too.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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