Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AutoAdminLogon Setting On Vista Registry

The idea behind AutoAdminLogon is that a user(name) can logon at a computer without having to type a password. A typical scenario would be a test machine on a private network. With AutoAdminLogon enabled, when you restart the machine it automatically logs on a named user. The trick, which also its liability, is to set a value for DefaultPassword in the registry.
1.Launch Regedit
2.Navigate to:
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon 
Set: AutoAdminLogon = 1 (one means on, zero means off)
3.Tip: Try Regedit's 'Find': AutoAdminLogon
4.Create a new String Value called DefaultPassword
Set: DefaultPassword = "P@ssw0rd"
5.Check for the existence of a REG_SZ called DefaultUserName. The value should reflect the user who you wish to logon automatically. If this value does not exist, then right-click in the right pane, New, REG_SZ, name it, DefaultUserName. Set the string value to the required UserName.
6.Optional Item: If your Vista Machine has joined a domain, then create a String Value called DefaultDomainName.  Set: DefaultDomainName = "OnlyYouKnowDomain"

Here is a summary of the four key registry settings:

"DefaultDomainName"="xxx.xxx". Definitely needed in a domain situation.

Key Learning Points
*Do you find the AutoAdminLogon value in HKCU** or HKLM?
Answer: HKLM
*Do you have to add a value, or modify an existing setting? 
Answer: Modify 0 --> 1.
*Is it a String Value or a DWORD?
Answer: These are all REG_SZ (String value).
*Do you need to Restart, or merely Logoff / Logon? 
Answer: Restart
*Extra Information: With AutoAdminLogon you also need to create a REG_SZ called, DefaultPassword, and possibly another called DefaultDomainName.
If you ever need to breakout of AutoAdminLogon, hold down the shift key as Vista initializes and the user logs on. What the shift key does is enable you to logon as a different user.

Addendum for Vista Home Editions

I have been using AutoAdminLogon since NT 3.5, however, in Vista Home editions there is a much easier alternative, namely tick: 'Users must enter a user name and password'.

Navigate to the Control Panel, User Accounts and finally click on the Users tab, then remove the tick in:
'Users must enter a user name and password'. All you need to do next is type the password twice in the, 'Automatically Log On' dialog box. See screenshot. Once you restart Vista, it will logon that user automatically.

Double-check the logic of what you are ticking. Also, when you set a registry value to one or zero, read the value carefully. Half of all people who write and say 'Guy that tweak did not work', have not understood the logic, double negatives are a particular source of errors. 

Before you try the above configuration, note: I did not, repeat, not find this setting in a machine which had joined an Active Directory domain. 

Just out of interest I would check the registry to see how AutoAdminLogon has been configured (Regedit, Edit (menu) find AutoAdminLogon).

Creating a .Reg File
For my solution to work, I needed the same settings on all 8 machines. Thus from my machine I exported the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon branch of the registry into a .reg file, which I then imported to each of the delegates machines. No more problems with logging on after that. Training is the classic place to try these naughty but nice tricks; another scenario for AutoAdminLogon is for test machines not connected to a production network.

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