Setting up Automatic Login

Some installations of Windows 7 are set to allow the default user to log in automatically when the computer starts. However, requesting users to enter their login credentials when the computer starts is highly recommended as it is a security measure. Conversely, when the computer is located in physically secure location, automatic logon might be preferred. Remember, that anyone with physical access to the computer can start the system and access your data if user login is set to auto!

If Windows 7 is joined to a domain the option to automatically login is no longer available while you cannot set this feature on domain controllers and member servers. The tool that allows you to configure automatic login is called netplwiz. Follow these steps to enable automatic login:

  1. From the Start search text box type netplwiz and press Enter
  2. From the Users tab of the User Accounts window, select the account from the list of users you want to automatically login
  3. Uncheck the Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer
  4. Click OK
  5. In the Automatically Log On dialog box, enter the user’s password twice
  6. Click OK

The next time you restart the computer, it will automatically login with the local user account you selected.
Follow these steps to disable automatic login:

  1. Follow the same steps of the previous procedure to start netplwiz
  2. Now, check the Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer
  3. Click OK

Configuring automatic login stores the user’s password in the registry unencrypted which may represent a security weakness for critical systems.

Advanced users can tweak the system directly from the registry by modifying the ‘AutoAdminLogin’ value to ‘0′ to disable automatic login and ’1′ to enable it. The key is found in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon.