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I have a non-daemon server app that my windows 2003 server needs to run all the time. The problem is, every time the server restarts, be it electricity or windows update, someone needs to press ctrl alt del and enter username/password. Then the program starts, as it's in startup. How do I make windows 2003 to automatically log in to administrator or spawn a terminal services session every time the system boots?

I know it's against the nature of servers and all. But this is the only thing the server does.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There's a registry hack that allows you to perform an automatic login by storing user creditials in the registry. It's not secure, but it does what you want.

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Thank you. Just what I was looking for. –  Ertugrul Kara Feb 12 '10 at 13:48
You can add this shortcut to your startup items to lock the machine after it logs in. technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc750823.aspx This lets your application run but doesn't leave your machine unsecured. I have used this successfully in a similar situation and it works perfectly. –  minamhere Feb 12 '10 at 15:39
@minamhere Win + L does the same thing! –  Savage Garden Jan 20 at 7:06
  1. Run control userpasswords2
  2. Unchek checkbox "User must enter username and pass..."

  3. Run gpedit.msc Compurer configuration > Administrative template > System > Display Shutdown event tracker >Setings select radio button: "disabled" .

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I had the same situation a few years back. You can use the run command to open the old Users / Passwords by running "control userpasswords2" in the run dialog. It is easier to setup a user to auto login then the registry hack. I then had a script that would start the program I needed and lock the PC so it wasn't left unsecured. Like the link above "rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation" will lock the work station or server in this case.

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I would suggest creating a service which you can do from any .exe with this method.

This will make your program run on startup without having to login. If you subsequently need to interact with the program you can connect to the console session.

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+1; running it as a service is the way to go. Alternatively pop it in a computer startup script in the local policy. –  Darth Melkor Feb 12 '10 at 13:53
This is a good answer, with a caveat. This doesn't work for everything, so it does requires testing. –  mfinni Feb 12 '10 at 16:40

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