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External USB drive opens Explorer from AUTORUN.INF

(25 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by ispalten
  • Latest reply from ScottW
  • Topic Viewed 14775 times

ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Like the topic says, it happens on every boot.

External drive is always connected and when the system boots the AUTORUN.INF contains a single line command,

============
[autorun]
ICON=AUTORUN\WDLOGO.ICO
============

This is a 1TB Western Digital external USB drive. Drive letter assigned by Vista 64 bit Home Prem. is G:. Explorer opens up on boot to the root of G:.

I've seen similar stuff in the past however, usually due to a malformed STARTUP or REGISTRY entry. A command with blanks in it but no quotes around it, and Explorer opens up to the part that is the first blank.

What I mean is this, if the command in the Registry or Startup folder is

G:\OPEN THIS FOLDER

for example and OPEN THIS FOLDER does exist, since there are not "'s around the command, G:\OPEN is looked for, and since not found, opens to G:\. The fix of course would be to change it to "G:\OPEN THIS FOLDER" and it would work properly.

However, searching ALL possible startup locations and even MSCONFIG doesn't show anything calling anything on G:?

Suggestions? For now I've renamed the AUTORUN.INF file to stop the problem. Vista doesn't seem to have a setting for only USB drives?

Irv S.

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, I don't know why, but all of the advice that I see says to put the icon file in the root directory. This is how I have it on my Seagate FreeAgent and it doesn't open the drive folder when booting Vista or 7. The autorun.inf file here reads:

[autorun]
icon = .\FreeAgentDesktop.ico

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

It isn't the only WD drive I have, just a new one. The other 3 also have it set as this one? This is the only one I've connected up to this Vista system however? All the others were used on XP PRO or HOME systems.

I did notice a setting in the AUTORUN in CONTROL PANEL though? It is USE AUTOPLAY FOR ALL MEDIA AND DEVICES and it is checked on. I've read the HELP and it indicates it just determines if AUTOPLAY is on or off for the listed devices. Those that show are NON-VOLUMES it says and excludes Flash Drives and External Drives. Doesn't seem to be the case though? I insert a flash drive and up it comes to Explorer. Mixed Content is set to display via Explorer. For the Flash drive it ALWAYS asks me what to do, nothing or open Explorer? Almost sounds like a VISTA bug?

I can edit the AUTORUN and try the root, no harm in trying that as well?

One of my Flash drives has U3 on it, that opens correctly and provides 2 drive letters, one for U3 and the other for the drive itself and that doesn't open Explorer?

Hmmm.... I love these obscure proplems, not!

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

UPDATE...

Changed the INF to point to the root and moved icon there. Re-booted, same problem, Explorer opened.

Changed the AUTOPLAY setting and re-booted. Explorer DID NOT open, BUT U3 didn't start. Had to launch it manually. It did assign 2 drive letters to the U3 Flash drive though AND the WD icon was loaded? Odd, no?

So I'm setting it back to be on, sigh...

I might try MS forums, I searched the web and didn't see anyone else with this problem. I've also written WD, see what they say?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Found this MS KB article, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/967715/, and I don't have that key so it should work like XP? I assume it DOES use the DEFAULT if none present.

Still doesn't explain the opening of Explorer though?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Got a nonsense answer from WD, XP instructions no less.

From what I've been able to discover I'm out of luck I guess?

When you open MY COMPUTER, you can RMB and get up the CONTEXT MENU. On there (all drives but the first physical's partitions have this) is OPEN AUTOPLAY choice. When you select that you can set what happens under certain circumstances or the default, open Explorer. Physical hard drives, that can't be removed have this 'feature', but I don't know why as nothing can happen with them? Seems like a bug to me, but I digress. The only other choice, is to open the AUTOPLAY settings on the bottom and DISABLE MIXED MEDIA and have it do nothing. Great, but it stops ALL drives from doing this. Stopping just REMOVEABLES wouldn't work either I think, not sure what the USB drive is considered.

I may just give up or live with this. I might also tinker with the drive settings from the MS KB article if I really get annoyed.

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, I have seen a similar behavior. I get this Autoplay window when powering on an external USB-attached hard drive:

There is no autorun.inf file on this N: partition, but there also appears to be no way to prevent this Autoplay dialog. There is no "take no action" option and no "remember this setting". Also, why is Windows offering to use ReadyBoost from a USB hard drive?!? I think that you are onto something because this behavior smells like a bug to me as well.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Scott, actually, even with a physical hard drive you get what you show. With a USB drive (FLASH or otherwise) you get a SLIGHTLY different menu.

One of my physically attached drives,

The USB drive,

Note the top check box difference? It seems since the USB drive has an icon file, it thinks it is a picture and I have an option to set something to be all the time for pictures. Note my list is larger than yours as well, as I have a few picture programs on my system.

Of course, the 'View more AutoPlay....." choice can do a GLOBAL fix, in this case, for mixed media not open Explorer, but that means drives like Flash drives I want to open like that would be disabled too...

WD support, useless. Last answer was I should learn how to edit an INI file (it is an INF) but they can't offer me support on this, I should Google it... sheesh... I corrected them and they said yes, if should be an INF, I should edit that... damn, it is a SINGLE LINE, what else can one do?

I smell a Vista bug... but I think I'll plug this one into my XP machine and make sure it works OK? Maybe it works the same way, who knows?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Hmm, my picture for my Physically attached drive didn't show, here it is :

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, I'm running Windows 7 RC over here, so if this is a Windows bug then MS has not acknowledged that it is, and has not fixed it in Win7. :-(

I can also get a Pictures or Mixed Media AutoPlay window depending on what is on a drive that I connect. That "N:" drive that I took the snapshot of has only Norton Ghost backup images on it. There are no pictures, videos, or music so Windows has decided that it's a flash drive? That makes no sense. BTW, my N: drive is on a Western Digital USB hard drive.

I have never found AutoPlay useful for me. I want to launch what I want, when I want so I have most AutoPlay options set to "Take No Action". Some of them are useful, though. If I put in a music CD, I'm probably going to listen to it and if I put in a video DVD I'm probably going to watch it. I could certainly live without AutoPlay.

However, getting back to the situation with your drive that opens an Explorer window at boot time, I don't know why that would be. Does it behave the same way if the drive is "removed" then reconnected while Windows is running? That would be an interesting experiment.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Scott, did the 'experiment'.

The REAL problem I think is this,

From Control Panel -> Autoplay (or via the "Set AutoPlay defaults in Control Panel)

I think in my case I'm getting hit by two things, the first underlined is what I suspect starts AUTORUN.INF if one is there. The second one is what is opening the Explorer since the drive has mixed content.

My Catch-22 is that I do want mixed content to open Explorer when I plug in a flash drive I use for transferring files. I wouldn't even mind it happening on the USB External drive if I were to plug it in? However, this annoying one is because the USB drive is ALWAYS attached. So it happens on booting that Explorer opens and I have to close it. I guess the boot process gets the system up enough so that it then attaches the USB drive? Odd as you would think that a READYBOOST drive would be up a lot earlier?

I just took another USB WD drive off of one of the XP systems and plugged it in, same things here on Vista, icon shows and Explorer opens.

As I said, I know this happens on XP when plugged in when the system is up, but not on BOOT? My wife's HP system has one of those HP slip-out internal bay drives, they call them Pocket Media drives, can be used in the drive bay for it or as a USB drive with cables. Never opens up Explorer, nor does other USB drives when on during boot.

I'm beginning to suspect this 'is working as designed'? Reason being ReadyBoost I suspect? It can't distinguish between a flash drive or a USB External drive it seems, they are both classified as removable. Hence the position I am in, either have Explorer open when a removable drive is found or not?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Again no Image???

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, all of your images are showing up for me. Imageshack is sometimes slow painting in images but considering how much they charge for the service, I'm willing to put up with it. :-)

I see now what is different with the setup of your external HDD. You have "open folder to view files using Windows Explorer" as the default setting for mixed content. I can try this setting and see if the behavior changes.

Also, I just thought of a workaround for my N: drive (above). I can put any old image file in the root directory causing Windows to see it as a "Picture" drive, then maybe it will act differently. The external drive with N is a floater that is not usually connected, but the Seagate FreeAgent that I mentioned in my first post in this thread is almost always connected and powered at boot time. This Seagate has the autorun.inf and .ico file in the root directory, but I do not get an Autoplay prompt at boot time.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Scott, initially, when I first put the USB drive on it had some folders and the AUTORUN.INF file in the root, nothing more. Now some system files are there, the recycle and system information folders as well as what I have on it.

These are the files NOW :

============
G:\>dir *.*
Volume in drive G is My Book
Volume Serial Number is C6AD-EF8D

Directory of G:\

07/17/2009 04:03 PM <DIR> AUTORUN
07/20/2009 02:07 PM 30 AUTORUN.INF.hold
04/15/2005 08:48 AM 6,722 WDLOGO.ICO
2 File(s) 6,752 bytes
1 Dir(s) 1,000,077,697,024 bytes free
================

The REALLY odd part is that NOW it doesn't open up Explorer? Renaming the AUTORUN.INF.hold to AUTORUN.INF and it does? So it isn't 'mixed content' opening up Explorer it seems or it would have anyway?

Here is the contents of the file,

-----------------
G:\>type autorun.inf.hold
[autorun]
ICON=WDLOGO.ICO

----------------

By the way, I got the file direct from WD at this

LINK, maybe if you get the file and un-zip to your drive it might do the same as mine?

There appears to be a BLANK line at the end of the INF file, wondering if that is causing it? I'll have to re-boot and see?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, I'll try that. However, I must stop and point out the irony in using an autorun.inf file provided by WD when you said: "WD support, useless."

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Yeah, they are, but that way using that file we'd both be testing with the same thing.

However, the blank line didn't do it.

I just re-boot and BOTH WD USB drives open up Explorer. Both I would assume do it because of the AUTORUN file. Plain and simple, physically attached drives must not be seen by the OS that controls finding AUTORUN.INF files or if they are considered Mixed Media, or anything else, when the OS brings the drive on-line.

My drive letters are goofy, and I'm too lazy to try and alter them. C: and D: are on the first physical, then E: and F: are the DVD drives, H:. I:, and J: were assigned from day 1 to the media card slots, and then I get the partition I created by shrinking C: on the first physical as K: and my second physical as L:. Now the newly attached WD USB picked up G: (missing in the sequence from before and would have been used for a FLASH DRIVE from the front panel normally) and the other USB WD became O:.

The G: opens to explorer before most of the desktop is populated, well, before the Sidebar opens at least, and the last thing that happens is N: opens to Explorer. Definitely has to do with when the drive is mounted. It sure looks like AUTORUN.INF kicks it off too. Without that file, Explorer doesn't open.

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

Irv, I was finally able to try this experiment during a scheduled maintenance window (*cough*reboot*cough*). I put the autorun.inf files from WD on my WD drive N:, and my Seagate already has one. I set my AutoPlay settings to "Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer" for Pictures, Music, Videos, Mixed Media, and Software. After several reboots into Vista (SP2) and Windows 7 RC, I did not get any Explorer windows opening. I also attached two USB flash drives, one with just videos and the other with mixed content and they didn't open Explorer at Windows boot time either.

So far I am unable to reproduce the problem that you are seeing.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Thanks for trying Scott. WD tells me no one else has reported this either?

I have to have something weird going on? I now have 2 external's connected, a 1TB and 500GB USB 2.0 WD drive. They both will do the same thing some times and other times not on re-boot?

If I have AUTORUN.INF in the root, both will load the icon and open Explorer (I have mixed set to open Explorer). If I re-name AUTORUN.INF, *ONLY* the 500GB drive will open Explorer?

One point to note about this, the 1TB drive is basically empty (see DIR above), no other files in the root but the icon file and the AUTORUN. Only system folders and one other folder that is empty in the root. The 500GB is highly populated with many files and folders in the root.

If I turn off the mixed open explorer it will stop Explorer from coming up. At this point, I basically have given up. I want Explorer to open when I insert a flash drive, not the externals. So I can't have both operating how I'd like it.

One thing I've not tried is setting the registry default of x'91' for NoDriveTypeAutoRun. I do NOT have this entry in either of these sub-keys :

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Explorer\

Putting it in couldn't hurt and ensures I have the right default. If I get motivated, I might just do that.

Thanks for trying but I'm putting this one on the back burner for now.

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Scott, this part you wrote, "I also attached two USB flash drives, one with just videos and the other with mixed content and they didn't open Explorer at Windows boot time either." seems very odd to me? Shouldn't Explorer had to have opened under the conditions you set?

If you were fully booted and then inserted the flash drives, did Explorer open then?

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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ispalten
ispalten
Posts: 6259

Scott, I am TOTALLY confused now...

Long story, but from DAY 1 this Vista system (almost 3 months old now) has been giving me fits over minor issues... You've seen some I've posted here and I can't tell you the number of hours I've been on the phone with Dell, Canon, Symantec, and some others I've probably forgotten about.

The problem in this thread is typical of what I've been going through, and in many cases, it seemed to be my system alone.

This morning I decided to 'attack' the Event Viewer again and clean out some of the errors and warnings. There were 2 bothering me for a long time but didn't seem to have any side effects I could find.

One was the NETBT error telling me

============
The name "Laraine-HP :0" could not be registered on the Interface with
IP address 192.168.1.103. The machine with the IP address 192.168.1.101 did
not allow the name to be claimed by this machine.
=============

My machine is the 192.168.1.103 and my wife's is 192.168.1.101. I know this is some sort of DNS or WINS problem, and I can't seem to fix it. I'll work on this later too, all it seems to do is post errors into the Event Viewer...

Now the 2 other ones that have been PLAGUING me to no end.

Canon is involved with BOTH of these oddly enough.

1) My Canon Camera's programs for JPG's, ZoomBrowser.
2) My Canon All-In-One printer causing a dialog box to appear from Symantec's Ghost 12's tray icon.

The ZoomBrowser just ended with an error and calls to Canon with multiple install and removals, updates, cleaning the Registry, etc. didn't help. Phone support told me that some SMALL percentage of Vista users, mostly 64 bit it just will NOT work on and they don't know why?

The printer caused a pop-up telling me that it had a problem with a drive from Ghost. If I put an SD card in the embedded card slot I didn't have the problem.

Well, I solved these this morning. I never would have guessed I could have?

In the Event Viewer I had this error continually on boot and randomly after when the system was up,

--------------------
Event filter with query "SELECT * FROM __InstanceModificationEvent WITHIN 60 WHERE TargetInstance ISA "Win32_Processor" AND TargetInstance.LoadPercentage > 99" could not be reactivated in namespace "//./root/CIMV2" because of error 0x80041003. Events cannot be delivered through this filter until the problem is corrected.
--------------------

Searching the web, some references thought it was a virus, others claimed 32 bit drivers did it, and most alarming, many said they got BSOD's after these. Me, I didn't even know these were happening until I looked at the Event Viewer?

I found this link to an MS KB article. I created the VBS file and ran it as Administrator. It sort of told me it was removing 3 items. OK...

Well, I then went on to tackle the Ghost dialog box. I went to Symantec's support forum and was in the process of sending a post and wanted to get the error to capture it and put it into the post. Turned on the printer, no dialog box pop-up? Uh, maybe I left the SD card in? Opened the door, nope? Maybe I missed the pop-up, tried again... nope... Could the WMI stuff be involved?

Hmm, let me try ZoomBrowser... it RUNS!!!! What is going on?

Now I have not had a chance to re-boot, authoring a DVD and it will take some time. I'll not consider this all 'fixed' until I do. I intend to test the AUTORUN as well when I do.

All very odd, I don't know how Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) even fits into all this or even if it broke or fixed something else. It seems to also involve Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and that set an alarm off in my head as I hit error from MOM when I replaced the ATI Catalyst drivers... it wasn't easy replacing the drivers either, but I think I was able to as I don't get the errors anymore and CCC does run.

Sorry to hi-jack this thread, but I wanted to let you know what I discovered, and also what I don't understand? No matter what, the state of my Vista system, although stable, is suspect in my mind.

Irv S.

Posted 5 years ago
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