Make Windows 95 Automatic Logon More Secure

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Are you annoyed by all of the 'extra' password requests when starting Windows 95? First, you're asked for your Windows password, then your Network password. For networks where security isn't a major issue, it would be nice to streamline the process. TweakUI, one of the Power Toys available for Windows 95 has a popular option that allows an automatic logon to Windows 95. The problem is that your password displays in clear text inside the registry. We've found a way to logon automatically to the network without revealing passwords.

Of course, anytime you allow for an automatic logon, you are creating a serious security breach. After all, anyone would be able to walk up to your computer, turn it on, and then do whatever they wanted as if they were you! However, when you consider most computers are turned on in the morning and left logged on all day with rarely so much as a screensaver password for protection; logging on automatically is probably not much worse.

If you've used TweakUI's automatic logon, then your password is visible in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Winlogon. Maybe it's just a little too relaxed of a security policy for you. Our method is one technique to close the breach.

If your major concern is ease of use, then you may want to use the following process to have the end-user logon automatically when the computer starts:

  1. Logon to Windows 95 with your main user name.

  2. Verify that all of your drives map correctly and printers are set up the way you want them. Be sure Reconnect at logon is checked.

  3. Restart Windows 95 and double-check that everything connected correctly.

  4. Open the password dialog box. [Start]–Settings–Control Panel. Double-click Passwords–Change Windows Password.

  5. Clear the checkbox for each of the other network passwords. Click OK.

  6. Type your Old password, but leave New password and Confirm new password blank. Click OK. Click OK. again. Click Close.

  7. Open Network Properties. [Alt]–Double-click Network Neighborhood. Select Configuration. Change Primary Network Logon to Windows Logon.

  8. Restart Windows 95 when prompted. If asked for a password for reconnecting devices, enter it. Make sure that Remember Password is checked, if present.

The next time you logon to Windows 95 it should not require a password. For some network logons, like NetWare's Client32, you may still have to enter a password for access to the network, depending on administrative requirements. However, you will have reduced your password entries to one or none.

In fact, if all you are concerned about is network access remaining secure, even if your local files are vulnerable, you may prefer this arrangement.

Additionally, you won't be able to use User Profiles with automatic logon, because you are bypassing the logon process and can't be individually identified.

Should you change your mind about having an automatic logon you can always reverse the process, by going back and changing your default logon to your Network Logon. You would also need to add a Windows Password by going into Control Panel and opening the Passwords applet.