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Windows XP: Turn Off Auto Play For External USB Hard Drive

By default when you plug in a external hard drive via USB to a Windows XP computer auto play will automatically launch. This can be beneficial if you rarely plug in USB hard drives and when you do you like to decide what action to take such as copying pictures from the drive to the local computer or printing documents from the drive to a network printer. In most scenarios  though you will probably be moving files to and from the external hard drive to your computer and the auto play pop up is annoying. It is even more annoying if you almost always have the external hard drive attached so every single time you reboot your Windows XP computer you have to deal with one more annoying pop up. Below is information on how to disable the automatic auto play pop up per USB hard drive.

External USB Hard Drive Auto Play Pop Up:

Below are two windows you will see by default when plugging in a external USB hard drive. The first image below is Windows actually scanning to see the contents of the drive.

Windows XP: External USB Hard Drive Auto Play Scan

The second image shown below is the list of actions that can be taken on the hard drive that was just plugged into USB.

External USB Hard Drive Auto Play Pop Up

To completely disable the auto play pop up for the external USB hard drive follow the directions below. You will be required to do this for each external USB hard drive you plug in to the Windows XP computer.

Disable Auto Play Pop Up For External USB Hard Drive:

  1. Open My Computer: Click on Start and select My Computer from the pop up to launch My Computer in Windows Explorer as shown in the below image.

    My Computer Showing External USB Hard Drive

  2. USB Hard Drive Properties: Right click the USB Hard Drive, which is letter F: in this example, and select properties from the pop up menu. This will display the Properties window for the External USB Hard Drive as shown in the below image.

    External USB Hard Drive Properties

  3. Modify Auto Play: Now select the Auto Play tab in the Properties window, select the radio button next to “Select An Action To Perform”, and then highlight “Take No Action” in the list of actions as shown in the below image. Make sure to do this for each type of file that can be selected in the drop down menu including Music Files, Pictures, Video Files, and Mixed Content. This will ensure that the Auto Play pop up does not ever occur with this drive. After configuring each item make sure to click the Apply button so the settings are saved.

    Disable Auto Play For USB Hard Drive

  4. Verify Auto Play Disabled: Now simply unplug the hard drive from the USB port on your computer and plug it back in to verify that the Auto Play window does not appear.

Now you have one less annoying automatic pop up window on your Windows XP computer. One less item using needless resources that you can use elsewhere.

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