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I have a windows 7 machine that I primarily use as a media server (NAS). For this reason, I don't want to require a password when the machine boots up. So, I've disabled the password for the primary account, and the computer boots up without a hitch. However, for security reasons, I've disabled Remote Desktop and have been using LogMeIn to access the computer remotely. LogMeIn has it's shortcomings, and I'd really rather remote into the machine directly using remote desktop connection (MSTSC).

Is there a way that I can require a password when establishing a remote desktop connection, but still allow the computer to boot up without providing one?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You have to set a password for the user.
Once done, just configure Windows to automatically logon on console (so localy).
To do that, you can edit the registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
DefaultUserName = user_name
AutoAdminLogon = 1
DefaultPassword = xxxxx

You can also have a look here: Is it possible to automatically login in Windows XP?

This works only on the console (local keyboard and screen). So remote desktop will ask for a password.

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Does this mean your password is now stored in plaintext in the registry? Hmm. – evilspoons Jan 9 '14 at 21:06

You can also run "control userpasswords2" on the client machine. Then uncheck "User must enter a user name and password to use this computer". If a user password is set, it will still be required for Remote Desktop login.

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