Q: I have several programs set to launch via the RunOnce registry keys, but they're not starting when a user logs in. Why not?

A: There are several registry keys that allow an application to launch once, normally for some kind of initial setup process:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnceEx
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Runonce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunonceEx

These keys are frequently used by malware. To increase security, commands set to execute in these keys don't run when a normal user logs on—only when an administrator logs on, per this Microsoft Article. If you want a process to run for a normal user, consider using a scheduled task.

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