Occasionally, it's useful to perform tasks on a computer at boot, such as executing a program or script or establishing network connections. One method of performing tasks at boot is to use a startup script defined in group policy. If you have the Windows 2000 Resource Kit on hand, however, you have another option for performing startup tasks.

The AutoExNT service (autoexnt.exe) lets you run the batch file Autoexnt.bat at startup without having to log on to the computer first. To install AutoExNT, copy the files Autoexnt.exe and Servmess.dll from the Windows 2000 Resource Kit to the %systemroot%\System32 folder. Create the file Autoexnt.bat in the same folder and include in it a set of test commands. To install the service, open a command console and type the following command:

instexnt install

To test AutoExNT, open a command console and type the following command:

net start autoexnt

If AutoExNT is installed and configured properly, you'll see Autoexnt.bat execute in a console window. You can then modify Autoexnt.bat as required for your startup tasks.

To make the AutoExNT service start automatically, open the Services console and set its startup mode to Automatic. Set the Logon As property for the service as needed to give AutoExNT the permissions needed for it to perform the tasks defined in Autoexnt.bat.