Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Auto-play can be a convenient feature but if it's not what you want, it can be difficult to turn off and keep off. The TweakUI utility can fix that.
How do I *really* disable auto-play in Windows XP?
The auto-play feature in Windows was significantly beefed up when Windows XP was introduced. For CD and DVD drives specifically, Windows will first attempt to determine what type of media you've inserted and then perform an appropriate action. If it doesn't know what action is appropriate, it asks along with providing the option to remember that action for next time.
Seems fair enough, except that when I encountered it for the first time it kept forgetting the settings and would always ask. From my perspective that's worse that not having auto-play at all. And then I couldn't turn it off.
If that sounds familiar, then you know my frustration.
Enter one of my favorite Windows add-ons: TweakUI, one of what Microsoft calls "Power Toys for Windows XP". It's more than a toy. It allows you to adjust (or 'tweak') several settings that aren't exposed directly by the standard Windows tools.
Once you've installed TweakUI you'll find a lot of options in it. For our current problem, in TweakUI expand My Computer, and then AutoPlay. Click on Drives and uncheck the drive letter that you no longer want to auto-play. Click on Apply and that's it. No more "what would you like me to do" dialogs.
TweakUI has a number of other settings, I encourage you to install it and browse around in it. It's something I install on every computer I run. (The PowerToys page has a number of nifty tools as well. Have a look while you're there).