XP IE file download security

Posted on 2005-03-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-11
Since getting a new laptop I just don't seem to be able to get IE to accept downloads in the way I want.

With the security settings for the Internet Zone in Internet Options set to 'Medium', when I click on an EXE file, I'm not asked to confirm the download or select the download location. The computer simple downloads the file and executes it automatically. When I set it to High however, I'm not even allowed to download most files.

All I want is to simply be able to click on any EXE file, and get a dialog allowing me to select where I want to save my file. The same applies for movies, music files, whatever. No "are you sure you want to download this file" messsages, no automatic download and execution.

I've tried tweaking various settings but just don't seem to be able to get it right. What do I need to change?
Question by:gazemery
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Rich Rumble
ID: 13517491
Is this laptop part of an Active Directory domain? It may be getting settings from the AD that over-ride what your doing.
Under Tools>internet options> security> custom level
there is a "downloads" field, and directly under that it has"automatic prompting for file downloads" enable/disable check the Enable.

Author Comment

ID: 13517933
AFAIK it's not part of an Active Directory domain, it just runs on a small home network.

I have tried switching the "automatic prompting for file downloads" and it makes no difference either way.

It seems the problem is only with EXE files, with other sorts of files - like MP3, it offers the option of opening or saving them. Yet with EXE, it's running them straight away. I'm guessing I need to look elsewhere for this?
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Rich Rumble
Rich Rumble earned 75 total points
ID: 13518127
Is this a XP service pack 2 machine?
On mine, I get prompted for exe, here are the setings of my medium level: (these are the setting that should matter)
     Auto prompt for file dl
    File DL

     Open Files based on content, not file ext
     Software channel permissions
          Medium safety
     Use pop-up blocker

xp sp2 btw... if i click on any of the exe's on this page I'm prompted: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

Four New Appliances. Same Industry-leading Speeds.

But don't take it from us.  The Firebox M370 is Miercom tested and Miercom approved, outperforming its competitors for stateless and stateful traffic throughput scenarios.  Learn more about the M370, M470, M570 and M670 and find the right solution for your organization today!


Expert Comment

ID: 13521312
Is the machine using Windos XP SP2? You would want to install this if it isn't alredy installed. If it isn't yet, then before you do read the rest of my advice.

You might want to check that there are no nasties installed on your computer that have taken over the browser responses. If you have looked elsewhere then maybe something is deliberately leaving your machine wide open, so that it can secretly download other programs like key-loggers, backdoors etc.

You should fully scan your machine using a couple of different online virus scanners (even if your own anti-virus says it is ok, in case it has been corrupted) and spyware scanners like adaware & spybot. This way you can check that you don't have anything installed of a malicious nature.

You might find that this sorts your problem. Once you are sure you are all clear, then you can install XP SP2. This will improve your security of IE and the machine as a whole. It is imnportant to clear nasties off first as they can cause SP2 to crash your machine after install if not sorted first.

Let us know if you have SP2 yet or not. Right click on the "My Computer" icon and click "Properties" on the menu that appears. At the top of the General Tab it should say:
Microsoft Windows XP
Home or Professional ?
Version ?
Sevice Pack ?

Let us know Home or Professional, Version year, and Service pack number.

Hope this helps


Author Comment

ID: 13521626
Ok.... update. Now I can click EXE files and I do get a Save or Open dialog, but for certain downloads (usually ones initiated by clicking a button rather than a link) the downloads are still automatically executing. The product trial section on www.macromedia.com is an example of this.

I'm using Windows XP Pro 2002 with SP2. I'm pretty sure the machine is spyware free, it's only three days old, and has been Adawared and Spybotted, plus when I got it I gave the CurrentVersion/Run section a once over to check nothing I didn't want running was slyly loading.

Author Comment

ID: 13521965
OK, I'm donning my dunces hat here :o it was actually zip files that were self-executing, not EXE files. Changed the action associated with zip files to Save rather than Open in file types and it has fixed it. Thanks for the help.

Accepted Solution

XPComputers earned 75 total points
ID: 13521966
I just tried Contribute 3 from Macromedia trial site. It prompts me for open or save, but then it is a .zip file not and .exe

Which application is an .exe and I will try it here.

Otherwise maybe you have .zips automatically opening, which might autorun the .exe inside them, but you never get to see the .zip as it has run already. (That would explain why you see a prompt for some .exe (ones that aren't zipped))

Anyway, happy to try to download any app here that you have problems with. I also have XP Pro 2002 SP2.


Expert Comment

ID: 13521975
Doh. Cross post.

Glad you fixed it


Author Comment

ID: 13522624
thanks for the help guys :-)

Featured Post

Simplifying Server Workload Migrations

This use case outlines the migration challenges that organizations face and how the Acronis AnyData Engine supports physical-to-physical (P2P), physical-to-virtual (P2V), virtual to physical (V2P), and cross-virtual (V2V) migration scenarios to address these challenges.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

There is a lot to be said for protecting yourself and your accounts with 2 factor authentication.  I found to my own chagrin, that there is a big downside as well.
This article is written by John Gates, CISSP. Gates, the SNUG President-Elect, currently holds the position of Manager of Information Systems at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Illinois.
This video Micro Tutorial shows how to password-protect PDF files with free software. Many software products can do this, such as Adobe Acrobat (but not Adobe Reader), Nuance PaperPort, and Nuance Power PDF, but they are not free products. This vide…
Sometimes it takes a new vantage point, apart from our everyday security practices, to truly see our Active Directory (AD) vulnerabilities. We get used to implementing the same techniques and checking the same areas for a breach. This pattern can re…
Suggested Courses

801 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question