Logon Options - In Depth

Applies To: AutoMate 6, AutoMate 5
Published: 9/27/07

AutoMate's Logon options contain the settings that are used to run a managed task in diverse situations. It can specify how the task should run depending on the current state of the machine, whether it is logged on, logged off or locked.

You can set the parameters to logon a specified user if the workstation is logged off or unlock the workstation if it is currently locked before performing actions of the task. You can even set the parameters to run the task in the background, no matter what state the workstation is on.

Additionally, the Logon options can specify under which user context a task should impersonate when it is executed automatically (triggered). It will allow you to select a specific user to run the task under, even though a machine may already be logged on under another user. The Logon settings of each managed task is located in the 'Managed Task Properties' window under the 'Logon' tab. This article will provide comprehensive information in regards to the Logon feature as well as explain the many parameters it encompasses.

Parameters
A triggered task can run within three different system states, when the workstation is logged on, logged off or when it's locked. Before a task starts executing, AutoMate first determines which state the workstation is currently on and acts accordingly, depending on the Logon parameters. There are three parameters that can be selected within each of the system states. They are as follows (with the default parameter specified as "Default"):

When workstation is logged on
Logged on user
The task is run as the currently logged on user. (Default)
Background User
The task will run in the background in the context of the Specified User and act as if the task had been started by that user.
Specified user
The task will run in the context of the specified user and act as if the task had been started by that user.

When workstation is logged off
Don't Run
The task does not run when the workstation is logged off. (Default)
Run as background user
The task will run behind the logon screen in the context of the Specified User. The workstation will remain in a logged off state when the task runs.
Logon specified user
AutoMate will press Ctrl-Alt-Del to call upon the Windows Logon screen, then attempts to simulate the keystrokes a user would perform to appropriately logon to the desktop. When the desktop appears, the steps begin to execute.

When a workstation is locked
Don't run
The task does not run if the workstation is locked.
Run as background user
The task will run behind the locked workstation screen in the context of the user account that last logged on. (Default)
Unlock using specified user
AutoMate will press Ctrl-Alt-Del to call upon the Windows Logon screen then simulate a user entering the appropriate keys to that screen to unlock the workstation. When the workstation unlocks back to the desktop, the steps of the task begins.
User Impersonation
The Logon settings provide the option to specify under which user context a task should impersonate when it is triggered. By default, a task will run under the context of the currently logged on user ("When workstation is logged on" -> "Logged On User"). In this case, if a task were to start a particular application, the registry, external application preferences and other settings will map to the currently logged on user. By specifying an alternate user ("When workstation is logged on" -> "Specified User"), AutoMate will map all user specific settings to the specified user instead. This is ideal when a triggered task needs to run under another user if the currently logged on user does not have the proper permissions to run the task.

Interactive Tasks
The Windows security architecture prevents "interactive" events from being sent to applications while a machine is logged off or locked. In other words, if a task includes interactive actions (i.e. Move Mouse, Send Keystrokes, Click Mouse actions) or needs to interact with the desktop in any way, it cannot be set to run in the background. Instead, the task needs to automatically logon to the desktop if the workstation is logged off ("When workstation is logged off" -> "Logon specified user") or needs to unlock the workstation if it is locked ("When a workstation is locked" -> "Unlock using specified user").

Important Note: To prevent any possible inference with an interactive task while it is running, it is recommended that the 'Priority' settings of these tasks are set to "Run Alone." Additionally, it is advisable that no human interaction occurs on the workstation while an interactive task is running as well.

Background Tasks
Tasks that include FTP actions, file-related actions (i.e. Copy Files, Move Files, Create Folder actions) and other background processes are allowed to be performed in the background without needing to logon to the desktop ("When workstation is logged off" -> "Run as background user") or unlocking the workstation ("When workstation is locked" -> "Run as background user"). You have the option to run a task in the background while a user is currently logged on as well ("When workstation is logged on" -> "Background User"). This is ideal when wanting to prevent any possible inference with the task while it is running. This will also allow for numerous background tasks to run simultaneously.

Important Note: A task can run in the background only if it does not include interactivity actions or simulate user interaction. If unsure it is advisable to test the task both ways.

Setting the Specified User
When you choose to logon or unlock the workstation using a specified user, you must define exactly what user AutoMate is to use. To do this, click the "Specified User" button. In the dialog that appears, select:

Use default user account
This will use the account specified in 'System' -> 'Options' -> 'Default User' tab. This option makes your tasks more portable because each AutoMate system can set its "default AutoMate user" to an account appropriate for their configuration.

Use specified user account
This will provide the option to enter a specific user account for this task. Note: This account will always override the 'Default User' option.

IMPORTANT: The following options are only supported on Windows NT/2000/2003/XP operating systems. They are not supported on Vista operating systems.