How to completely disable DEP in Windows Server 2003

To completely disable DEP in Windows Server 2003, perform the following with administrative credentials:

1. Open Windows Explorer

2. Tools > Folder Options > View

3. Uncheck Hide Protected operating system files (Recommended) and Hide extensions for known file types

4. Click apply > OK

5. Browse to C:\

6. Right click on boot.ini, select properties and ensure the “read-only” tab is unchecked and click OK

7. Edit boot.ini

8. Modify the  /noexecute=

For example, set  /noexecute=AlwaysOff to disasble DEP entirely

9. File > Save, close boot.ini file

10. Right click on boot.ini, select properties and ensure the “read-only” tab is checked and click OK

11. Reboot the computer

For more about DEP see MS KB875352

8 Responses to “How to completely disable DEP in Windows Server 2003”

  1. Bob Jonkman Says:

    Hi Julie: I’m curious why you’re disabling DEP completely. Is this just a temporary measure to bypass a flaw in one particular piece of software?

    DEP is meant to prevent data in memory from running as executable code, as might happen with a buffer overflow exploit. Disabling DEP is similar to turning off your anti-virus just so you can download those .EXEs off the Intertubes… You might want to do that only if it’s absolutely necessary, and for as short a time as possible.


  2. Julie Says:


    I have to disable DEP in order to get some legacy applications to function here in my work environment. Many of these apps were developed in house years ago by developers, who, to put it nicely, coded like crap, without regard for standards or best practices.

    I understood the pressure was put on them to get the software into production, and fix it later. My bachelor’s degree is in computer science, and I haven’t written anything more complex than a Powershell script since I graduated college, yet I still shudder when I try to make sense of some of the code I’ve seen.

    To surmize, many of the applications are huge cluster@$%*s that absolutely will not work with DEP enabled. And that’s sad.


  3. Bob Jonkman Says:

    I’m very sorry to hear that. I’m guessing these are not 32-bit apps, so you can’t disable DEP just for those individual apps…

    It seems that when an application outlives the hardware it was designed to run on, then it will live forever.


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  5. Dave Says:

    Will this work with XP Pro SP3?

  6. Dave Says:

    Never mind, I found where to do it in XP 🙂

  7. Ryan H. junior_s85 Says:

    i have disable DEP, very good – no more crash when Windows Explorer try generate folder of Images or Videos thumbnail.

    but acknowledge this.. somehow Windows Explorer will not response that good in refreshing. After renaming the file or folder, mostly happen on the folder-tree mode (left side of Windows Explorer)

  8. mogwia Says:

    thank you.
    this is just what i needed. as for reasons to disable dep altogether. it’s annoying and i’d rather have 20000 viruses hammering away than a single pop up informing me i am not allowed to run some app. Windows is just a nail begging to be hammered.

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