Help Me Understand User Accounts


J

JD

My wife and I have been using the default Administrator account, without a
password, for years. I've been advised to create a "user account," and only
log on as administrator to do weekly maintenance chores.
If I were to create a user account and call it "Family," would it have a
blank desktop? Would we be able to download music files? Access all of our
existing files?
Use Outlook Express to send and recieve e-mail? Access the Internet--and
save Favorites?
I'm unsure of how to proceed. Place a password on the Administrator account?
Ditto on any new user accounts created?
What about the default Guest account? My stepson visits several times a year
and uses the computer for many hours. If he were to use the Guest account,
would he be able to recieve and send documents as e-mail attachements. Save
documents to the hard drive? Access the Internet?
My wife sometimes lets her students use the computer. How would I go about
"restricting" access to Internet sites for them, but not for us?
 
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J

JD

Here's what I read in a recent letter from MS:
"Limited User accounts can protect your Windows XP computer when you browse
the Web. If you work in a Limited User account, you might be able to
decrease the effect of a virus or other malicious software. But if the
attack happens while you're in an Administrator account, the attacker can
gain full access to your computer and the results can range from annoying to
catastrophic. Administrator accounts are the default type of account for
Windows XP.
A Limited User account lets you use most of the capabilities of the
computer, but only an Administrator can make changes that affect other users
of the computer. For example, in a Limited User account, you can use:
.. Web browsers and e-mail programs
.. Productivity programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and
Microsoft PowerPoint
.. Entertainment programs that let you play music and video, edit
photographs, and much more
Note: You can also create a Guest account, which has most of the functions
of a Limited User account but it is not password-protected, so a guest user
can quickly log on and off again to perform simple tasks, such as checking
e-mail or browsing the Internet."

I wrote earlier that we were using the Administrator account. I stand
corrected. We are using the default "Owner" account. But it has
administrator rights.
I take it that I should create a "limited user" account for everyday
purposes. Then switch to the existing "Owner" account to perform periodic
tune-up functions--virus scans, disk cleanup, defrag, etc. Is that correct?
How do I create such an account? Can I decide what functions I wish to allow
to this account? Is the Guest account a "limited user" account?
 
G

geek-y-guy

Hi JD: Go into control panels, select user accounts, create a new "limited"
user account without a password, log off and log back in with that
account...you will still have access to any applications that you may have
installed, as long as they were installed in such a way that all users could
access them (which is usually the default).

Anything you downloaded as the "owner" user, or icons that were on the
desktop, will likely no longer be accessible, unless you downloaded to a
directory outside of "my documents". Any documents you created that were in
"My Documents" will not be accessible either. Any "favorites" you saved in
internet explorer will also not be accessible.

To gain access to the "My Documents" files, log back in as the owner, and
either copy or move the documents and files you want to have access to
someplace outside of "my documents"...like "c:\common" or some folder like
that. When you log off and log back in as the limited user you'll be able to
access them from there.

Each user account's preferences and settings are stored in a hidden folder,
which you can access in Windows Explorer by changing the "folder options -->
view" to "show hidden files and folders". Once you have exposed the hidden
folders, you can navigate to "documents and settings --> [user name] -->
favorites" and copy/paste the favorites into the same location for the
limited user, and all your internet explorer favorites will be saved as
well.

If you're using Outlook Express for email, and want access to all your
existing email, you'll need to set up a new email account (under the new
limited user account) the same as you had before, and then (shut down
Outlook Express first!) copy/paste everything from "documents and
settings --> [user name] --> local settings --> Identities --> [long
alphanumeric string] --> microsoft --> Outlook Express" to the same place
under the new user account.

HTH

--
 
N

Nepatsfan

JD,

First off, let's keep one thing in mind. While using a limited account has its
advantages, it's no guarantee that your computer won't be compromised by some
type of malware. The most important part of computer security is the actions of
the person seated in front of the screen. Another thing to keep in mind is that
some programs will only run under an administrative account.

As for how to set up your system so that you're using a limited account, the
advice you've been given is approaching this issue from the wrong direction.
Here's an easier solution; create a new administrator account and demote the
Owner account.

Go to Control Panel and double click User Accounts.
Under Pick a Task, click on Create a new account.
Name this account whatever you want. Admin would be my choice.
Click Next and leave the default setting of Computer Administrator selected.
Hit Create Account.
Back at the first User Accounts screen, click on the icon for the new account.
Click on Create a password and follow the instructions on the next page to
password protect this account.
Note: Try to use a password and hint that's easy to remember but hard to guess.
Since you won't be using this account often, it's important that you don't
forget the password.
Close User Accounts and log off from the Owner account.
Log on with the Admin account.
Once you're logged on as Admin, go to Control Panel and double click User
Accounts.
Click on the icon for the Owner account.
If you don't have one already, click on Create a password and follow the
instructions to password protect this account.
Back at the Owner account screen, click on Change the account type.
Select Limited and hit the Change account type button.
Close User Accounts and log off from the Admin account.
Log back on to the Owner account.

Test to see if you can still run all of your programs. You should still have
access to all your files and email messages. If you find that there are issues
that make running with a limited account difficult, log on with the Admin
account and elevate your Owner account to Computer Administrator using the same
procedure outlined above.

Now, let's move on to other issues. First, every XP system has a built-in
account named Administrator. This account is usually hidden. Hidden or not, it
should have a password. There are a number of ways to do this. Here's one;

Log on with the Admin account.
Go to Start -> Run and enter the following in the Open box.

control userpasswords2

This should open the alternate User Accounts applet.
There should be a check mark in the box next to "Users must enter a user name
and password to use this computer".
In the Users for this computer box, click on Administrator.
In the Password for Administrator, click on the Reset Password button.
Once again, enter a password that's easy to remember but hard to guess.
Close User Accounts.

You should log on at least once to the Administrator account to test the
password. How you log on to the Administrator account depends on what version of
XP you have installed on your computer.

For XP Home Edition

To logon with the built-in Administrator account in XP Home Edition you have to
restart the computer and boot into Safe Mode.
To start in Safe Mode, reboot your computer and start tapping the F8 key as soon
as you see anything displayed
on the screen.
Keep hitting F8 until the Advanced Startup Options menu appears.
Use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to select Safe Mode.
Hit Enter.
Click on the Administrator icon.
Enter the password you just created.

For XP Professional

Log off from the computer.
If the Welcome screen is displayed, hit the Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination
twice.
This should bring up the Log on to Windows dialog.
Enter Administrator in the User Name box.

As for your stepson and your wife's students, I'd pass on using the Guest
account. Instead I'd create a limited user account for your stepson and another
one for the students. As for restricting what they can do on the computer, you
might want to investigate this program from Microsoft.

Windows SteadyState
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx

Keep in mind that this program should be installed before you create accounts
for your stepson and the students.

Good luck

Nepatsfan
 
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J

JD

Many thanks to both respondents. I will study this advice carefully. It's a
lot to absorb and I'll be sure I understand what I'm doing before
proceeding.
 

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