Monday, March 7, 2011

Explained: Types of User Accounts in Windows

User Account Control (UAC) is something that makes Windows so secure and easy to use. You can create separate accounts for all the people who use the same computer. Each person has their own personal folders, settings, personalization and a lot more. Every user can have their own saved games, browser preferences only for themselves, without affecting others. 

But when you try to create a new user account, you will be presented with two options: Standard and Administrator. And there's also the Guest Account that can be turned on and off. What is all that? This article explains it all.
An administrator of a Windows PC is usually the owner of the computer. An administrator has virtually all the rights to do anything on their computer. An administrator may:
  • Install and remove programs for all users
  • Install new hardware
  • Make changes for all users
  • Access other users' data
  • Set Parental Controls (Windows Vista and 7) for Standard Users
Basically, an Administrator can do almost anything on a computer. They can make changes that will affect all users on the computer. When Windows is first installed, or a new computer is set up, you are required to create an Administrator account. A Windows based PC is required to have at least one Administrator user at all times.

Standard User
Credit: bredgur/Flickr
A Standard account is one with limited privileges. It is made for someone who uses the computer regularly, but does not own it. You may want to have a Standard account if you have young children using the computer regularly, unattended. You can then set up Parental Controls (if you're running Windows Vista or above) and block websites, games, set usage time restrictions and more.

A Standard User cannot install or remove programs without permissions. They cannot access all files and folders on the computer. In short, they cannot make changes that will affect users apart from them.
Microsoft recommends that you use a Standard account for every person, and keep a separate Administrator account for security reasons.

Guest User
A Guest Account is an extremely limited account. You have to turn it on from the User Account settings before you can use it.

The Guest Account is for someone who does not have a permanent account on the computer. If you have someone using your computer temporarily, you can have them use this account. A Guest user cannot:
  • Change the picture
  • Create a password
  • Change settings
  • Install or remove programs and hardware
  • Access the Public Folder
  • Access other users' files and folders