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Types of User Accounts: Administrator or Power User?

by bgreene1 / October 20, 2006 12:24 AM PDT

I just bought a new PC and am using multiple user accounts for the first time. During the setup process, I was prompted to set up accounts, and I set up one in my name, and another in my wife's name.

When I go into "Computer Management", the following accounts are listed:

1. Administrator (says member of "Administrators")
2. My Account (says member of "Administrators")
3. My Wife's Account (says member of "Administrators")
4. Guest (says "disabled" and member of "Guests")

Someone told me I should change my account and my wife's account from Administrator-type accounts to Power User-type accounts, becuase it is dangerous to surf the Net when logged in as an administrator. Is this true?

Also, when I reboot my computer, I am presented with only two choices: my account and my wife's account. The Administrator account is not shown. If I wanted to log in as the Administrator, how would I do that?

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Why not create a limited account
by glb613 / October 20, 2006 2:53 AM PDT

to use the internet? I've read posts from people who changed their account from Administrator to limited and couldn't access their data. So be very careful about making changes. And as always, have everything saved or a recent backup before proceeding.

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Good idea
by jackson dougless / October 20, 2006 3:53 AM PDT

Though I would recommend the limited account, which is far easier to set up in XP. This limits the ability for things such as viruses and other undesirables to spread on your system, because they will only have access to things that limited account has access to, which is nothing critical.

It's not a fool proof system, as there are often security exploits that can be used to elevate a program's access abilities, especially with Windows, but even if it only stops a few things, I'd say it's worth it given the minimal amount of effort it takes to set up.

You should do the same for yourself. Only use the Administrator account when you need to install a program or something such as that. This will give you an additional layer of protection against things such as viruses.

To aid against malware, which can often function just fine without the need of administrative access, you should avoid using Internet Explorer. IE6 to be sure is easy pickings for malware distributors, and IE7 will likely be only marginally better on that front, though it's still far too early to say for sure. I'd strongly recommend using an alternative browser such as Opera or Firefox. Just one more layer of protection for a very minimal, and temporary, disruption.

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