Jim's Computer


Understanding User Accounts

Generally speaking, after pushing the power button on your computer 1 of 4 scenarios await you:

  1. You see the familiar Windows desktop (no user accounts).

  2. You see a login screen (this means you have user accounts).

  3. You see text (you did not shut down properly or you have somewhat of a problem).

  4. You see nothing (you possibly have a real honking problem).

For every bodies sanity, let's concentrate on 1 and 2.

  1. If you start (or boot) your computer and wind up on your desktop screen with all your little programs starting, your IM apps and whatnot, it's fast and convenient and not safe. The reason its not safe is it's a administrative account. This might be better named a maintenance account(and that's what we name them). Think of this in this way: when a maintenance crew has access to a building it can go anywhere and do anything, all the locks are open. There are no restrictions on you and you can install software and make important changes to your system, but, so can anybody else. You are completely unprotected!

  2. Just because you have user accounts doesn't mean it's all good and Windows has your back(actually, when you think about it, windows was aptly named! Windows: thin, fragile and easily broken. Also, it's transparent and provides no cover! "Windows, where I want to do my banking and other private things, in front of "Windows". Right! Damn, I'm on a roll and have to stop. "Windows: Do not break glass in case of emergency, just buy more Windows". Anyway, if you have user accounts there should only be one administrative level account, password protected, and the others should be "limited". Under normal circumstances, all daily computing activity should be done under a limited account, period! Now, the term "limited" sounds, well, limited. So, we prefer the terms "Maintenance(administrative)" and "General(limited)". Maintenance sounds mundane and general sounds macho, right?

Making changes:

To make changes to accounts you must be logged in as an administrator(maintenance). Here, you, as the administrator, can make changes that will help you protect your computer and the data that's on it. Look in the control panel off the start button under "user accounts". By renaming your administrative account to maintenance you give yourself a clue as to what it's used for. Here's a little hint: if you can create and change user accounts you're using a administrative account! Leave only one administrative level account and strongly consider a password.


  1. Only one Administrative account

  2. Always log out of any account Administrative account(do not switch users)

  3. Use passwords (At least on the Administrative account)

  4. Only by using a administrative account can you install programs or use the windows update site





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