Guest Author - Rayna H. Battle
How many users accounts do you have on your computer?
No matter how many (or how few) users operate your PC, you should always have more than one existing account. Does that rule apply even if you are the only user? Yes, it certainly does. Having more than one user account can protect your computer in case of a malware invasion.
Not too long ago, a single computer with numerous accounts specific to each person was a foreign concept to the average home user. Today, individual user accounts may still seem like a relatively new thought, but it’s an established feature. If you use a Windows based OS (operating system), particularly Windows XP or later, you are most likely already well aware that you can create multiple accounts for different users - even if you are the only user. One of the great benefits of creating multiple accounts is that it allows you to determine which account can access what information. This flexibility means that while you can and should have one account that controls everything, you can also have an account with limited access. Having one account that is restricted to certain parts of the system is a free, simple safety net in a worst-case scenario. Setting up your safety net just takes a few simple steps.
The default Windows account is an administrative account – meaning that whomever uses that particular account has full privileges and access to anything and everything on the PC. You can set a password for this account, which is a step that Windows highly recommends. I do not recommend using this account to get online. Instead, set it up and leave it alone. Use a standard user account – one without administrative privileges – to get online and/or download.
Once you have created a password for the administrative account, set up a secondary, standard account. This is a simple, step-by-step process easily done through the Windows Control Panel. Your secondary account doesn’t necessarily need a password, but it should have only partial access to the system. It should not be another admin account. That would defeat the purpose of having more than one user ID and using one as a safety net.
Now your safety net is in place. So simple, yet so effective! How so? Well, by setting up another account with limited access, you have an account that will likely not be at all affected by factors that may poison the account that is used most often. Has your standard account been invaded by spam, malware, or worse – a virus? Immediately log out of that account and switch to your admin account. From the admin account, you can work on repairing your damaged account – or a technician can.
Keep in mind that this safety net will only work most effectively if your separate accounts are not using the file sharing option.