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Stop Running XP as Administrator  

One of the things EVERYONE does is run WinXP as an Administrator and to be honest, this irritates the hell out of me.

Now before I get inundated with email with the likes of "well, I have to run it as an Admin else nothing works!" WRONG SPACE BOY!!! You just have to know how to use the "Admin Account".

Now, realizing running as an Admin on the local machine makes life a lot easier what people fail to understand is it also makes life VERY convenient for the folks who write BUGS, VIRUSES, and SPYWARE. That's right folks, if you ran your system as USER with limited rights all the nasty people in the world would have a much more difficult time getting the nasty stuff on your PC since most of the services and programs they want to run on your PC require some sort of service or Admin approval.

"Well, I can't install applications if I don't run as an Admin!" - Again... WRONG SPARKLES!! See, when you setup the PC it MADE an Admin account (but left the password blank which I don't understand at all) then it made a user account which, during the Windows XP install, gave you Admin rights so installing apps was easy. What people don't seem to realize is, you can install any application you want as long as you know the Admin password (which should always be different than the user account).

If you want to install an application while running as a standard user all you have to do is right-click on the app and choose "Run as...", then hit the check box next to "Following User". Put in Administrator and the password for the Administrator. If you have not set a password for the administrator (by default the Admin account's password is... **gulp**... left blank) then set one for the Administrator now:

- Right-click "My Computer" and choose "Manage"
- In the left hand column you will see "Local Users and Groups" - double click it
- Highlight Users
- Looking the right hand column. Right-Click on Administrator and choose "set password" (remember to keep this password different than the rest of the account passwords).

All Done...

Now, when you want to install and application or make a change to the system you can use the Run As command and, if you run into to much trouble you can always log back into the Administrator account and make changes.

Now, lets just say you're ego simply can't take running as a standard user. Okay, I get that so what other options are their? How about running as a Power User? Yea, has a nice ring to it doesn't it? Okay so what's the difference between a power user and a standard user? Ah... this page will help with that.

Now, during the initial machine setup I normally will leave the default admin account tied to the first account made on the system until I have installed all the applications, Windows updates, and the rest of the applications I need. After that, I simply remove the Admin rights to the account and use either a Power User profile or a Standard user profile depending on whom I'm setting up on the system. If I need to install an application or a utility it's pretty simple to just right click on the application I want to install and choose "Run As...".

So, lets say you are reading this article and you think "this guys BRILLIANT! I have to send him cash!" Hey... I can try.

No, seriously let's say you're thinking about trying this out just to see what's it's like. How do you remove the Admin account from your current account? Simple.

- Log off Windows XP.
- If you have the default multi-user Windows XP logon menu - hit ctrl-alt-del TWICE.
- In the new login box type Administrator and the password for the Administrator. If you never set a Administrator password just hit enter. Make sure you set a password for the Admin!
- Right-click "My Computer" and choose "Manage"
- In the left hand column you will see "Local Users and Groups" - double click it
- Highlight Users
- Looking the right hand column. Right-Click on the user account you want to modify and choose - Properties
- Click the "Member Of" tab, highlight Administrator and choose remove.
- Click Ok and your all set.

Logoff the Admin account and log back in to the account you just modified and take a tour. See what you like and don't like. If you want to try running as a "Power User" follow the steps in the last section but, instead of removing an account click: Add - Advanced - Find Now - and choose Power User. Once you add the Power User make sure you remove the regular User account (you don't need that anymore).

Bottom line is this:
You do NOT need to be an admin to read email, play games, or browse the web. The protection of running as a standard user or even as a power user far outweighs the small inconvenience you might bump up against. On top of that... if you set your kids up as just standard users think of the all the times they're going to need that "password" to install an app that, well you might not want them to install.

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