There’s a simple step you can take that can make it almost impossible for a hacker to get control of your computer or install malicious software.

It’s also great if you have multiple users on your computer. This prevents someone from installing a program you don’t want or making changes you don’t like to your settings. It’s called a restricted user account and it can protect your data and your settings.

When you first set up a computer, the main account is always an administrator account. This means that the account can install and run anything without restriction. However, if you have kids using the same computer or if you find you want to limit what can be done on the computer, you may want to look into this option.

Windows allows for three account types: Administrator, Standard, and Guest. To create a new account open control panel. To create a new account in Windows 7 go the Control Panel and then User Accounts. Click on Add or Remove User Accounts.

 

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Select New account.

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Choose a name for the account and the type of account. For our purposes, we’re going to want to create a Standard account.  Here’s why.

Administrator has full control and can install and change anything on the computer. A standard account can make changes to the settings on the computer and these will not affect any other users. If a standard user wants to install software or make changes other than the basic changes, they must have the administrator’s password.

Your PC also has a pre-existing Guest Account.

A guest account is similar to the standard account but users are unable to make any changes to settings or hardware. A guest account must be turned on before it can be used.  Look under User Accounts in Control Panel. Just click on the Guest account to turn it on if it is off.

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Really, most of us do not need to have an administrative account for our daily computer use, as it is only needed for downloading and installing programs or changing a system setting. And on a limited account, then, all you need to know is the username and password of an Administrative account to install or make the changes. Alternately, on a limited account, any program can typically be run as an Administrator by right-clicking the program, then choosing Run as Administrator. Again, you would need to enter the username and password of an administrative account, but then you have full access.

A WARNING: When setting up and changing user accounts, be certain you do NOT set your only account or all accounts to a standard or limited account. This will not allow you to do anything on your computer that requires administrator privileges.

So, just log on to that Standard account you’ve created for most of your activities. Especially for surfing the Internet.

If you use that Standard account to surf the Internet and read your e-mails, even if a malicious piece of code manages to get through, it can’t make any important changes to our computer. It can’t install and begin to steal your data.

If you do need to install a program or make changes to the settings, you can always switch over the administrator account. Just make sure you remember the username and password for all of your accounts.

In Windows 10, the process is slightly different. I’ll cover those steps tomorrow.