Here’s a Windows term, you’ve probably heard before but might not know precisely what it means: Local account.

With a Windows PC, you have the option of signing in with a Local account or a Microsoft account.  In Windows 7, a local account was the default. For Windows 10, there is a strong push towards that Microsoft account.

What’s the difference? Let’s break it down. Let me start by letting you know that both a local and Microsoft account can be an administrator account. So you won’t be limited in that way if you choose a local account.

With a Microsoft account, you’ll have to sign in with a Microsoft address (, Hotmail, MSN, or LiveMail). You’ll have access to the Windows Store to download and install apps, and you also get free OneDrive cloud storage that you can sync to your PC.

Your setting can sync automatically across multiple devices. For example, changes I make in a Word document on my desktop sync with that same document on my laptop.

You can make your passwords, desktop picture, and settings the same across all of your Windows devices. If you use Outlook, OneDrive, or other Microsoft services this can be handy.

With a local account, you can use any username you want. Your settings won’t be synced across multiple devices. If you need to download something from the Windows Store, you’ll have to log in with a Microsoft account.  Some people like this better because they prefer to share as little info as possible with Microsoft or anyone else.  If you do use some Microsoft services but prefer a local account, you’ll need to log into each of them separately. If you’re using a single device and don’t use any of Microsoft’s other services, you should be fine with a local account.