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Running as an Ordinary User In Windows XP

Protecting the security of your computer is so important these days that I am recommending that my clients set their computers to run as “Limited User” rather than as “Administrator.”

It is especially important with Windows XP not to be running as an administrator, but there are real advantages to creating an “ordinary user” user (sounds silly) in Windows 7 or Vista, also.  While those operating systems are not nearly as vulnerable to viruses and XP, they are still at some risk, and running as a User on them is very easy.  These instructions (in the PDF’s later on the page) are designed to assist with Windows XP since it is much more cumbersome.

I strongly recommend considering a Windows 7 or 8 computer if you are still using XP, but this method will make you less able to be attacked by malware on a site you visit on the web.

This has several advantages:

  1. Malware can’t install without approval.
  2. Grandchildren (and children) can’t install software without the permission and assistance of the adult in charge.
  3. Clicking on a pop-up window won’t automatically install programs that you don’t want on the computer.
  4. You won’t have to pay me to reinstall Windows when an evil program or virus installs itself on your computer.

There are a couple of disadvantages:

  1. In order to install software, you have to change the settings for your user (several steps and some time involved) and then remember to reinstate the “limited user” setting when you are finished.
  2. You have to physically click on the login icon each time the computer boots.

I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

The process is this:

  1. You create an administrative login from the User Accounts section of Control Panel.
  2. You login to that administrative account and set a password for it.
  3. You change the account type for your ORIGINAL user to “limited user.”
  4. You log out of the administrative account and into your user account.
  5. Whenever you want to install a program (or run Windows update or update MalwareBytes or other programs), you log back into the Admin account (putting in the password) and change your user rights to “Administrator” on your regular account. Then log out as admin, back in as your original user, and do the appropriate installs or updates. Log out. Login as administrator and change yourself back to a “Limited User.”

You can find the instructions for Setting Your Computer to run as a User in PDF format by clicking setuser.

You can locate the instructions for Installing Programs While Running as a User in PDF format at userinstall and Microsoft Word – Installing Programs from User Mode-2.

If you live in Emporia or the surrounding area, I can do this for you if you are not comfortable with the process. I ran as a limited user on all my computers the last year I had XP, and it was not a problem for me (but I’m a geek).

For existing clients, the change includes a promise to UNDO the fix FREE if they don’t like running as a user after a couple of weeks. Ask me about that guarantee.