Windows Vista Tutorial

Types of user accounts in Windows Vista

User account types in Windows Vista Anyone using a computer running Windows Vista has to be logged in as a user; what the user is allowed to do is based on the user account type under which they are logged in. This tutorial explores the three types of user built into Vista: the Administrator, the Standard user, and the Guest user. We will briefly go over the characteristics of these canonical profile types, and over the advantage of each of these permission levels.


The Administrator user account type

When you first booth Windows Vista and setup the first user, it will by default become a user of type administrator; the administrator can do anything on the computer, including creating, deleting, and managing other users. There has to be at least one administrator for each Vista-based PC, but there can be several of them. In fact, you could setup all users to run as administrators - although this is not advisable from a security standpoint: the lowest amount of permissions a user has, the least amount of damage he or she can cause (intentionally or not).

The Standard user type

The Standard user is your every day Windows Vista user: they can do most anything on the computer, requiring only occasional help from the computer administrator. If at all possible, all users should be setup as standard users, and only supply the administrator password as needed. While you are logged in as a standard user, you can temporarily act as an administrator to perform certain tasks forbidden to standard, regular users. This is the best of both worlds: you can maximal security protection from Windows Vista, while still able to act as administrator now and then. The Administrator account just "sits" there, unused, and all PC users log into Windows Vista as standard users.

"Standard users" are what Windows XP called "Limited users". The roles are essentially identical, except for the fact that Windows Vista is much more secure than Windows XP, even after XP Service Pack 2 was released, and made XP much more secure than any consumer version of Windows that preceded it.

The Guest account

The Guest account functionality is turned off by default, and should remain turned off unless you need to allow people to access your computer without a password, and without the need to access other users' files. The only basic customization available to the Guest account is changing the user account picture, and turning off the Guest account. Again, leave it turned off unless absolutely necessary. The Guest account is not inherently unsafe, but a good security practice is to turn off all functionality you do not need (leaving seemingly innocuous features turned on increases the "surface of attack", or gives the bad guys more options to access your data).

The following Windows Vista tutorials will delve deeper into user management and customization, but a brief overview of the three user account types was needed, and done.

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