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Understanding User Accounts in Windows XP
Everyone who uses Windows XP needs a user account. User accounts act like cocktail party nametags and help Windows recognize who's sitting at the keyboard. Windows XP dishes out three types of user accounts: Administrator, Limited, and Guest. Each type of account gets to do different functions on the computer. If the computer were an apartment building, the administrator would be the manager, the limited accounts would be the tenants, and guests would only get to drop by and use the bathroom in the lobby.
The administrator controls the computer, deciding who gets to use it and what they can do on it. Limited accounts can use the computer, but they can't make any big changes to it. Guests can also use the computer, but their actions are tightly restricted.
On a computer running Windows XP Home, the owner usually holds the administrator account. He or she then sets up accounts for other household members, changing their accounts when needed, fixing lost passwords, and if desired, peeking into other users' files. Here's the important part: Only administrators can install software and change the computer's hardware.
In a family, the parents usually hold administrator accounts, the kids usually have limited accounts, and the babysitter logs in using the guest account.
On computers running Windows XP Professional, the administrator holds the same privileges and more. But because Windows XP Professional offers many more security features and settings, its administrator in an office setting is often a full time job.
To see what version of Windows XP you're using, Home or Professional, click the Start button, right click on My Computer, and choose Properties from the pop up menu. On the first page ¨ the one beneath the General tab ¨ your version is listed beneath the word System.
Administrators should create limited accounts for people who use the computer on a regular basis. Windows XP then keeps track of the way each limited account member prefers the computer to be set up. After a limited account user logs on, Windows XP displays that person's favorite desktop and background, and remembers his or her favorite Internet Explorer Web sites. Everything looks just the way that user set it up.
Administrators should create a single guest account for people the computer doesn't need to recognize. Guests can use the programs and log on to the Internet or read their e mail, but they can't change any settings, install programs, or burn CDs.
More than one person can hold an administrator account on a computer. In fact, all the users can hold one, if the computer's owner prefers that. That lets anybody install software and change important computer settings. (It also lets everybody peek into each other's files.)
When you install Windows XP, the software automatically grants administrator status to every account you create. After the installation is complete, be sure to change these accounts to limited or guest status unless you trust those people to handle your computer wisely.


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