If Other People Use Your Computer, You Should Have a Guest Account

By | March 15, 2014
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This tip is for Windows XP through Windows 8.1

After all the computers we’ve worked on since February 2012, one thing we have noticed is how many of you have friends, kids or grandkids that use your computer. How many times have we heard, “I don’t know how that got there! It must have been my — son, grandson, grandkids, daughter, granddaughter, friend — who installed that! Get it off my computer!”

There’s a way you can allow your friends,  kids and grandkids to use your computer but not make any changes to it — and it’s as simple as activating the Guest account in Control Panel/Users — and securing your own administrator account with a password (a strong password).

Those using a Guest account cannot make changes to your computer, but they can access the Internet — Facebook and the like.

A guest account is an account for users who don’t have a permanent account on your computer. It allows people to use your computer without having access to your personal files. People using the guest account can’t install software or hardware, change settings, or create a password.

You have to turn on the guest account before it can be used. And here’s how you do that.

1. Open User Accounts in Control Panel.
2. Click Guest.
3. Click Turn On the Guest Account. The guest account will be activated. Now, a user without a user account can use your computer but not make any changes to it.

In Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 — you may have to click “Manage another account” before you see the “Guest” account. To turn it on, click on Turn On the Guest Account

It’s a great way to allow others to use your computer while protecting the integrity of your computer and the confidentiality of your personal files and folders.

When your kids use your computer or your grandkids come over and use your computer – log out of your password-protected account and have them click on the Guest account icon to start using you computer.

Try it!

5 thoughts on “If Other People Use Your Computer, You Should Have a Guest Account

  1. Rose Smith

    I have always thought that it was better if I use a limited account for web surfing so that if you accidentally come across a malicious web site it would be running with the privileges of the administrator account. Am I wrong in that?

    1. infoave Post author

      Theoretically, you should have deadbolt locks on every entry door in your home. Theoretically you should have motion sensors around the perimeter of your home. Theoretically you should have a car alarm on your car.

      Not many people are going to want to use a limited account as their default account because who is going to want to log off, log back on, type in a password, then log off, log back into their Guest account, all just to download a 300KB broswer extension for a small Windows utility — or to change a setting on their computer. Not many.

      Some of these so-called computer experts recommend using a guest account as a user’s main account. Sometimes I think they’re just running out of things to talk about. Sure, it’s great advice in theory, but it’s so impracticable practically no one will ever do it.

  2. Annie

    Just a word of warning. Be absolutely sure you remember the password to your PC/laptop before doing this. I’m locked out of my laptop now, & have tried every single conceivable pw that I know of to get back in but can’t. I’ve been online seeking help for getting myself out of this mess, but I’m realizing that getting out of it is going to be as much of a headache as being locked out of my laptop! I had my laptop set to never require a pw, so it’s seemed ages since I had to enter one to get in to it. Now that I need to enter a pw again I can’t remember it! I’ve gone through secure notes in Last Pass, & nothing. Why on earth didn’t I note that pw??!! I have a lot more than a headache to deal with here. More like a migraine!

    1. infoave Post author

      This is kind of obvious, right? Anytime you password protect anything the object is to keep your stuff private…and therefore you should always remember your password. Writing it down somewhere is not a good idea, since then you’d have to hide or lock-up the piece of paper you wrote it on, and then you might forget where you put the paper. This could go on and on and on.

      The point of the article wasn’t so much to keep your stuff safe as it was to prevent your computer from being infected with malware, hijackers, toolbars and other things that someone else using your computer may not be aware of.

      Of course, you could always ignore the advice in this article and just leave your computer wide open — inviting others to log on with administrator credentials and do whatever they wanted on your machine. That way you would never forget your password because you would not need a password. The loop in this logic is endless.

  3. Annie

    I definitely wasn’t ignoring the advice in the article at all. I was following it, as I do all of your advice. I know exactly what the point of it was. Your advice is always good, & I value it. I never write my pw’s down on paper. I purchased LastPass a long time ago, because you guys recommended it. I take full responsibility in not putting my laptop pw in the secure notes section of LastPass. That was my mistake, & one I won’t make again that’s for sure. With my comment, I simply wanted to let others know what I’d done, so they wouldn’t make the same mistake, that’s all. But, now that I think more about it I probably shouldn’t have commented @ all. I seriously doubt anyone else would have done what I did.


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