Sharing your computer safely and securely using Windows user accounts

Most families have only one computer per household and need to be able to share it safely and securely. A useful feature of Windows XP and Vista called user accounts allows each person to have their own account within the operating system.

The benefits of Windows user accounts:

four button graphic1. Security - children can be given a limited account which prevents them from accessing vulnerable parts of the computer such as the system files. It also prevents them from installing anything on the computer which has the advantage of preventing spyware and viruses from being installed.

2. Sharing - each account can be allocated it’s own username and password to prevent someone else accessing it and changing the settings, such as your desktop preferences. This enables members of the household to personalise their own accounts within Windows, essetnially making it seem like everyone is using their own special computer, even though they are all sharing.

3. Administration - the administrator account is the only account which has access rights to install software and general access to all system files. This account can also create private folders so that other users cannot access personal files. By creating private folders parents can protect their children or other household members from mistakenly altering or deleting important documents on the computer.

For more information on user accounts with Windows XP or Vista go online to or type in “user account” into windows help facility.