Sharing a Home Computer
IN THIS CHAPTER:
- About Sharing a Windows XP Computer
- Create a User Account
- Change the Account Picture
- Password Protect a User Account
- Change the Account Type
- Configure a .NET Passport for a User Account
- Log On to Windows
- Switch Users
- Delete a User Account
Even in households and home offices that have multiple computers (the reason you are setting up your wireless network), it’s not uncommon to share a computer with another user or users. This chapter takes a look at sharing a computer with another person and focuses on creating and managing Windows user accounts. We also take a look at the process of logging on and off your Windows system and switching users.
10 About Sharing a Windows XP Computer
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Use the Control Panel
When you install Windows XP on a computer (or start a new computer for the first time, with Windows XP pre-installed), you are walked through the process of creating a user account. This first user account is the Computer Administrator account for the computer. The initial account has administrative abilities such as the ability to create new users (or delete users) and maintain the Windows operating system, including making changes to the system settings and adding and removing software and hardware.
When only one account exists on a Windows XP computer (the initial account created immediately after the installation of the Windows operating system), you are taken directly to the Windows desktop after the boot process. This behavior is also attributed to the fact that the initial account is created without a password. So, your system isn’t really secure because it boots automatically to your one and only user account, which happens to have administrative capabilities. You specify the name for the account the first time you use Windows and walk through the process of adding at least one user account and activating Windows over the Internet. This means that the administrative account (the one you named) isn’t protected by a password. It makes sense to create a password for your administrative user account to provide some basic security for the computer in terms of who can log on to your system. If other users need access, you should create user accounts for them.
Because the initial user account on the Windows system is created with administrative abilities, it falls to this user (you) to create any additional user accounts. If more than one person is using a computer, it makes sense for each user to have his own account. There are benefits to each user having his own account, without even factoring in security. For example, each user can personalize the Windows desktop including fonts, desktop background, and desktop icons.
There are two types of user accounts you can create. You can create user accounts that are designated computer administrator (as your initial account is) or you can create accounts that are limited. Limited user accounts cannot add, delete, or edit user accounts. A limited user also cannot change systemwide settings or install software and hardware. You determine the type of user account when you create the account, and you do have the ability to change an existing account from computer administrator to limited if required.
If you are using the administrative account and create new user accounts, you must supply the name for those accounts (see Create a User Account).