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Running Windows XP as a Non-Admin

written by: Tolga BALCI•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 2/28/2010

When you install Windows XP without paying particular attention to the user settings, you can end up using your computer with an administrator account which should not be done. Hop in to learn why and see how can you run Windows XP as a non-admin.

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    Why Run XP As a Non-Admin?

    In no case should a user run a computer as an administrator, except when performing administrative tasks such as computer management, network management, adding/removing software, etc.. There are two basic reasons for this:

    1. You can easily damage your system: Right-clicking on a wrong folder and deleting the contents may render your computer unusable.
    2. Malware infection will be deeper: If your computer becomes infested with malware, you are basically saying, “Look Mr. Malware, here you are on my computer with administrator rights, do whatever damage you wish.” With a restricted user account – that is, a non-admin – your computer may be infected, but you have at least some protection that will limit the spread of the malware and the consequent extent of damages to your system.

    To avoid these two fatal consequences, you should always be running Windows XP as a non-admin (of course, this also applies to all the other operating systems you might use.)

    Before making changes, let’s look at the differences between a regular user and an administrator in Windows XP. A regular user can not do the following:

    • install programs and hardware
    • make system-wide changes
    • access and read all non-private files
    • create and delete user accounts
    • change other people’s accounts
    • change his own account name or type

    These things can only be performed through an administrator account.

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    How Can I Create a Regular User in Windows XP?

    Creating a Limited User Account Creating a non-admin user (called a regular user) in Windows XP is very easy. To do all of the following, you must be logged on as an Administrator or with an administrator account to your computer.

    Go to the Control Panel, select “User Accounts”. In the opened window, click “Create a new account.” In the next screen, select “Limited” under “Pick an account type” at the top. Click on “Create account” at the bottom. That’s all, now log off from the administrator account and log back in with your limited user account.

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    In case you want to install software, right click on the installation file and select “Run as” and then select the administrator account. Input the administrator password and continue with the installation. Try to stay away from the admin account as much as possible and try running Windows XP as a non-admin at all times.