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What Is An Administrator Profile And What Does It Do?

Posted By Ty On June 28, 2012 @ 10:10 AM In Computer Terms,Security Help | 3 Comments

Frederick from Trinidad, West-Indies writes:

What is an administrator and what is its function or functions?

You should normally be able to make any change you want to your operating system – it is your computer after all, right?  Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. The Windows operating systems actually have two different kinds of accounts: standard and administrator. The administrator account gives you the ability to view and modify critical system files, as well as to make changes that affect all other users on the computer. These two account types are in place to protect your computer so that people can’t easily ruin your system by deleting important files or installing virus-infected programs.

When attempting to open certain programs that let you change system settings, such as the registry editor or Microsoft management console, a prompt is first opened on the screen asking if you want to allow the change. If you aren’t currently logged into an administrator account, the Windows operating system won’t let you open the program or make any changes. You may run into this same problem while attempting to delete certain files or install programs.

To access these programs or install new software, you need to turn your profile into an administrator account. If you aren’t currently logged into the profile that you want to grant administrative privileges, open the “Start” menu and click the arrow icon next to the “Shut Down” button. Select “Switch User” and click the name of the profile you want to use.

To access your computer’s account options, return to the “Start” menu and click the “Control Panel” button.

In the “Control Panel” menu, click the green heading labeled “User Accounts and Family Settings,” which is located at the top-right corner of the window.

Bring up the menu for changing your profile’s options by clicking the green “User Accounts” link at the top of the window.

Click the blue link labeled “Change Your Account Type,” which is located underneath the “Make Changes To Your User Account” heading.

Change your profile to an administrator account by selecting the “Administrator” radio button and clicking the “Change Account Type” button at the bottom of the window.

In some cases, being logged into an administrator account alone isn’t enough to access all aspects of your operating system. Some tools require you to actually specify you want to run the program as an administrator before you will have full access to the software’s features. This issue occurs most frequently in Windows Vista, but some overzealous security programs require you to take this step in Windows 7 as well. If a program isn’t letting you fully use all its features even while logged in as an administrator, right-click the desktop icon for the program and select the “Run as Administrator” option.

Although using an administrator account is handy and makes it simpler to change system settings, Microsoft recommends that you instead use a standard account for your day-to-day computing. While it may occasionally be less convenient, using a standard account makes it more difficult for spyware or virus infections to get a foothold on your computer.

~ Ty Arthur


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