(Third in a series)
If you’re like most families, there’s one computer that everyone uses. Something that helps with the management of the machine is assigning each user their own account on the machine. It’s not hard to do, regardless of what kind of machine you have.
For Windows: Go to Control Panel > choose User Accounts
For Mac: Open the System Settings > choose Accounts
The important part of this process is defining what kind of account the user has – there are a few types:
- Administrator – an all-powerful being on the machine. Administrators can install software, change user accounts, or do just about whatever they want to do to the machine.
- Standard User – these users can generally install software and make changes to their own accounts, but can’t change other’s accounts.
- Restricted/Managed User – these users can’t install software, make changes or really do much more than “use” the machine.
In my view, the account should be as restrictive as possible – because if kids (or other adults, for that matter) can’t install anything, they won’t be able to hurt themselves or the computer with a virus, malware or simply software that just doesn’t need to be there.
In Windows 7 Home, there are only two kinds of users: Administrator and Standard. Choose Standard, but then apply some of the Parental Controls that are available in Windows 7:
Within the Parental Controls, set time limits or windows for usage, or restrict programs/games. All of these settings are defined for each user, so creating different rules for different people is easy.
So what happens when a Standard/Restricted user tries to install something? It prompts for a username and password of an administrative user; if it doesn’t get one, nothing installs.
This is just one way and one step in securing a machine – there are plenty more ways to infuriate the non-Administrator users of the household. In the next installment, I’ll talk about the browser – in particular, Internet Explorer.