Windows 7 is a step forward in securing home computers, but operating system administration can be a little confusing. Everything from secret admin to User Account Control (UAC) is a greater burden on the average user.
To take control of your computer, you need to understand how Windows 7 is organized when it comes to administrative accounts. While this is a complex topic, there are three things you need to know about administering in Windows 7 to make using your computer safe but easy to use.
Many Windows 7 users are unaware that every operating system installation has a hidden (some call it secret) administrator account. Unlike an account that has administrative privileges simply because it belongs to the Administrators group, the administrator does not belong to the Administrators group, but acts as the root account.
By default, the administrator account in Windows 7 is hidden and can only be unlocked by an account belonging to the Administrators group. The administrator account should only be used for troubleshooting and high-level administrative functions.
Many people want to make their life easier by using the Administrator account as their default account. Microsoft prevents this by making it hidden and forcing an account belonging to the Administrators group when the operating system is first installed.
As the highest level of administrative authority, the administrator account is not subject to UAC; all activities of this account are not in any way subject to doubt, interruption or cancellation.
An account with administrative privileges belongs to the Administrators group and has almost full access to all areas and features of Windows 7. However, these types of accounts are subject to UAC, and users with these accounts should check from time to time if action is required, such as launching certain programs and launching some functions.
When a user with an account belonging to the Administrators group wants to change something in Windows 7, which usually requires an administrator, the user does not actually need to log out of their account and re-login with the administrator account. There is a shortcut that can save time.
Run as administrator
Let’s say you want to unblock the administrator account. Typically, this requires an administrator account, but the administrator account cannot unlock itself. If necessary, you would be faced with Catch-22, or the first-come-first-chicken-or-egg situation.
Therefore, Microsoft has provided each member of the Administrators group with the ability to run certain commands as an administrator. For example, to unlock the administrator account, you need to enter the following line at the command line:
net users administrator / active: yes
However, if you enter this into the command line using an administrator account, you will receive a message: Access Denied.
To unlock the administrator account, you need to run Command Prompt as Administrator by right-clicking on the Command Prompt icon and choosing Run as Administrator.
Now when you enter the above command into the command line, you will receive the message: Command completed successfully.
If you are unsure of how Windows 7 administers, you are in the majority. Some blame the confusion that Microsoft is trying to incorporate enterprise-grade security into its home product.
If you don’t have anything else, remember to never use a hidden administrator account as your everyday, casual account, and never give anyone who uses your computer an account with administrator rights, unless you want that person to have access to everything on your computer, including access to the root administrator account.