Take control of Windows 7 management

Windows 7 is a step forward in security for home PCs, but management in the operating system can be a bit confusing. Everything from the secret administrator to User Account Control (UAC) places a greater burden on the casual user.

To take control of your computer, you need to understand how Windows 7 is organized when it comes to the administrator accounts. Although it’s a complicated topic, there are three things you need to know about management in Windows 7 to make using your computer a safe yet easy-to-use experience.

Admin Account

Many Windows 7 users are not aware that every installation of the operating system has a hidden (some call it secret) administrator account. Unlike an account that has administrator privileges simply because it belongs to the administrator group, the administrator does not belong to the administrator group, but instead behaves much like a root account.

By default, the administrator account is hidden in Windows 7 and can only be unlocked with an account that belongs to the administrator group. The administrator account should only be used for troubleshooting and high-level administrative tasks.

Many people, who want to make life easier for themselves, use the administrator account as their default account. Microsoft discourages this by hiding it and forcing the creation of an account that belongs 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 actions of this account will not be questioned, interrupted or overridden in any way.

Administrative rights

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 must occasionally verify that an action is desired, such as the starting certain programs and starting some functions.

Windows 7 User Account Control (UAC) settings

When a user with an account that belongs to the administrators group wants to change something in Windows 7 that would normally require the administrator, the user does not need to log out of their account and log in again with the administrator account. There is a shortcut that can save some time.

Run as administrator

Suppose you want to unlock the administrator account. Normally such an action would require the administrator account, but the administrator account cannot unlock itself. If you had to, you would find yourself in a catch-22 or “first come, the chicken or the egg” situation.

That’s why Microsoft gave each member of the administrators group the ability to run certain commands as an administrator. For example, to unlock the administrator account, you need to type the following line in the command prompt:

net users administrator /active:yes

However, if you type this into the command prompt using an administrator account, you will get the message: Access is denied

Access to Windows 7 is denied

To unlock the administrator account, you need to run Command Prompt as administrator by right-clicking on the Command Prompt icon and select Run as administrator

Windows 7 Run as administrator

Now when you type the above command in the command prompt, you will receive the message: The command completed successfully.

If you’re not sure how Windows 7 handles management, you’re in the majority. Some blame the confusion on Microsoft trying to incorporate enterprise-level security into a home product.

If you go home with nothing else, remember to use the hidden administrator account as your everyday casual account and never give anyone who uses your computer an account with administrator privileges unless you want that person to have access to everything on your computer, including access to the administrator’s root account.

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