Lock down Windows XP from unauthorized use?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Glenda 'LadyInRed' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Since I am not that tech-savvy when it comes to making changes on a computer system, I have decided to ask this question. I hope that you can give me an answer to it, then I can stop trying to figure it out on my own.

I have a son that is 27 years old and he is very intelligent when it comes to the computer. He likes to get on my computer since I have a fast Internet connection (DSL), and downloads music using Kazaa. The problem is that every time that Kazaa is installed onto my computer it causes a lot of problems. I have tried to prevent him from getting onto my computer while I am away by setting a screensaver password, but the shortest time that you can set it to appear is one minute and that can be bypassed by shutting the computer off and then back on and before the screensaver starts. Is there some way that I can completely lock my system so that he can not even get onto it? Your help would be greatly appreciated. "

My response:

I'm assuming you're running Windows XP?

If so, the answer is to:

  • create your own user account using a unique password
  • log off when you're not using the computer (Start -> Log off)
  • don't let him log in as your account (don't share your password)
  • don't let him have his own account
  • don't let him log in as the administrator user
  • That should essentially "lock down" your computer. That being said, there are a few other things to consider with respect to the administrator account:

    1. If he installed Windows XP on your computer, he probably also knows the administrator user password. You can reset the admin user password (and change your own account password) to something else by clicking Start -> Run, then type in "control userpasswords2" (no quotes) and press Enter. Note that your user account needs administrator access level in order to reset the admin password. If you don't have admin access, you can also reset the admin password using one of the methods outlined on this page.
    2. The administrator account password is blank by default if you own Windows XP Home Edition and will need to be changed. Refer to this previous Gazette article for more info.

    PS: on a related note -- if you share your computer with family members and are looking to password protect / restrict certain files and folders (and not the entire machine), you may want to try a neat utility called Folder Password Expert (recently reviewed in our newsletter).

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