How much security value is gained if I run Windows in a local user account?


Fortitude

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I'm going to install Windows on my laptop and I'm trying to see how much more secure it is when I use Windows as a local standard user instead of as Administrator.

In my current installation I have three accounts, that is an Administrator account, a local Administrator and a local standard user. On a daily basis I use the computer as local user and whenever necessary, for example when installing or uninstalling programs, I'm prompted to enter an Administrator account password. This is occasionally irritating and anyway having three accounts probably takes up unnecessarily some extra space on my hard disk.

Nobody else uses my laptop.

I understand that when I install Windows I'll have created an Administrator account and it will be a Microsoft account. If I recall correctly from what I read in the past, it's advisable to have a second Administrator account, probably a Local one. Should I go ahead and do this and do away with the local standard user account? Which of these accounts would then be used normally?
 
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paulhatton

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For what it is worth I have always through all the various Windows OS that have come out only ever had a local account always installed the OS via the F2 or F12 keys and the Bios boot screen and never ever had any trouble over at least decades as I roll back to Windows 3.0 and DOS 6.22 but in more modern times always used a local account and have mostly well since Windows 10 used MS Defender as antivirus with Trojan Remover software and I am no well behaved only safe sites browsing person.
 

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glasskuter

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instead of as Administrator.
If you want any control at all over your system don't use a local standard user alone. It has too many limitations. A Standard user is not allowed to install new or even run certain existing apps on the computer. You cannot change Windows passwords and create new Administrator or Standard user accounts. If you want to use a standard user account as your daily driver, that's fine. But be sure to have a second user with administrative rights available. You'll need it.
 

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Fortitude

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If you want any control at all over your system don't use a local standard user alone. It has too many limitations. A Standard user is not allowed to install new or even run certain existing apps on the computer. You cannot change Windows passwords and create new Administrator or Standard user accounts. If you want to use a standard user account as your daily driver, that's fine. But be sure to have a second user with administrative rights available. You'll need it.
Thank you for the comments. I understand the limitations that you refer to, as they are indeed typical of my laptop use.

I wonder if these limitations also add some security, for example against malware attempting to change something in Program Files. I mean would the malware be prevented from taking the actions that you mention in the same way that I am as a local user or would this not be a serious barrier to malware?
 

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Ghot

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The only security you gain with a standard account is that Windows will ask you 17 times... are you sure?... whenever you try to do anything.
If you are the only user, and no one else COULD use your computer... then there's nothing wrong with an Administrator account.

You will just need to remember to ask yourself... are you sure?... 17 times. :)
 

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    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

Fortitude

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Ghot

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Standard accounts are mainly for guests, or when the kid might get on your computer, or when you might have been partying too hardily. Other than that...

Internally... a standard account makes it more difficult for infection or problem to spread if you're already infected, or already have a problem.

But mainly... just remember to double check (think), everything you do, and an Admin account is fine.


And, as has been said about 57,000 times on these forums... use backup software.
That's the most useful software ever invented. :)
 

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    AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
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    G.Skill (F4-3200C14D-16GTZKW)
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    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (OC'd @ 3.2Ghz)
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    ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition
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    PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad EPS12V
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    Generic Beige case, 80mm fans
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    ZALMAN 9500A 92mm CPU Cooler
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    Logitech Classic Keybooard 200
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    100/100
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    Firefox 3.x ??
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    Symantec (Norton)
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    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

Fortitude

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And, as has been said about 57,000 times on these forums... use backup software.
That's the most useful software ever invented. :)
I totally agree with you about that. I take backups in an insanely regular schedule and on different devices, both locally and to remote locations.
 

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    Intel Core i7-8565U
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Ghot

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I totally agree with you about that. I take backups in an insanely regular schedule and on different devices, both locally and to remote locations.



Standard accounts are for folks that do things like download and install programs like Kazaa or Napster. Or have browsers that look like this...

Image1.png


You don't strike me as someone like that. :)


Now IF there are others in your household that could possibly get on your computer... then sure, a standard account might be useful.
 

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    AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
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    Asus Pro WS X570-ACE
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    G.Skill (F4-3200C14D-16GTZKW)
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    EVGA RTX 2070 (08G-P4-2171-KR)
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    2x Samsung 860 EVO 500GB,
    WD 4TB Black FZBX - SATA III,
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    Windows XP Pro 32bit w/SP3
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    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (OC'd @ 3.2Ghz)
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    ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition
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    TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX (2 x 1GB, DDR2 800)
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    EVGA 256-P2-N758-TR GeForce 8600GT SSC
    Sound Card
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    ViewSonic G90FB Black 19" Professional (CRT)
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    up to 2048 x 1536
    Hard Drives
    WD 36GB 10,000rpm Raptor SATA
    Seagate 80GB 7200rpm SATA
    Lite-On LTR-52246S CD/RW
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    PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad EPS12V
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    ZALMAN 9500A 92mm CPU Cooler
    Mouse
    Logitech Optical M-BT96a
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    Logitech Classic Keybooard 200
    Internet Speed
    100/100
    Browser
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    Symantec (Norton)
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    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

Bree

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I understand that when I install Windows I'll have created an Administrator account and it will be a Microsoft account.
Not necessarily. If you install W11 Pro you do have the option to use a local account as the first account.

If I recall correctly from what I read in the past, it's advisable to have a second Administrator account, probably a Local one.
It is always a good idea to have a second local administrator account. This give you a way into the machine if you ever get locked out of your main account.

I'm trying to see how much more secure it is when I use Windows as a local standard user instead of as Administrator.

Not much, really. Actually even when you are signed in as an administrator you are running everything with standard user privileges. Whenever a process wants to run with administrator rights you will be challenged and asked if you really want to allow this. The only real difference between a standard user and an administrator is that an administrator can just click 'OK' to do so. A standard user would have to provide the password of an administrator account to continue.

So if malware tried to run with admin rights you would be asked whether or not to allow it. As long as you don't just click 'OK' without thinking then it is as safe to used an administrator account as it would be to use a standard account.
 
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  • Operating System
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    Dell Lattitude E4310
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    i5 M 520
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Fortitude

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OK, I'm sold. I'll create two Administrator accounts and goodbye to the irritating need to enter a password several times during the day!

See you on the other side of my installation :D
 

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    8GB
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pparks1

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For my home computer, I just use the single account created when the box was first installed with Windows 10. So, my standard user account that has admin access.

On my work computer, I have to run with a standard user account and then I have a secondary account with admin access. A handful of times per day I have to enter in my secondary account name, and my 20+ character (required) complex password. I survive. I used to have it setup on my finterprint reader. 1 finger was my standard account and the 2nd finger was admin account. But then they disabled the fingerprint readers on all machines, so I lost that luxury.
 

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    AZW SEI
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    Intel Iris Plus 655
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    512GB NVMe
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Fortitude

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I used to have it setup on my finterprint reader. 1 finger was my standard account and the 2nd finger was admin account. But then they disabled the fingerprint readers on all machines, so I lost that luxury.
A fingerprint reader is very useful indeed. That's what I use when I switch from one account to an other.
 

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  • OS
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    8GB
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TairikuOkami

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I'm trying to see how much more secure it is when I use Windows as a local standard user instead of as Administrator.
Enormously, malware will not be able to auto-elevate, that is basically how all the infections work.
I use admin account with UAC at max, because standard user account would be too bothersome.
 

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    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (07/19)
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    MSI B450 TOMAHAWK 7C02v1H6 (07/19)
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    4x 8GB ADATA XPG GAMMIX D10 DDR4 3200MHz CL16
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    MSI Radeon RX 580 ARMOR 8G OC (08/19)
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    Creative Sound Blaster Z (11/16)
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    1920×1080@75Hz + FreeSync (DisplayPort)
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    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S@700rpm
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    HP Wireless Silent 280M Mouse (05/21)
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Fortitude

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I'm pleased to say that I finished a clean install of Windows and other programs. It took me half a day to prepare and two full days to install everything. The preparation consisted of creating a list of programs, finding and saving most of my programs' settings as well as ensuring that I would have the latest versions on hand for installation. I didn't experience many serious problems although I did waste some time at specific stages. I made relevant notes for the future. I created two Administrator accounts and it has been very easy to install my programs using an Administrator account.

What's also important is that the problem that I mentioned in this posting has been solved.
 

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Fabler2

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I'm pleased to say that I finished a clean install of Windows and other programs. It took me half a day to prepare and two full days to install everything. The preparation consisted of creating a list of programs, finding and saving most of my programs' settings as well as ensuring that I would have the latest versions on hand for installation. I didn't experience many serious problems although I did waste some time at specific stages. I made relevant notes for the future. I created two Administrator accounts and it has been very easy to install my programs using an Administrator account.

What's also important is that the problem that I mentioned in this posting has been solved.
Now all you need to do is make an image backup, to save all the hassle and time, if anything goes feet up again :wink:
 

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    Win 11 Pro & Dev.
    Computer type
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    ASUS VivoBook
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    AMD Ryzen 7 3700U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx
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    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. X509DA (FP5)
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    12GB
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    RX Vega 10 Graphics
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    1920x1080@60Hz
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    INTEL SSD 660p 512GB NVMe
    Internet Speed
    25 Mbps
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ACER
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 5800H / 3.2 GHz
    Motherboard
    CZ Scala_CAS (FP6)
    Memory
    16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 SDRAM 3200 MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6 GB GDDR6 SDRAM
    Sound Card
    Realtek Audio. NVIDIA High Definition Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    15.6" LED backlight 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 144 Hz
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
    Hard Drives
    1.024 TB SSD M.2 2280 - Samsung
    PSU
    180 Watt, 19.5 V
    Mouse
    Logitech
    Internet Speed
    25 Mbps
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender

Dch48

Well-known member
Member
Local time
7:31 AM
Posts
424
Location
Upstate NY
OS
Windows 11 Home
I've never understood the need for anything other than the Microsoft account running as administrator. All the local account stuff seems silly to me. I also set up my computer to automatically log me in at startup. None of that password or PIN stuff.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom built
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
    Motherboard
    MSI B550-A Pro
    Memory
    16 GB DDR4-3200
    Graphics Card(s)
    PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6600XT with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Realtek integrated
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Acer Nitro 24" RG241Y 144hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    1920 X 1080
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB SATA SSD
    Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD
    PSU
    LEPA B650 650 watt
    Case
    Enermax Coenus
    Cooling
    Cooler Master Hyper T4 air
    Keyboard
    CM Storm Devastator
    Mouse
    E-Blue Cobra Jr.
    Internet Speed
    100mbs
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Optical Drives: LG DVD-RW and Pioneer BluRay/ DVD burner
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS
    Motherboard
    Asus board (GA402RK)
    Memory
    16 GB DDR5-4800
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Radeon 680M and discrete Radeon RX 6800S with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek with Dolby Atmos
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Laptop screen 14" WQXGA, IPS, 120hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    2560 X 1600
    Hard Drives
    1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD (Micron)
    PSU
    Battery power and Asus power brick/adapter. Also has USB-C charging
    Case
    Laptop
    Cooling
    Laptop fans in vapor chamber
    Mouse
    Touchpad and Omoton bluetooth mouse
    Keyboard
    Built in backlit
    Internet Speed
    100mbps
    Browser
    Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
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