One of the ways you can easily protect yourself against malware and viruses is by running as a "Standard" or "Limited" user in Windows. When you run as administrator, programs can easily get full access to your system, including those that might be installed without your knowledge. But when you run as a standard user, you may run into an issue where a program won't run because it requires more permissions. An example of software that would require additional permissions would be a screen recording program. When this happens, you can elect to run that individual program as administrator.
Richard just bought a new Dell computer and he wants to know if he should change his settings from administrator to standard user. Leo says that a bad guy has the same level of permissions as he has. So if he's an admin, he's letting a bad guy potentially do whatever he wants. If he runs as a limited user, then they can't do anything that an administrator password is required for. He will need to authenticate with the admin password. That's what being just a standard user buys him -- an extra level of protection. Leo says that the kids should definitely be standard users.
Michael tried creating a separate, limited user account for running Windows XP, but his computer crashes and freezes whenever he creates another account. He has tried reformatting and reinstalling Windows several times, but still has this issue. Michael is wondering if he could enable the hidden administrator account in Windows, and just toggle that back and forth between admin and limited.
Sam is worried that his Windows computer is running as an administrator. Leo suggests creating a second administrator account that he won't use. Then downgrade his regular account to standard user. He could make them look completely different to tell them apart. Then if he needs to install something, it will ask him to log in as an administrator. Any software that needs him to run as an admin, he can just right click on it, select the "run as admin" option and type in his password. This will protect him from over 90% of all malware trying to get on his system.
Michael wants to know how he can downgrade his account to a "limited user" as opposed to running as administrator in Windows. Leo says he'll have to create an administrator account first, and then in the Windows user account settings he can downgrade any user account. Should he run as "Guest"? Leo says no, "guest" will automatically delete all the data every time the user logs out. He can just downgrade his current account after logging into another administrator account.
Suzanne's mother has a Windows XP machine and she's wondering what she should do after April 8. Leo says that Microsoft ending life of support for XP really isn't as terrible as it was first believed. If she practices safe computing, her mother should be ok. Here are a few things she can do to protect herself on Windows XP: