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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Run programs as an administrator

Windows is under constant attack by viruses, Trojans, worms, and all the rest of the malware. This isn't because Windows is insecure or risky in any way, it's just because it is the most popular computer operating system and so many millions of people use it on a daily basis. It's a huge target for malware creators. One of the ways in which you can prevent malware from getting on your computer or doing any damage is to use a standard user account. An administrator account is created by default when you first set up the computer, but once done, you should go to User Accounts in the Control Panel and create a Standard user account for every-day use. It's more resistant to attack from malware. Most software runs fine with a standard account, but occasionally you will come across a program that won't work unless it is run from an administrator account, which has full permission to access all parts of the system. Here are a few techniques for running administrator programs from a safer standard user account.

If you hold down the Shift and Ctrl keys as you click an icon in the taskbar, the program will be started with administrator rights (you must be already logged in as an administrator, which is actually just another type of standard account - see later). If you right click on any item on the Start menu you'll see an option to run it as an administrator. If you hold down Shift and right click any item on the Start menu, you will see a menu called Run as a different user. Select it and you can then enter the username and password of an administrator to run the program as if you were logged in as that user.

A lot of people use an administrator account for their every-day use and it's a bad habit everyone got into with Windows XP. When you log on to Windows 7 as an administrator, you don't actually have administrator rights. It's just another standard user account. The difference is that it is easier to run a program with administrator rights because you've already logged in with an administrator account - there's no need to pick a user and enter the password as described above. This is basically why you see User Account Control popping up whenever you try to do something that needs administrator rights. It's a warning that Windows is switching from a standard account with limited access to administrator account with full access.

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