Sort of a child-protect my computer question, kinda sorta
July 25, 2014 2:08 PM   Subscribe

My boss is bringing his kids to the office over the weekend. I have toys and stuff for them to play with, and he also wants to let them use my computer to play games, etc., while they're here. Let me start by saying this is NOT a problem and I have NO issue with it, but I just need a quick bit of advice as to how to protect myself without losing my bookmarks, etc.

The thing is, yeah, I don't really want my boss's kids knowing exactly where I go on my computer on a day to day basis. What do I need to do here besides logging out of stuff that I'm automatically logged onto from this computer, and erasing my history, and how screwed up is that going to leave me?

What other steps would you take in my shoes?
posted by janey47 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Create a guest account on the computer, let them use the guest account.

Should have its own set of browser settings and everything, and that way they don't go messing up your careful configuration of your environment.
posted by straw at 2:10 PM on July 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you can't create a guest account and they're playing web-based games...can you hide your usual browser icon, download a different browser, and put that on your desktop for them?
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:13 PM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

gnomeloaf, that's a perfect solution. I'm glad I asked! Thanks so much.
posted by janey47 at 2:29 PM on July 25, 2014

Yes, put on a different browser, and then maybe set the homepage to CBeebies
posted by pipeski at 2:31 PM on July 25, 2014

That's awesome but a little young for them tee hee
posted by janey47 at 2:55 PM on July 25, 2014

For extra peace of mind I would back up your bookmarks to a file (particular details of how to do that will vary from browser to browser, but this page seems to have the big players covered except for Safari) and email/Dropbox/thumbdrive yourself a copy, just in case they go poking around and find your default browser*. Ditto for any other files (work or personal) you might have on the computer that you absolutely do not want to lose.

*Speaking of defaults... it might not be a bad idea to set the operating system's default browser to whatever your temporary weekend replacement is; otherwise if they're in some other program and click a link, they might wind up in the browser you don't want them to use.
posted by usonian at 3:27 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Both straw and gnomeloaf have great solutions though I don't know how much you are locked out for installs. Some IT folks take a really dim view of installing a new browser or setting up a guest account.

Your question says "toys and stuff" which leads me to think they are young. My experience as a stepdad is that kids are not smart about what and what to not download but don't really learn to be sneaky on computers till about age ten - I know because I taught them. Since your boss, who seems like a friend will be there it is unlikely the kids are going to be too adventuresome on the computer and just want to get the day over with.

Talk to IT to make sure it's ok, stick a few games on the desktop.
posted by vapidave at 3:37 PM on July 25, 2014

On the day before, use something like Macrium Reflect to build a complete image of your HD onto an external drive. Install the browser as above, then on the next day you're in, restore your computer from the image. All downloads will be gone, including the kid browser. Ta-da!
posted by plinth at 4:24 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I personally think it's a bit insane to trust kids to not mess up your computer in some way if you only go so far as to provide them a second browser on your user account, especially kids today who are much more familiar with computers than they were not that long ago.

Creating a separate user account for the kids to use is not hard, and will prevent them from easily accessing anything they shouldn't be able to in terms of your files, browsing history, login credentials, etc. Here are instructions for Windows 7, Windows 8 and MacOS X.

If you don't have the ability to create user accounts on your PC, it is likely that IT has given you a non-administrator account yourself and would probably go into conniptions if they found out you were sharing your PC logged into your account with anyone's children (or anyone else but yourself, for that matter). In this case, I'd highly recommend talking to someone in IT before sharing your computer.
posted by Aleyn at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

Hope you have a good antivirus on there
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:01 PM on July 25, 2014

hide your usual browser icon, download a different browser, and put that on your desktop for them?
posted by gnomeloaf at 14:13 on July 25 [3 favorites +] [!]

gnomeloaf, that's a perfect solution. I'm glad I asked! Thanks so much.

No it's not. It's really not. The guest account is the right thing to do, in a way that hiding browser icons so completely isn't.

Do not let people you don't trust (especially small people who think they know what they're doing but have no real clue) use your user account. Just don't. Set up the guest account instead.

"OMG, user accounts are confusing! That sounds like a hassle!"

In the words of Jamie Zawinski: Shut up. I know things. You will listen to me. Do it anyway.
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 AM on July 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

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