How to create a convenient and secure multi user set up in windows XP.
August 6, 2008 2:02 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to set up multiple user accounts on my computer to: minimize security risk, allow me to keep some files/passwords private, but still let others use my computer for basic tasks?

I like having all of my passwords saved, leaving all my websites logged in, and just generally needing to type passwords as little as possible. (currently I just use a master password in firefox)

But I also don't want anyone walking by my computer to be able to see my email and facebook (unpleasent experiences with modifications to my profile that took me a while to notice).

I also want to make sure that someone is able to use basic functions of my computer like web browsing and movie watching without needing a password.

Is there a better way of doing this than my current set up, which involvess one account with a password to login and a masterpassword in firefox, plus a guest acount?



On a mostly connected note, is there a reason for some web pages that I have a saved password/screen name they are pre entered and i only have to click login, but for others like gmail i have to type a couple of letters of my screen name before it offers the option of completing both the screen name and the password?
posted by vegetableagony to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
 
What OS are you using?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on August 6, 2008


is there a reason for some web pages that I have a saved password/screen name they are pre entered and i only have to click login, but for others like gmail i have to type a couple of letters of my screen name before it offers the option of completing both the screen name and the password?

Yes. These forms have an autocomplete=off attribute. In Firefox 2, this meant that the password would not be saved, you wouldn't even be asked if you wanted to. However, if you forced Firefox to save the password (by using a JavaScript bookmarklet to remove the autocomplete attribute), it would then show up the next time you went to the page. Firefox 3 changed this behavior -- it now respects autocomplete=off even if you previously forced the password to be saved, such that it only autocompletes if you start typing in the username field.

This is probably by design, so that someone watching over your shoulder won't gain information like your username, or even the fact that you have an account in the first place.
posted by kindall at 2:17 PM on August 6, 2008


Just remember that if someone has physical access to your computer there is no security they cannot bypass regardless of what OS you are using.

It's just a question of how much you trust these expected users to go along with your security restrictions and how much effort it takes to override them.
posted by Riemann at 3:19 PM on August 6, 2008


In Windows XP, when setting up (or modifying) user accounts, it gives you the option to 'make private' the account, which will make it so any other user account cannot get into the My Documents folder. Couple that with the fact that you force a password at least on your account, and you should be set. If they aren't sophisticated users, that would be a great start.

To turn on the 'make private' feature on already set-up accounts:
1.) Open My Computer
2.) Navigate to the Document and Settings folder.
3.) Right-click your user account folder and then click Properties.
4.) On the Sharing tab, select the Make this folder private so that only I have access to it check box.
5.) Apply and voila.
posted by deezil at 3:38 PM on August 6, 2008


I am using XP and I am not trying to stop high skilled hackers as much as drunk roommates who think its funny to send prank emails from my account or change my gender on facebook. :)
posted by vegetableagony at 8:08 PM on August 6, 2008


Now that I think about it more, is there any easy way to require a password only for access to a single folder?
posted by vegetableagony at 8:09 PM on August 6, 2008


is there any easy way to require a password only for access to a single folder?

Yes, you can use TrueCrypt and have an entire directory tree be hidden inside a single encrypted file. Just don't forget to close Windows Explorer and any files you have opened and then dismount your TrueCrypt "drive".
posted by forthright at 9:51 PM on August 6, 2008


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