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Safe to change from admin to limited account?


New Member
I have a friend who keeps getting borderline malware (e.g. browser toolbars) installed on his computer. He has no idea how it happens. There is even an active antivirus on his pc (I believe norton). It comes with his new pc and is valid for 1 year.

After I clean his pc, if I change his account type from administrator to limited user, it should prevent any toolbars from installing, right?

Would this break any software or cause any file to become inaccessible?

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows vista
    Computer type


Active Member
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Pro User
Apologies if this is really obvious to you... but the consequences of getting this wrong are very troublesome to say the least so I'll say it anyway just on the 0.1% chance you didn't know it...

You must always have at least one Administrator-level account active and working on a PC at all times.

Otherwise you'll be locked out of being able to do anything at Admin-level and sooner or later this will be a big problem.

As an example you have to be careful to do things in the right order; for instance you can't change the only account to Limited and then add an Administrator account later; by then it's too late and you're locked out of Admin-level access.

Warning out the way, I'm not totally sure whether it would stop toolbars.

I generally use my machine as a Standard Level account and for instance I can update Firefox to a whole new version and add something like Adblock Plus without being asked for an Admin password, so I guess a malicious browser add-on may be able to get installed too. But running as Standard user does give some protection.

Also there are times when your friend might need admin rights. For instance if he uses Java (not Javascript but Java) then (a) I'd recommend getting rid of it, but (b) if there's some reason why he absolutely must use it, I think you may have to be logged on as Administrator to update it. (And be careful not to just click on defaults but to untick the Ask toolbar or whatever foist-ware it tries to install.) And since Java is a problematical piece of software that's often being targetted by the bad guys, you really want him to be able to keep it updated as soon as possible.

I'd recommend giving your friend 2 accounts, one standard one to use day-to-day and another Admin-level account for the times when he must log on as Admin - tell him to ring you when that happens perhaps.

I don't know what happens if you try to convert an existing account from Admin-level to Standard. My hunch is it should work but it's always possible that some software app won't play ball.

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1, 10

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