>> Bill Detwiler: It's generally not a good idea to use a Windows administrator account for day to day computing. But there are times, being logged in as a machine's local admin, it just makes things easier. Well, I'm Bill Detwiler and during this episode of TR Dojo, I'll show you two ways to activate the hidden administrator account on Windows 7 and Vista.
>> Bill Detwiler: During most normal Windows 7 and Vista installations, users are prompted to create an initial account they will use to manage the computer. Now, this is not the same as the true administrator account, it's just an account with the ability to elevate the admin right because it's a member of the local administrator's group. So where is the true administrator account? Well, it's there, it's just hidden. And, honestly, for most people that's a good thing. Using an administrator's account for day to day computing makes it easier for malicious software to compromise a machine's security. On Windows machines, logging on with the administrator account disables several security features such as user account control and IE's protective mode. And, despite the risks, there are times when using a machine's true administrator account just makes things easier. So I'm going to show you two ways to make the hidden administrator account appear. The first method I'm going to show you works on Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, but not on Home. So first, open the start menu, right click the computer icon and select manage from the context menu. When you see the computer management console, go to the navigation panel on the left and click the arrow next to the local user's and groups to expand the branch. Then click the user's folder. At this point, you should be able to see and select the administrator account. With the administrator account selected, click more actions under the administrator in the action's panel on the right and select properties from the menu. When you see the administrator property's dialogue box, just clear the account is disabled checkbox and click okay. By default the administrator account has a blank password, so the first order of business after activating the account is to set a password, preferably a complex password consisting of at least eight characters and using upper case and lower case letters and numbers or special symbols. So, go back to the computer management console, select the administrator account, click more actions under administrator in the actions panel, and select the set password command. Now at this point a warning message will appear explaining that resetting a password from outside the account itself can cause irreversible loss of information. But since the administrator account has never been used, you can just click proceed. Now, when you do, you'll see the set password for administrator dialogue box, and you can type the new password in both text boxes. Now click okay. When you log on the next time you'll see the welcome screen and a user icon for the administrator account. While the method I just showed you works well for Windows 7, what about Vista? And what if you just don't want to do all that clicking in the computer management console? Well, thanks to the net user command, you can activate the administrator account right from the Windows command prompt. First, click start, then all programs, then accessories. Right click on command prompt and select run as administrator. And when you see the UAC prompt, enter an appropriate password. Now type the command net user administrator and then forward slash active, colon, yes and press enter. Close the command prompt window, log off and the administrator account icon should appear on the welcome screen the next time you log on. Now, just like the first method, this one will give the administrator account a blank password, so you'll need to use that when you log on for the first time and then change to something more secure if you plan to leave the account active. If you'd like to deactivate the account, you can also do this from the command line. Just open up another command prompt window with administrative privileges and type net user administrative forward slash and then active, colon, no and then press enter. The administrator account icon should now be hidden. Well, that does it for this episode. I'd like to thank Tech Republic Blogger Greg Schultz, who put together the tip on activating the administrator account through the computer management console, and to Tech Republic member, Calico Wolfe, who added the net user command tip. And, as always, for more teachings on your path to becoming an IT ninja, visit TRDojo.TechRepublic.com or you can follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/BillDetwiler. Thanks for visiting the TR Dojo.
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