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Create Separate User Accounts on Shared Computers

by Tris Hussey on August 23rd, 2007

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen computers at people’s offices and homes where several people are using a computer, but all under the same account.  I’m not even get into if it’s an admin level account or not, just looking at the overlap, confusion and organization of this drives me batty.

From a practical standpoint you have several people’s logins to manage (like Gmail, Hotmail, etc), documents to keep straight, bookmarks, even just colour preferences of windows.  All of this can be handled with each user having their own login.

What about shared documents?  Simple, I know Windows has cross-account shared areas and since Mac-o-philes say OS X is so much better than Windows, then it must too.

Here at home on the desktop computer, there are separate logins for each of my kids, me, and one for Sims (it has to run as admin … and I don’t want the kids in my account).  All of us have our own private files and bookmarks, desktop backgrounds, and files.  Shared stuff … easy there is a globally shared drive in addition to the Shared Documents folder.

Very simple and my kids really enjoy picking their own desktop pictures (my son has Yoda at the moment).

This week I set up a friend’s computer for her kids.  Each has their own iPod and very distinct musical tastes.  They are also stepping onto each others’ virtual toes with e-mails and files and songs and desktop patterns … again simple solution.

Yeah, well, how does this apply to work?  Well I know from experience sometimes there are shared computers.  Maybe day shift - night shift.  Maybe just a common computer for file transfers or scanning.  Regardless of the use, setting up separate user accounts reduces the problem of files being delete accidentally or maybe a private e-mail becoming public.

Yes, in all these solutions there needs to be at least one admin user who can reset passwords, or lock people out, or just plain get to files as needed.

Take two minutes, set up an account for each user.  You’ll be much happier.   Trust me.

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POSTED IN: Vista, XP, Mac OS X, Windows

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