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Windows 7: User Accounts, passwords and security of personal files

17 Jan 2016   #1
Snookie

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 
User Accounts, passwords and security of personal files

I am the sole user of a Windows 7 Home Premium PC and have an Administrators User Account, which is password protected as a security measure just in case of theft.

I note that when the PC boots up nobody will be able to do much without knowing my password. This means that should I have a problem that means my PC is taken away to be fixed I would have to give my password AND therefore access to all my files to the technician.

Is it possible to set up another User Account, which would allow a technician to work on my PC, yet not give them access to my User Files?

If so please could somebody tell me how to do it?


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17 Jan 2016   #2
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

The only option I can imagine is to use some form of encryption on the files that you don't want the technician to read.

Presumably, if your computer needs repair, the technician will need full administrator access almost by definition. So what you're asking is a contradiction in terms. A bit like if you went to the doctor's, but refused to undress. Just my take.

But let's wait for other opinions on this.
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17 Jan 2016   #3
Snookie

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

I did rather wonder .....
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17 Jan 2016   #4
Seffrid

Windows 7 Home Premium 64
 
 

Have you considered keeping your sensitive files on an external drive or USB stick rather than on the main drive? That way they wouldn't be taken to the technician in the first place.
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17 Jan 2016   #5
wasnotwas

W10 Pro x64, W7 Pro x64 in VMware
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Snookie View Post
I am the sole user of a Windows 7 Home Premium PC and have an Administrators User Account, which is password protected as a security measure just in case of theft.

I note that when the PC boots up nobody will be able to do much without knowing my password.
Just a heads up re passwords and theft - it is very easy to bypass a Windows password, so your private docs are not safe in the event your pc is stolen.

A few years ago, I used to repair computers for friends, neighbors etc - just to make a few £££. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to call the owner for the password. They were used to typing it, but found it hard to speak it over the phone (or even remember it correctly) - upper/lower case, amusingly misspelled words, 4 for an 'A' etc.

Eventually I had to tell folk 'if this laptop has a password, it's going straight in the skip'.

[ UK skip = US dumpster ]
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2016   #6
paul1149

Linux Lite 2.8 x64 (full-featured, fast, rock-solid)
 
 

1. The windows password is easily broken

2. It's easy to create another administrative account at control panel / user accounts, and not give it a password, or give it a password that you share with the technician. But that account is equal in authority to your main account, therefore anything can be done from it, including invoking the account with highest privileges, the Administrator account.

So there is no way to give administrative access to the machine without endangering your raw data. You would have to encrypt your data so that even when accessed it could not be read, or keep it in a separate remote location such as a second, removable drive, an external drive, a network drive or the cloud.
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17 Jan 2016   #7
Snookie

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

Thank you for suggesting the external drive Seffrid & Paul1149 That seems the best option.

A thought .... if the Windows Password is that easily broken or bypassed wasnotwas.... despite being very long ..... couldn't the Tech do that?
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17 Jan 2016   #8
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

Okay I'm lost. You have a PC which to me means a desktop.
If someone breaks in and carries off a desktop you got big problems.
I agree a external drive for storage on a external drive would be my choice.
The next choice would be where to hide the external so a thief can't find it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jan 2016   #9
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Snookie View Post
A thought .... if the Windows Password is that easily broken or bypassed wasnotwas.... despite being very long ..... couldn't the Tech do that?
Of course he could.

Windows accounts passwords offer a low level of security. They are meant to keep away family members or co-workers -- and, up to a point, rogue software. Think of them as a door with a padlock separating your garden from your neighbour's. The assumption is : although your neighbour might be tempted to wander around your premises if they were wide open, he's not an evil man intent on harming you. A burglar, however, would have no trouble at all breaking your padlock with a grinder, crowbar or whatever.

Ditto for Windows passwords. Although I've never used them and I'm not aware of their particulars, my understanding is that there are plenty of software around able to reset one's Windows password. Even though they are not condoned by Microsoft, they have legitimate uses : for instance, if you've forgotten your password, the password hint does not help you, and you haven't made a password recovery flash drive as is the recommended procedure.

I'm not aware of the legal or ethical aspects of the issue, and I don't know what the computer technicians' practice actually is, but technically speaking, yes ; it's perfectly conceivable that a provider of computer assistance, on receipt of a locked PC he's asked to repair, would reset the password with one of those tools, on the assumption that hey, you voluntarily left your computer with me, asking me to bring it back to life, so of course I had to reset your password, now here is your PC back in working order, with no harm done, all you have to do is to set a new password and off you go. Now it's £ xxx please, thank you very much.

If you chose to go the external hard disk option, bear in mind that encryption would still be a good idea. External disks are small, easily lost or stolen. Think how uncomfortable you would be if someone, anyone, could lay their hands on all the files you have in there.

However practical external disks may be (and they have a lot of advantages), I don't think you should contemplate putting all your data there and not on an internal disk at all, planning on the very elusive possibility that some day, you might need to leave your PC for repair somewhere.

External disks are better suited to backups, they are a useful part of a sound policy of data safety. But if you had to put your data exclusively on an external disk, for everyday access, there'd be several drawbacks ; first of all slowness, because it would be likely accessed through USB 2.0 or 3.0.

E-SATA external connectors and rackable disks do exist, but I'm not sure this is a practical solution.

Same thing about online storage. By all means do take advantage of it, but don't rely exclusively on it, not even for backup -- and certainly not for the main and only repository of your data. Online means you're not in control.

Also, you'd have to think why you should even need to leave your kit with a computer technician some day. The best strategy is to make sure you don't have to. And that is achieved through backup.

You can recover from the worst computer disasters if you have good backup. Practice with a good imaging and backup software such as Macrium Reflect (there's a free version, but buying the full version might be one of your best tech investments).

Have always at hand more than one copy of a recent image of your system. Keep also more than one recent copy of your data if it is on a different partition or internal disk. In order to restore your system, you need an image. In order to restore your data, you could use an image, or a folder-and-files backup. Macrium Reflect does both. Both have their advantages. Practice both.

Of course, you'll put those backups on an external disk. Or on more than one external disk. Or on a NAS. Or on an external disk and in the cloud. Remember : if you only have one backup, you don't have any backup. If the backups you have are all in the same place and they can be lost, stolen or destroyed in a fire, you don't have any backup.

And backups can easily be encrypted. As a matter of fact, they should. They include all your computer life. Macrium Reflect does that, also. I mention Macrium because it's one of the most reliable and reputable solutions around, and because I use it, but there are plenty of others.

Happy computing .
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jan 2016   #10
Snookie

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
 
 

Appreciate your in detailed post Clairvaux

Will certainly take a look at Macrium Reflect. Tried Acronis but it was so complicated I got totally confused, then an update completely messed it up
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 User Accounts, passwords and security of personal files




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