Windows 7 Administrator: Understanding Permissions on Your Computer

windows 7 administratorPermissions are a part of every operating system. In the 1990s, everyone had access to every part of the operating system, but Microsoft soon integrated permissions and roles into its operating system since Windows 2000. The Windows 7 administrator has full control of the local machine, and you can configure your computer how you want using this user name. Understanding how the Administrator and user permissions work help you better manage your desktop and a local network.

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Basic Windows 7 Users and Permissions

When you install the Windows 7 operating system, an administrator is automatically created. Your computer uses the administrator user to configure and create all the necessary Windows settings. The administrator user has the ability to do anything on the computer. You need a user who can configure settings and take ownership of files and folders.

When you set up other users on your computer, these users are basic users with little permissions on the computer. They do not have all of the permissions as the administrator. You create these users when you want to share your desktop, but you don’t want them to install any programs or change important settings. For example, if you share a computer with your kids, you give them a basic user account and then apply parental permissions to your computer. Parental permissions block them from using certain programs and block certain websites from being accessed.

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Sharing Folders and Files

One main reason you want to set permissions and users on your computer is for sharing files and folders. Sharing on a Windows computer has been around since the early days of Windows. Sharing with certain users lets you give access to files and folders over the network and blocking some people from accessing private information.

Sharing is a basic networking technique within networks with minimal security. Typically, if you are using a Windows domain with a server-client architecture, you share files and folders on the server with domain user permissions. Domain users are controlled on a central server. When you don’t have a large network, you have a smaller security concern. Small networks can use basic sharing among computers without the extra added security of a server.

Sharing files and folders is found by right-clicking the folder or file you want to share and selecting “Properties.” If you have a Windows HomeGroup, you can choose “Share With” and a list of options is shown. A Windows HomeGroup makes it easier to share folders, because you don’t need to keep a large list of users. With a HomeGroup, you can share with specific users or a group of users, and these users are always users who are a part of your HomeGroup.

The older style sharing is using the “Sharing” section in the “Properties” window for the file or folder. When you click the “Advanced sharing” button, you have the option to name your share. You can give the folder or file an alias. In other words, the name shown over the network is different than the actual name on your computer. This alias is what shows up when the user browses your computer from another network computer.

When you click the “Share” button, you have a list of users you can share your folder or file with. You also have a list of permission types. The three main permissions are read, write and read and write. The type of permissions you give to a user for a file or folder determines what the user can do with it.

First, the read permission allows a user to read the file content. The user can’t alter or delete any data in the file, but this permission is useful when you need someone to read the file’s content without changing it.

The write permission allows the user to change the file’s content. However, if the user can’t read the content, he can’t change it. This is what read and write access is for. There are some other more advanced user permissions, but these are the basic permissions when dealing with a small, peer-to-peer network in Windows.

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As an administrator, you can take ownership of a file or folder. For instance, if you run a small business and someone leaves the business, current permissions might block you from reading or writing to the user’s files. You can overwrite these permissions by taking ownership of the file or folder.

You can see the current permissions in the “Properties” window. Right-click the file or folder you need to take over and select “Properties.” Click the “Security” tab and then click “Advanced.” Click the “Owner” tab. This tab shows you the current owner of the file or folder. In the “Change owner to” box, you should see the administrator name. If you are an administrator on the computer, you’ll see your own name.

Click the administrator name and click “Apply.” This will change owner to the administrator (or your own name if you are the administrator). This allows you to take ownership, which will give you full permissions on the file or folder. Now, you can transfer, read and edit the file and folder if you need to.

The Windows administrator account gives you full control of the computer, and sometimes you need to run applications as an administrator. A perfect example of this is using the command line. Many command line applications require administrator rights. To run any application as an administrator, find it in the Windows Start menu and then right-click the application icon. Click “Run as administrator.” If you are already an administrator of the machine, you won’t need any login information. If you are not an administrator, you’re prompted for a user name and password.

If you own your own computer, the best way to manage your machine is to make your own user name an administrator. With this type of access, you won’t be blocked from any applications or settings on your computer.