How To

How to Setup Your Home Computer for Multiple Users

If you have a Windows PC in your home that is shared by multiple people, the best way to securely configure it is by creating separate accounts for each person. It isn’t difficult, and doing it will prevent your kids or anyone else from accessing or inadvertently deleting files and folders with critical data, like tax returns and other important or sensitive personal information. Using Windows features to simply hide these files and folders is not sufficient if everyone is using the same login account with the same access privileges. Anyone could simply un-check a box to make hidden files visible again. Separate accounts will also prevent other users from accessing your online accounts that use saved login credentials. One account option even includes free online security tools and parental controls.

When creating new accounts, you have two types to choose from

When you set up separate user accounts in Windows 10, you are given two options. You’ll need to choose between an account that offers parental controls for younger family members and a generic type of account. You can, of course, use the more generic “other users” option to set up accounts for family members if you don’t need the parental control options offered with family member accounts. These generic accounts can be created without each user being required to have a free Microsoft account and you will not need to enter an email address or cell phone number to create one. If you choose to create a family member type of account, you’ll be required to create Microsoft accounts for each family member if they don’t already have one. The process for creating family member accounts takes a bit longer. Regardless of which option you choose, the user will be able to log onto the computer, use the installed applications, and get online.

The additional parental control options with family member accounts include online security controls that help keep kids safe. Once they have their own Microsoft accounts, you can use them to apply these controls not only on the PC but also on Xbox and Android devices that run the free Microsoft Family Safety app. You’ll have the ability to receive reports regarding your kids’ activities, set limits on how much time they can spend using a device, get their locations, and restrict access to specific websites and games. You can set up a family group at family.microsoft.com, where you’ll also find more information, help links, and a short video.

If your kids are of an age where you don’t need to monitor and restrict their activities or if you’re creating accounts for other adults in your household, the “other users” account type is probably the right choice. Less personal information is required to create these accounts.

Creating separate user accounts in Windows 10

To get started creating a new user account, type “add, edit, or remove other users” in the search box at the bottom left of your screen. Click on the option to do so when it appears in the search results. When the window opens, you’ll see options to either add family members or other users.

If you choose to create a family member account, you’ll be taken through the process to do so, beginning with creating Microsoft accounts for each user you wish to add. Creating the more basic “other user” account begins with selecting the “Add someone else to this PC” option. You’ll be prompted to enter the new user’s email address or phone number. You are not required to do this to set up the account. Just click the “I don’t have this person’s sign-in information” option. You will be prompted again to either use a phone number or to get a new email address for the user you’re adding. Click the third option to “add a user without a Microsoft account.” At this point, you’ve finally made it to the account setup prompt. Enter the name you selected for the new user account, then create and confirm a password. Select and answer three security questions, click “Finish,” and you’ll see the new account appear in the “Other users” section of the Settings app window.

Now you can log out, then log in using the new account to test it. Notice that you have a new desktop configuration. Also note that your personal folders and files created using your account are not accessible using this new account. Try the browser and, after any required setup is completed, you should find that the new account has Internet access.

If you ever have occasion to allow others who may not be part of your household to use your PC, you could also create a generic account, perhaps with a name like “guest.”

Summary

Windows 10 provides tools and options to create family user accounts and other accounts, each with different capabilities and features. Parents can use family member accounts if they want to take advantage of controls and monitoring capabilities that help keep their kids safe online. If your additional users don’t require that level of supervision, a simple “other user” account will probably suffice. Either way, your sensitive data will be inaccessible to these added users, thus there is no danger of it being viewed, deleted, or modified while they are logged in.

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