Understanding the Guest Account

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 25, 2015)

Windows comes with the ability to establish a Guest user account. This account is designed to be used by temporary users who may have a need to use the computer. Normally, the Guest account is used on computers that are placed in publically accessible areas, such as computer labs or conference rooms.

In general, if your computer is not in a public area, you should make sure that the Guest account is disabled so that it cannot be used for log-in. The reason is simple—the Guest account can present a "doorway" that hackers can use to access your system. If you disable the Guest account, then you close that particular door and increase the security of your computer.

You can find out if the Guest account is enabled on your system by following these steps if you are using Windows 7:

  1. Click Start and then click Control Panel. Windows 7 displays the Control Panel.
  2. At the right side of the screen, under the main heading of User Accounts and Family Safety, click Add or Remove User Accounts. Windows 7 displays the Manage Accounts screen. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Manage Accounts screen.

  4. Look through the accounts in the screen until you see the Guest account.

If you are using Windows 8, follow these steps instead:

  1. Display the Control Panel.
  2. At the right side of the screen, click the User Accounts and Family Safety heading.
  3. Click the User Accounts heading.
  4. Click the Manage Another Account link. Windows displays the Manage Accounts screen.
  5. Look through the accounts in the screen until you see the Guest account.

Note that the Guest account, as shown in the Manage Accounts screen, indicates whether the account is turned on or off. You cannot delete the Guest account; all you can do is make sure it is turned off. When you click the Guest account, you are given the option to turn it on or off; you should simply make sure it is off unless you have a compelling reason to have it turned on.

 This tip (10715) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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