User Account Control (UAC)

When reading articles online about solving problems related to programs not starting, not installing correctly or other similar problems, there is almost someone mentioning UAC.
Most of the answers to the problem says to turn of the UAC and see if that helps, but do you know what UAC does, more than showing you an “annoying message box”?
I can agree to a certain point that disabling the UAC will solve a lot of problems, but still, it does fill a function when it comes to safety.

Let’s start with opening the control panel for UAC. Click on start and type UAC, and you will see one result called: “Change User Account Control settings”. When you click on this you will be presented with the following window:

Click to enlarge

With a new installation of Windows 7, Default is automatically selected for you, giving you the best protection, with the least questions. I personally recommend using the default setting if you do not have other software protecting you. (Most antivirus software will not notify you of changes made to your system).

Okay, let us start from the top with Always notify. As it says, it will always notify you when software is being installed, a program tries to make changes to your system or even if you try to make changes.

The step bellow is the Default, now you will only be notified if a program tries to make changes, for example if you install a new software. But not if you are the one making changes. So let’s say you have gotten a virus on your computer that tries to make some changes, adding new files for example, with the default setting you will be notified that a program tries to do something and you are able to see if it’s something you will permit or not. So it can pickup unwanted software trying to make changes!

Another step down we have the exact same as “Default”, but it will not dim your desktop. This is perfect if you are annoyed with the desktop getting dark and locked or if you are using an older computer that takes longer time on it self to dim the desktop.

The last setting is “Never notify”. When this setting is selected, you will never be notified by the UAC. This means that a software can be installed anytime with out your knowledge.

The recommended setting for home users is Default according to Microsoft. The only time I would recommend using “Always notify” is if you are installing applications from unknown sources, for example demo versions of software that you have downloaded or if you are browsing the internet, visiting websites that you normally don’t.

The only time I use “Never notify” is on my test machines, where I use programs that are not compatible with Windows 7. These computers are not connected to my network so if they get infected, it will be isolated to that computer and not the others.

So, to sum it up, disabling the UAC can help you with software issues, but when the application is installed, make sure you enable it again to keep your computer safe. The UAC can not protect your system alone though, you will still need an antivirus software.

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