What is the difference between standard and administrator accounts in Windows?

A user account in Windows contains important user information, and creating multiple accounts is a great way to divide a PC among multiple users. There are generally two types of user accounts in Windows: standard accounts and administrator accounts.

But how are these accounts different and which one is best for you? In this article, we will look at the main differences between a standard account and an administrator account.

What is the difference between standard and administrator accounts in Windows?

In Windows, your user account type determines what actions you can take on your computer. A standard user account is designed for everyday computing. You can’t do any complicated system tweaks with it, but you can still perform everyday tasks without a problem. You can watch your favorite TV series, download files from the Internet, make and edit slideshows, edit videos, and much more.

However, with a standard account, you have to deal with User Account Control (UAC) when performing tasks like installing apps, editing the registry, or anything that requires elevated rights. When the UAC prompt appears, standard user accounts must enter the administrator account credentials to continue.

An administrator account is similar to a standard account but with some additional privileges. These privileges allow you to manage system files or do anything without confirmation.

With an administrator account, you can also access all those files that other users have on the same computer. But on the contrary, you cannot do it with a standard account, and you only access those files that are publicly available.

Another important difference between these two account types is that you cannot make any major changes as a standard account user. Features such as password management and user account creation are only limited to administrator accounts.

Why use a standard user account instead of an administrator account?

So what’s the point of having a standard account when you’re limited to certain features and can’t even make major changes to the system? There is a very good reason for setting up a standard user account over an administrator user account: security.

An administrator account offers full control of the system; therefore, you have the right to make changes to a computer. These changes can be for the better, like security updates, or for the worse, like making unauthorized changes. As such, giving everyone administrator rights on a computer is not a great idea.

For example, if you set up a family PC where everyone has administrator access, you hope no one messes with sensitive system files like Registry Editor. This goes double for younger users, who may delete important data from the system by accident or due to a fake tutorial on the Internet.

Administrator accounts are also a big target for hackers. When malicious attackers try to compromise a computer, they seek to gain administrator access. If someone on the PC with administrator rights downloads an infected file, she can cause much more damage than if she downloaded it on a standard account.

In a nutshell, security and privacy are among the most important reasons why you should always use a standard account instead of an administrator account.

How to change your user account type

Now that you know the difference between a standard account and a manager account, let’s see how you can easily switch between these two account types.

You can change the account type in Windows in several ways, but using the Control Panel or the Settings panel are two of the preferred methods.

How to change account type using control panel

To change the Windows account type using Control Panel, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Control Panel and change the View by write to Category.
  2. Click Change account type.
  3. Select the user account and then click the Change account type option.
  4. Choose between standand Y administrator account.
  5. Click Change account type.

How to change the account type using the settings panel

Follow the instructions below to change your account type using the Settings menu.

  1. Open Settings and navigate to accounts > Other users.
  2. Click the dropdown icon next to the user account and select the Change account type button.
  3. Choose the Account type.
  4. Click IT’S OKAY.

How can standard users run programs with administrative privileges?

As mentioned above, standard user accounts do not have the power to install new apps or access the registry. But sometimes, you may come across situations where you need to allow a standard user to run an application with administrator privileges. The solution, in this case, is to create a shortcut for the target application to run with elevated privileges without prompting for any admin password.

To create a shortcut that allows standard users to run programs with administrator rights, follow the instructions below.

  1. Right click on the desktop, click New, and choose Shortcut from the context menu.
  2. In the space provided, type the following command. Replace system name with the name of your Windows computer and Path with the full path of the application you want to run.
    runas /user:SystemName\Administrator /savecred Path
  3. For example, if your computer name is Use and you want to run asanathe above code will look like this:
    runas /user:MakeUseOF\Administrator /savecred C:\Users\krama\AppData\Local\Asana\Asana.exe
  4. Click on Next, and give the shortcut a name in the next window.
  5. Click To finalize.

That is all. The first time you try to open the shortcut, you will need to enter the administrator login credential. But after that, the password will be saved in Windows Credential Manager.

Now even a standard user account can access the shortcut and run it as administrator without entering the administrator password.

Everything you need to know about Windows user accounts

Now you know all about the two types of user accounts available in Windows. And while we’ve mentioned it several times, it’s crucial to emphasize: unless there’s no serious need for a Windows administrator account, don’t use it.

In the meantime, you may also be interested in customizing your user account.

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