In article Windows XP Local Users and Groups, Beth Peacock asked a number of quick questions. Unfortunately, the answers weren’t so easy.
One of the questions was:
My password is saved on my pc, so I don’t have to key
it in every time. How can I make access by anyone else impossible?
In this case, Beth’s actions and her goal are diametrically opposed. The password is the tool to keep anyone else from being able to use her machine.
Windows XP uses the password as its access control in allowing a user to log into Windows. If you don’t use a password for your ID in Windows, anyone trying to log into your machine using your account will be able to do so.
That might happen when a child starts or reboots the computer. Without a password or a substitute control (like a fingerprint reader), anyone booting the computer will start up Windows just as you do.
Another place that a lack of a password can hurt is on Windows File & Printer Sharing, which uses user ID’s and passwords to control who gets to access files and printers.
If you have the Guest User turned off, anyone who does not have a user ID and password on your computer that matches the user ID and password they’re using on their computer, won’t be able to access your files or printer. If you turn the Guest user account on, they can access the printer as Guest, regardless of what user ID and password they’re using.
Protection from the network side of the computer needs to include two major items. First, if you are using anything other than a dialup account (not that it’s not needed for dialup, it just doesn’t work with dialup!), you need a router to isolate your computer from access initiated from the Internet. If someone can’t get to your computer, they can’t access it.
Second, you need a good two-way firewall program. A two-way firewall will block or control access to your computer that originates on another computer. It will also block or control access by programs running on your computer when they try to talk to the Internet or another computer on a home network.
That way, if your computer gets compromised by adware, spyware, a worm or other malware, the firewall program will help prevent the problem from getting worse.
Beth’s final questions were about memory. She reported that "total physical memory is 261,616KB.". I’ve written about the need for more memory the last couple of weeks. Beth’s computer is another example.
She’s only got 256MB (261,616KB) of RAM and is running Windows XP Professional. She would see a tremendous improvement in system performance if she increases to 512MB, 768MB or 1GB of RAM.