Administrator and user mode in Windows XP

October 2016

Windows operating systems can be operated in both administrative and user modes. In the administrative mode, there are no restrictions on operations or commands executed on the system. The user mode has limited resources with restrictions on allowed operations and limited permissions for execution of certain commands. In Windows XP, the administrator account is the default account. It is, however, recommended to open an account in user mode to protect the system. Working with a Windows user account would limit access to the system's resources and protect it from unintended corruption. As systems are connected to the internet at all times, a user account with limited access will prevent damage from intruders and hackers who can gain control over the system.


Administrator account is always set as default in Windows Operating systems. This article will explain the difference between the administrator and user modes and when you should use one over the other.

User mode

Nowadays PCs are permanently connected to the net. A virus, Trojan horse or a human error can give complete control to an intruder despite being protected.

The hacker, as administrator, will have full powers on your machine compared to the limited power a normal user is given. This means that it is safer to browse the internet while logged in as a user, just in case something goes wrong.

You will always have to option to switch to administrator mode if you need any of the associated privileges, such as the power to install new software. To do this:
  • Open the Start menu and click on Switch User
  • Sign into your Administrator account

Browsing safely

Administrator mode gives the user total power over the machine, which is useful for changing the PC's settings or installing software. However, this means there is additional risk if the machine becomes compromised.

For this reason you may want to create a user account that does not have administrative privileges for the purpose of browsing the internet. However, this is not easy to do in Windows XP Home. Fortunately there are alternative solutions available:

You will need to create a new account. However, since this account will have administrative privileges by default, you will need to set it up in such a way that it is protected in the event of a virus or other intrusion:
  • In the new account, reset all your options manually (Bookmarks Firefox, Internet Explorer Favorites, options and software programs etc.)
  • Install a program that allows you to surf the net safely from an Administrator account by retaining the protection of a user account
  • Install it at the root of your system disk in a folder called DropMyRights
  • Create a shortcut on your desktop and select DropMyRights.exe as the target application, followed by the path of the application you want to run with reduced privileges.
    • For example: C: \ DropMyRights \ DropMyRights.exe "c: \ program files \ Mozilla Firefox \ firefox.exe"
  • This shortcut will now open the program you directed it to (in this case Firefox) but with limited privileges.
  • Leave the value N installed by default
  • You can repeat this process with any other programs you wish, such as other browsers

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