Tips for Living Peacefully with Vista's UAC

Yes, those constant UAC prompts are irritating, but there are ways to make them less so.
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Since first writing about the Save Windows XP campaign, the number of petitioners has grown to over 106,000 names (as of March 27). While the campaign continues, it occurred to me that rather than writing about the pros and cons of XP versus Vista, it might be more advantageous to offer Tips for Windows Vista that will help make life easier. Moreover, perhaps I’ll win some over to the “Dark Side” (Vista).

When first Beta testing Windows Vista right from the start there was one feature I loved and hated equally. That was the User Account Control (UAC); the IT Director in me said, “This was genius.” The end-user in me hated being prompted for everything. More importantly, I knew that at home the last thing I wanted was to be asked if I meant to do this or do that. If I clicked on it, that what I wanted to do. I resented being policed as it were by my own computer.

No doubt, many IT professionals and home users felt the same when they first encountered this new “security” feature from Microsoft.

Regardless of how you feel about UAC, it is a base feature of Vista and will probably appear in Windows 7 and beyond, so we must learn to coexist with UAC. There are two options for doing so; the first is to disable UAC all together. However, even for a home user I would not recommend doing that. The point to UAC is ensuring nothing is added to your system without you being aware.

That brings us to our second option making UAC more user-friendly. Ok, UAC will probably never be user- friendly however we can make it tolerable. Here are three tips to help to make it easier to live with UAC.

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It must be noted that these changes will need an Administrative Account in a Domain environment. It should also be noted that these changes do weaken (but they do not) completely disable the UAC security module.

First, try Installing Service Pack 1

With the release of Service Pack 1, one of the items addressed was the number of times UAC prompts the user for permission. For example, UAC would prompt the user for permission four times when renaming or creating a folder in a protected location. This has been reduced to one with SP1 installed.

Overall, there are claims that UAC prompts are lessened with the installation of SP1. However, this is hard to confirm since most people, especially home users, have disabled UAC all together. Still, any decreases are welcomed, so Installing SP1 is certainly the first recommendation.

Log in with a Local Admin Account

If you have one, try using a Local Admin account. This would apply more to the home user, of course.

Nevertheless, there are some situations where a small network, or perhaps areas where less security is needed. This would be ideal for allowing users more freedom.

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Tags: Windows, security, Microsoft, IT, Vista

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