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User Accounts: Password or No Password?

By default, a user account is created with no password. This means the user may sit down locally at the XP machine and log on without entering a password.

However, by default, Windows XP will not permit a network user to access the XP machine using an account set up without a password!

You have two options on how to proceed from here:

  • If you want any degree of security, assign user passwords. This will, however, require the users to log on to their client machines using a password.
  • Many people prefer to set up their Windows 95/98/Me machines using Windows Logon and no password, so the machine boots directly to the Windows desktop without a logon prompt. In this case, you need to make a Security Policy modification on the XP Professional machine to permit users without passwords to connect from the network.

Taking each option in turn:

Adding a Password to a User Account

In Control Panel | User Accounts, click the desired account, and then click Create a password. Enter the password, and then enter it again to confirm it. Enter a password hint if you'd like – a user who forgets the password can look at the hint at the logon screen as a memory aid. Then click Create Password to make it take effect.

In the User Accounts menu in Control Panel, the user account now shows as being Password protected:

The user must now log on to his or her local computer using that password.

Permitting Network Access Without a Password

To allow users to log onto their computers without a password and then access the XP Professional machine without a password, you must make a security policy change:

  1. Go to Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance | Administrative Tools | Local Security Policy.
  2. Expand Local Policies | Security Options.
  3. Double-click Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console login only, which is enabled by default. Disable this option and click OK.

This will permit network access without a password. The user's computer can boot directly to the Windows desktop, and be validated against the corresponding XP Professional user account, without a password.

Note that the term “blank passwords” isn't technically accurate. There's a difference between having a password which consists of one or more blank characters, and having no password at all. This setting actually permits access by users who have no password at all.

Power User Tip: If you want to explore user accounts in the raw:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance | Administrative Tools | Computer Management.
  2. Open the Local Users and Groups folder, and open the Users folder.

_x0000_i1037Here are your user accounts! You can fine-tune their settings from here or create new users using the Action | New User menu option!



XP Pro File Sharing
1. Disable Simple File Sharing
2. Create User Accounts
3. User Account Passwords
4. Create User Groups
5. Create Shares
6. Access Control Lists
7. NTFS Permissions
8. Connecting from Clients
9. Sharing My Documents
10. Q & A
11. Troubleshooting
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