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
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.
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
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:
- Go to Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance
| Administrative Tools | Local Security Policy.
- Expand Local Policies | Security Options.
- 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
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:
- Click Start | Control Panel | Performance
and Maintenance | Administrative Tools | Computer
- Open the Local Users and Groups folder, and open the
are your user accounts! You can fine-tune their settings from here
or create new users using the Action | New User menu