How to Check Whether Your Account is a Local Admin Account in Windows 7
Windows 7 uses a technology called User Access Control to protect your computer from unauthorized software from installing and wreaking havoc with your computer. All security comes with some level of inconvenience – this is the part of the operating system that pops up with a dialog asking if you will allow a program to make changes to your computer.
To get this dialog, you must be using an administrator account on your own computer. Otherwise, the software will either not prompt you at all (and not run) or it will say “to run this software, you must be a local administrator”, or something to that effect. By default, you will not be using the built in account called “Administrator”, but you should be using an account that is a member of the “Administrator” group on your computer. For example, the account name I use to log in on my computer is “Mike”, and I am a member of the Administrators group. This allows me to make any changes and install any software I need to install. If you are having a problem installing software and you think it has to do with whether you are a local admin, follow these steps to find out.
Click on the start menu and select Control Panel.
In the control Panel, Select User Accounts and Family Safety.
Then select Add or Remove User Accounts
This will open up the User Account Manager in Windows 7. Find the account you use to log in – if you are the only user on the computer, then it will probably be the first one listed if there is more than one. If the word “Administrator” appears below your name, then you are a local Administrator. If this is the case and you are getting errors telling you that you are not a local Admin, there is something wrong with your computer’s operating system and you should seek professional assistance. This situation is often caused by a virus or malware – even if the malware has been removed, it may have done damage while it was on your computer.
However, if it says “Standard User” under your name, then the message you are seeing is accurate – you are not an administrator on the local computer. If your computer is part of a Corporate Network and you log into an Active Directory Domain when you start up, then you’ll have to talk to the company’s network administrator to allow your account to install or run the software. If your computer is not part of a corporate network, you are going to have to gain access to a local administrator account, even if it’s just to give the appropriate permissions to your daily use account. If you set the computer up yourself, then this shouldn’t happen. However, if the computer was set up for you by a tech, it’s possible that they gave you a standard user account for regular computer use. In this case, they should have also given you information about an Administrator account as well that you can use to make changes to the system. The account may be called “Administrator” (the built-in admin account), but it could be under any name. If you don’t remember getting information about a second account from the person or company that set it up for you, then you will need to contact them for the information.
By design, if you do not have this information, it’s going to be impossible to make significant changes to your computer, including installing new software, and maybe even updating existing software. Security is a double-edged sword – if it’s doing it’s job, it’s not going to let anyone make changes to the system if they don’t have the correct information, including you. If you do not have access to an administrator account, or if you don’t remember the username and password and you are unable to obtain it, there’s not much you can do. Someone skilled at hacking may be able to circumvent the security if a weak password was used (which shouldn’t be the case). If it was set up properly, however – with a strong password – then there is nothing you can do to correct the problem except to re-install the operating system and start from scratch. You can scour the Internet for ways to try to get access to Admin functions on your computer without reinstalling, or you can save some time and take my word for it – Windows 7 (and to an even greater extent Windows 8) is secure – at least in this respect. If a strong password was used, you won’t gain access to the admin account without the information no matter what you try. I’ve already wasted countless hours trying so you don’t have to. This wasn’t always the case. In Vista and prior operating systems – even those that claimed C2 level security like Windows NT and Windows 2000, there were ways to get around security on the operating system if you had physical access to the computer. It certainly wasn’t easy in some cases, but there was a variety of possible ways to gain Admin access.
There are and always will be vulnerabilities in current operating systems that will open the door to malicious behavior (which is why you receive so many “security updates”), but the days of strolling in a back door with complete admin access are essentially over starting with Windows 7. So if you don’t have admin access and you should, and you don’t have a way to obtain (from memory, notes, or another person) the login information for an Admin account on your computer, you can take some solace in the fact that there is nothing you can do about it other than re-installing Windows. It’s certainly not good news, but if you’re like me, you won’t stress about something over which you know you have no control. And getting a fresh start on your computer isn’t all bad. Like just about everyone, I’ve lost things that are important to me because of computer mishaps and it can be devastating. And I won’t even go as far to say that “every cloud has a silver lining” because it’s not quite that good. But knowing what you know now, a fresh start with the proper knowledge going forward will give you peace of mind that you couldn’t have had up until this point. Embrace it.