How do you use your home computer when there are multiple different family members who all share a single computer?

Jul 01, 2011

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Microsoft has made it very easy to setup multiple user accounts so that each family member can have their own login yet many shared computers remain configured with a single account. In my house we have about ten different users who routinely use our home computer.  There's my wife, our four kids, me, and about 4 of my kids' friends. In addition there's the occasional houseguest who wants to use the computer to check their email or do some online shopping or book a flight back home.  So, do we create a separate Windows account for each person? Would it be better to have fewer accounts (maybe something like “Parents, “Kids, “Guests)? Or does it make sense to just have a single Windows account that everybody shares?

Here are some of the things that I've noticed regarding one Windows login vs. multiple Windows logins:

  1. My kids like to customize their desktop. Having a separate desktop for each child allows them some creative freedom to adjust their settings to suit their own preferences. When we had the computer set to a single Windows account shared by all they would fight over things like the Windows wallpaper, or fonts, or various other Windows settings.
  2. The older kids have media devices that they attach to the computer. Having a single account made it difficult for them to manage their media collections.
  3. Having a single desktop meant (for the most part) that everyone had the same rights. This increased the likelihood of the computer becoming infected with malware since the kids might indiscriminately click on any and all links they see.
  4. When someone sits down at the computer, they will use whatever desktop it's currently at. Often they neglect to log out of Windows so in many cases they end up using someone else's desktop. At one point I had configured the computer to automatically log-off after a period of inactivity but I've since abandoned that because it would occasionally lose documents they were working on. I still haven't found a good solution for this problem.

Now, of course, if there is only one user of the computer these issues all go away. But, for a shared computer there is a decision to be made — 1 account for every user, 1 account for each type of user, or a single shared account for everyone. No matter which option you find works best for you, Net Nanny has a corresponding setting that is appropriate.

Net Nanny recognizes that everyone's circumstances are different and can accommodate various use cases. Just like deciding how to manage your Windows accounts you will need to decide how you want to manage your Net Nanny accounts. If you want to be able to track and report on every user individually you will need to setup a Net Nanny user account for every computer user (this is effective even if you use a single shared Windows account). If tracking and reporting on each user is not as important to you then you might find it easier to go with a single Net Nanny user — however, with this model you would not be able to tell who got blocked only that someone got blocked.

So, the bottom line here is that no matter what model you choose, Net Nanny has settings that should work well with your Windows settings. If you need help deciding how to set up Net Nanny to best suit your specific requirements, give our support specialists a call and they can help you through the process.

Tell us about you experience. Do you use a single Windows account or separate accounts for each user?