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User Account Control (UAC) Explained

What is User Account Control (UAC)?

User Account Control (UAC) is technology and security infrastructure introduced with Windows Vista and perfected in Windows 7 that’s used to protect your computer from viruses and spyware (malware).

How does User Account Control (UAC) work?

UAC protects your computer from malware compromising it and limiting what the malware can do.

When you’re logged on and UAC is configured with its default configuration your user account always runs with non-admin privileges (even if your account has administrator privileges). When you run a program or change settings that require admin privileges UAC steps in and asks you if it’s OK to pass your admin privileges along with a UAC prompt.

UAC stops malware that tries to secretly install itself in the background in it’s tracks. When the malware tries to install a UAC prompt will appear (shown above) asking you for permission.

Why should I use User Account Control (UAC)?

Back in the old days of Windows XP and earlier when you were logged in as a user with administrative privileges malware could easily use your administrative privileges to install itself in the background without you knowing it.

UAC gives you a fighting chance by forcing the malware to ask for permission before it can install itself on your computer.

Do I still need Antivirus software since I’m using User Account Control (UAC)?

Yes. User Account Control is not going to prevent all malware. Antivirus software is HIGHLY recommended. I suggest Microsoft Security Essentials [1]. It’s free, made by Microsoft, light on computer resources, and very good.

Tweaking User Account Control (UAC)

Although UAC works perfectly out of the box for most people it can be tweaked for special circumstances.

Warning: Only tweak UAC if you truly understand what you’re doing.

Disabling User Account Control (UAC)

Just so you know, disabling UAC is a really bad idea and I don’t suggest it. Here’s how to Disable User Account Control (UAC) in Windows 7 [24].