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Published on 03.07.07 by Brent Trahan

Windows Vista User Account Control (UAC) Explained

User Account Control (UAC) explained for regular computer users.


This guide explains what User Account Control (UAC) in Windows Vista is in a nutshell.

What is UAC?

User Account Control (UAC) is a set of tools built into Windows Vista that helps to protect your system from malware, hackers, and yourself.

How does UAC protect my computer?

UAC uses the “least privileges” rule. The least privileges rule has been used for a long time by IT pros in large businesses. All users and software run with the least privileges possible at all times. Any time a user or software needs administrative privileges a consent prompt pops up.


When a consent prompt pops up your screen turns dark and is locked except for the consent prompt which is light and unlocked.

The purpose of the consent prompt is to notify you about an administrative task being attempted. You have to OK the task or cancel it for your screen to unlock. This feature is in place to make sure the user knows when administrative tasks are being done.

What Triggers UAC Consent Prompts?

  • Installing and uninstalling of:
    1. Software
    2. Device drivers
    3. ActiveX controls
    4. Windows Updates
  • Changing settings for:
    1. Windows Firewall
    2. UAC
  • Configuring Windows Update
  • Adding or removing user accounts
  • Changing user account type
  • Configuring Parental Controls
  • Running the Task Scheduler
  • Restoring or backing up of system files
  • Viewing or changing another user’s files and folders
  • Software needing to run with administrative privileges (older software)
  • Software that needs to perform system tasks (defragmenting your hard drive)

Why UAC Is Good

Although UAC consent prompts can be annoying at first, here are a few reasons why UAC is good.

  • You’re in “the know”: Nothing can happen without you knowing that needs administrative approval. This keeps unauthorized changes to your computer.
  • File and registry virtualization: If software needs access to a file or registry location with administrative access UAC creates a virtual location “sandbox” for the software so that no damage can be done to the system.

More Information on UAC

This is only a basic explanation of UAC. For more info on UAC check out these links:

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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