I have a very straightforward question. Is there any downside to logging in as an administrator all the time in windows 7?

I mean, it asks you whenever a program asks for permission to do something as an admin so how is this any less secure than logging in as a regular user.

One shortfall I see is that as an admin it does not ask for your password each time this occurs so in theory malicious programs could click the "allow" but for you. But supposedly the dimming of the screen prevents other programs from running. Whereas if you are required to input a password at least the malicious program would have to have this.

Anyway the question comes down to, name vulnerabilities of logging in to windows 7 as an administrator vs as a standard user. Especially with the UAC features that have been added.


The dangers are the same with logging in as root in any system.

Suppose a malware has found a way to bypass UAC, what can it do? If you're logged in as administrator/root pretty much everything it could ever want to do can be done.

On the other hand if you're logged in with a normal user all it can do is corrupt/infect the users files in the users home and everything else will get denied unless it provides the administrator password.

  • I assume all that you said still applies and is a bad thing even if I am the only user of my system.
    – John
    Mar 23 '14 at 15:05
  • Yes it does the first user is always the administrator(at least on windows linux is another story), I recommend creating a new regular user and transferring all your files from the admin.
    – user36976
    Mar 23 '14 at 17:33

If UAC is enabled, all the programs run with the same permissions as a normal user.

A process only runs as admin when:

  • You approved UAC.
  • Changing Windows settings with the UAC shield next to them (it doesn't ask for confirmation on an admin account, depending on your UAC settings).
  • You invoke the runas command and typed your password.
  • You checked "Run as administrator" in the run prompt on Windows 8's task manager (it doesn't ask for confirmation on an admin account, depending on your UAC settings).
  • You clicked on "Continue" when a file manipulation requires administrator rights to continue (it doesn't ask for confirmation on an admin account, depending on your UAC settings).
  • The app asked for your password (Doesn't looks good at first, but some apps legitimately use it, like TeamViewer when it updates)

These are the legitimate ways. A virus can gain admin by doing a buffer overflow to a program running as admin, modify the EIP so it points to itself and then the malware also has admin rights. This can also happen in a normal user session when you run a program as admin with UAC enabled.

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