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User Access Control (UAC)

Understanding UAC and how to eliminate UAC


User Access Control (UAC) was intended to prevent viruses and malware from installing software without your knowledge. When active, UAC prompts you when installing software or changing system information. It first appeared in Vista, and has been slightly modified in newer versions such as Windows 7.

While promoted as an important security feature, we feel it's implementation is so poor, that it provides very little additional security while being quite annoying. You get prompted many times each day so your desired action can proceed. After this occurs a few hundred times, users are conditioned to just say "Continue" to get their work done. Should a real threat occur, most the users will not even read the vague UAC message and will automatically select "Continue", completely defeating the purpose of UAC.

Internet Explorer 8 includes an optional protected mode to isolate each browser window into a protected environment that, in theory, would reduce attack vectors through a bad site. We have to wonder why IE even allows attack vectors through in the first place, but that's another story! We think this is a nice feature, but operation is not automatic and unfortunately, Microsoft tied this into UAC. Protected mode is disabled if you turn off UAC. Of course if you use another browser other than IE8, this is not important.

In all, even if you use IE8, we recommend disabling UAC as it's well recognized as the single most annoying "feature" of Windows Vista and Windows 7. We hope in a future version of Windows Microsoft will have a solution that identifies real threats and avoids the 99.99% false positives.

  Sample Dialog  
User Access Control (UAC) screen shot
Dialog may appear differently depending on Windows style options and where it occurs.
  Key Facts  
  Windows Vista, 7
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Turn Off User Access Control
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Turning off User Access Control (UAC) and retrying the operation can often correct problems. To tun off UAC select Start, Control Panel and User Accounts and Family Safety, User Accounts.

For Windows 7:

Select Change User Account Control settings. If UAC prompts you, select Continue.

Move the slider down to Never notify. Click OK. You will have to restart to have the change take effect.

For Vista:

Select Turn User Account Control on or off. If UAC prompts you, select Continue.

Un-check the User User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer item and select OK.


For both Windows versions, after OK, it will indicate a Restart is required (if the state changed). Select Restart Now if there is nothing open to save. If you need to save work you have open, select Restart Later, save the open items and then Restart.

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  FaultWire Staff
Posted: 25-Jan-2010
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  Microsoft Corporation (more info...)

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Last update: 26-Jan-2010 3:21 pm