Data Doctors: Computer security starts with the Control Panel - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctors: Computer security starts with the Control Panel

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Posted: Monday, February 6, 2006 10:39 am | Updated: 2:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: From time to time I get this message when I shut off my computer, “Other people are logged on to this computer, shutting down may cause them to lose data . . . Do you want to continue?” I always say yes, as I am the only one who uses my computer.

My wife has her own, we have no kids, no pets. So no one else ever uses my computer in this house. Is someone accessing and using my computer despite my security measures? — Dave

A: Windows XP has a feature that allows every member of the family to have his or her own “virtual” system through the use of User Profiles (Example: Mom, Dad, Kids, Pets, etc.) This allows them to keep their files and preferences separate and use a feature called Fast-User Switching to easily switch to another user.

Depending on how your computer is set up for startup, you may be presented with a welcome screen that wants you to choose a profile in order to proceed.

If you have only one profile, your system will either ask for a password for that profile or just open up the Windows Desktop if there is no password.

The idea behind Fast-User Switching (Start/Log Off/ Switch User) is that once you open a profile, you can switch to another profile without losing everything that is open in the original profile.

When you switch back, your open files and programs will be in the same place. This eliminates the need to save all your files and close all your programs in order for someone else to use their Profile.

There are a number of possibilities that could be causing the warning in your

case including: a) if you try to shut down Windows while another profile is still open; b) if you are on a home or business network and others are accessing your files; or c) if you have a wireless network that is not secure and a neighbor or “drive-by hacker” is connected to your system.

Based on your description, it does not sound like another profile would be open, so we can likely eliminate that possibility. If your wife’s computer can connect to yours, it may be the cause of the error, so try shutting her computer down first. Then shut yours down to see if the warning goes away. If you don’t need to share files or printers with anyone else on your network, you can disable this option to play it safe.

Open Control Panel>Network Connections, then double-click on your Local Area Connection and then click the properties button. Remove the check mark from the box in front of “File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.”

If you have a wireless network and have not activated the encryption, I would highly recommend that you do. It’s usually referred to as WEP or WAP.

If after all of these steps you are still getting the warning, you have likely installed a program or utility that is opening system files that are not associated with your Profile, so you won’t have to worry.

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