Can WinXP SP2 be used with only an Administrator account?

Posted on 2009-02-10
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I had a crash and did a full install of WinXP SP2.  I work alone at home, security is not an issue, hence, I usually set up the install without passwords for Administrator and for the 1 user I am forced to create, I entered Bernard.  I later run control userpasswords2 to make sure Windows goes straight to the desktop.

But in past installs, Windows has always chosen Bernard, the 1 user with Administrator privileges, to be the default user who is logged straight to the desktop.  Therefore, I was sure this was the case also this time and I proceeded with a full day of complex installs, settings etc.  To my dismay, I found out that I had done all the work while Administrator was logged in repeatedly by default, while Bernard remained in the primitive state as right after the install without icons, the default wallpaper and nothing.

1)  I would first like to understand what I must have done, so that in this install the Administrator account is not only suddenly visible, but became the auto-logon account in such a subtle fashion that I did not even notice it  please, answer that first, because without that full understanding, I am not sure that I have control over this for future installs.  Conversely, I may like for a strict development PC the structure of 1 Administrator and nothing else  but only if the file structure and the ramifications for finding and backing up all those files is the same as was always the case with the 1 user WinXP Pro forced you to create.

I tried a lot of things  I could not copy the profile from Administrator to Bernard, because the Copy To option was grayed out.

I worry about the file structure from all the reviews and posts I read:  The Control Panel  User Accounts applet is very primitive and does not even give me the option to delete the Bernard account, which has administrator privileges, even while I am logged on as Administrator.  Therefore, if I step this up and go into Computer Management  Local Users and Groups  Users  I am not sure from the horror stories what is true and what is not:  Will deleting the user Bernard even be permitted?  Or will WinXP Pro insist on leaving at least that one extra user?  And what will happen to the folder tree C:\Documents and Settings\Bernard\My Documents?  Where will all the critical files go, like MS Outlook 2003 Outlook.pst and all the MS Word files saved by default etc.?  Will they all simply be found in the Administrator Document folder tree, because I am now constantly logged on automatically as Administrator, i.e., in C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents?

What should I do?  This is NOT a security issue for me  this is a secluded area in my house, where I work alone, all math and statistics, not of much interest to anyone.  This PC is behind an expensive router with built-in firewall and there is limited Internet browsing, there is solid CA anti-virus, SpySweeper with all shields, SpyWareBlaster, SpyBot, SecretMaker, WinPatrol Plus etc. etc., hence, security is NOT an issue here.

Please, focus on the folder structure and whether the pertinent files, especially Outlook, Word and Excel, will be just fine to use out of the Administrator folder structure.  If this is feasible, then how do I delete the 1 user Bernard safely so that its folder structure is deleted, too?  Please, note as mentioned above, that the User Accounts applet in Control Panel does NOT offer the delete option, meaning that I will have to step it up in order to delete that user  and that makes me worry about remnants of or leftover of the complete folder structure of a deleted user.

Can WinXP be run only with the Administrator and no other user?  I know that the Guest user and possible the user may have to be left on the system from the MS knowledge base, but have to also report that strangely, in this install I also cannot find an user in my new system.  All else works fine and it runs lightning fast.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Question by:brnbrg
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    It does matter if you use the Bernard or Administrator user really. The Administrator account is there to be used incase you forget your password for Bernard or someone messed your account up etc. That way you'll always have a way to regain full control of the pc. If you want you can easily remove the Bernard user and use the Administrator account only. There was a time where XP would install without forcing you to create the extra user (Bernard in this case) so it's not like you're trying to do anything really special =)
    I would strongly recommend against copying the profile settings by trying to copy the user folder. This could lead to corruption of the user profile you are copying the files to. Just remove the user (through computer management, users and groups console thingy) and use the Admistrator account from then on.
    The reason why the auto login is set to the Administrator account is most likely because it was the user selected in the 'control userpasswords2' window before unchecking the box that says 'Users should enter username and password etc'.
    The ASP.Net account won't appear untill a .Net Framework is installed (and most likely you'll need IIS to be installed too).

    Detailed user deletion instructions:
    1. Right click the My Computer icon and select Manage
    2. Expand Local Users and Groups and click on Users
    3. Right click the user you want to delete and click delete
    4. Confirm if you really want to
    5. Done


    Author Comment

    Hi willem1985,

    A quick follow-up - you write:

    "The reason why the auto login is set to the Administrator account is most likely because it was the user selected in the 'control userpasswords2' window before unchecking the box that says 'Users should enter username and password etc'."

    Is THIS the way to control, which user gets to be the one, who is logged on automatically straight to the desktop - or is there another, more precise way to control this for future installs?  Also, if I rename Administrator to something else, I have found in the past in the case of user accounts that the folder remains "Bernard", even if I renamed the account to Bernie, for example.  Is there a way to rename the Administrator account then, if I am defacto forced to use it now, but along with it, also the corresponding folder name, or does the folder structure always have to say "Administrator"?

    Secondly, thank you so much for the above nicely graphical delete procedure - my only concern was with the Bernard folder structure:  Will WinXP delete the folder tree C:\Documents and Settings\Bernard\My Documents so that space can be saved and no errant files can accidentally get buried there - and if not, is there a safe Delete procedure for that folder tree as well?  I am feeling very uneasy about going into the Documents and Settings folder tree and deleting anything out of there that is positioned in a structure...  Therefore, deleting the user is senselss for me, if the folder structure afterwards remains - maybe you can clarify...

    Thank you for your quick response!  Bernard
    LVL 2

    Accepted Solution

    Yes, that is THE way to specify the auto logon user. In theory one could go about editing the registry, but I strongly advise against that. This is the only graphical way of doing this.
    You could rename the Administrator account I guess, although I wouldn't even bother as it won't make the folder structure different or anything. Windows will stick to the name provided at the time of creation of that user. I would certainly not start renaming Windows system folders, doing so will most likely break the user profile (or it will recreate the folder structure from the default user template).

    After removing a Windows user on one of my computers Windows left the user folders intact. You can check yourself if there are any files left (but seeing you never used that user I doubt there will be anything of use in there) and copy them over to the Administrator's folders. After that you should be save to remove the entire user folder of the user you removed.

    Author Closing Comment

    The only other question is about that User Accounts applet in Control Panel - why would it not allow to delete this clearly 1 user account?  Becasue Administrator privileges were assigned?  How can I prevent for the future that administrator privileges are being assigned at point of creation?

    Also, I have my Windows Explorer set to see as follows:... /n,/e,/select,,/root,, C:\Documents and Setting and of course, see 'Bernard's documents prominently at the end for one-click access.  Since I have nothing in that folder tree, I assume that I can delete it as you write.  Will explorer then not present me with that access choice any more, because for me it would be catastrophic and equal to the need for a complete re-install, if explorer failed, because I habe unfortunately 1.8 miillion research files on 12 volumes distributed over 6 drives in that machine and optimized my system so that explorer opens these files ultra-fast (1 SSD as C: drive, indexing enabled, all FAT32 file system, which is about 4 times faster than NTFS when you push it), multiple bkups etc.).

    Therefore, would you still advise me to remove that 'Bernard' folder tree?

    Thank you again so much for your kind help.

    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    The User Accounts applet in Control Panel will try to force the user to keep his/her own account and the original Administrator account (normally 'hidden' from sight) as a backup. Because of this you are not allowed to remove it there. The other panels are quite a bit more advanced and I guess they figure since you can get to those screens you probably know what you're doing, so you are allowed to remove it using the Management Console thing.

    I think that if it won't find its default startup folder (the Windows Explorer that is) it will just default to a different folder. You won't break anything if you remove the folders of an already deleted user =) Just make sure those folders don't contain any important research data or something similar!


    Author Comment

    Since I just installed, and it all went into Administrator, there are no files in user 'Bernard', only a primitive desktop without icons, just as you get it as default after SP2 finishes.  I'll check them anyway and then delete them all, that is:  The Bernard subfolder has 12 subfolders, in them a Favorites and Recent Documents, which have special icons as folder symbols - they all go, and if this also your understanding then you do not need to answer me any more.  I'll check later and if you do not warn me to the contrary, I will go ahead and delete all this in a few hours.  I just can't afford Windows Explorer hanging or malfunctioning, but as you say, the risk is very small after the user Bernard has been deleted.

    Thanks again,

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