How does User Account Control (UAC) work


In Windows, applications run by default without administrator permissions. They have the same rights as a standard user account: they can not make changes in the operating system, in system files, and in system registry keys. They can also not change anything that is related to other user accounts. Applications can only change their own files and registry keys or the settings and registers of the user who is running them.

When an application wants to make changes to system settings that affect other user accounts, modifies Windows files and folders, or installs new software, a UAC prompt is displayed asking for the administrator’s permission. If the user with Administrator rights chooses No, changes will not be made. If the user chooses Yes, the application receives administrator permissions and can execute the system changes that they want. These permissions are only granted until the application closes. The same happens with files that generate a UAC prompt.

What actions does a UAC prompt in Windows?

There are many changes that require the privileges of an administrator. Depending on how your UAC is configured on your Windows computer, it will generate or not a UAC window that asks for your permission to run. Here are the changes that generate such demands:

• Run an application with administrator rights
• System or System File Changes in Windows and Program Files folders
• Installing or uninstalling drivers and applications
• View and change files and folders of another user account
• Adding or deleting user accounts
• Set up the Windows Update service
• Changing settings in Windows Firewall
• Changing UAC settings (User Account Control)
• Changing the type of a user account
• Task Scheduler Execution
• Restore child protection system
• Changing the date and time used by the system
• Installing ActiveX Controls in Internet Explorer

Should I disable UAC when I install my desktop apps and activate it afterwards?

The biggest level of discomfort occurs when you install you Windows operating system and all your usual applications. At these times, you can receive a lot of requests from the UAC, and you might be tempted to temporarily disable it by installing all the applications and reactivating it when you’re done. In some situations, this may be a bad idea. Certain applications that make a lot of changes to the system may not work when restarting the UAC after installation, and will only work if you install them with the UAC turned on. Failures occur because when the UAC is turned off, the virtualization techniques used for all applications are inactive. This makes certain user and file settings installed in another location and stops working when the UAC is started again. To avoid such problems, it’s best to have UAC always on.

Do you keep your UAC enabled?

Now you know everything you need to know about the User Account Control (UAC) and its role in securing your Windows computer. Before closing this tutorial, tell us if you decided to keep it active or not, and why you made the decision you took.

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