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Windows Annoyance

2005-09-19 16:11:08.437419+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Imagine you have a Windows machine. Imagine you have a nephew who comes to stay with you for a while. Said nephew might play games on said Windows machine. In fact, said nephew will probably start changing desktop and window settings, putting up busy backgrounds that obscure icons, moving icons around on the desktop, making you consider buying a second monitor just to manage the "Start" menu. At some point you might have a use for the Windows machine again, so you might say "this is time to create an account for nephew on that machine", so you create the account, and then as you try to look at what to move across, and dealing with the registry settings and logins of all of those games, you think "wait, this'd be easier if I just copied a few shortcuts and renamed those accounts so that the new one was mine and the old one was his..."

Well, you'd be wrong. Because, you see, when Windows "renames" an account, it just sets an extra alias string in the account, and when logging on just looks for the first account with that name. So using either "Forest" or "Dan Lyke" logged in to the original account, and... well... until I get him off my machine and back to his own (currently in storage until they've got a place to live), I log in to my computer as "Forest" and he logs in as "Dan Lyke".

Ya know, not only do I know how to do this in Un*x, I know it's possible, even easy. In Windows, I'm fairly convinced at this point that it's not really possible to rename an account.

[ related topics: Games Dan's Life Microsoft moron ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-19 16:50:22.264273+00 by: meuon

I've done it, it was 6+ hours of regedit and directory name surgery that I'll never do again, but once started along that path I was determined to do it. I learned that things look very different inside a WinXP boxen when logged in as Admin in safe mode. Lots of reboots.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-19 22:18:33.653362+00 by: topspin

Not for sure, but an admin logon then Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> User Profiles (settings) might let you fix this stuff.

Make a new account for each of you with a reasonable name, copy the settings from "Dan" to "new Forest" and vice versa.

Delete the "Dan" and "Forest" accounts, then recreate them and transfer the "new Dan" and "new Forest" info to them.

Kludgy.... needless to say, but perhaps it will work. At worst, you likely end up with something closer to your real names.

YMMV.... as I've never actually copied accounts, only deleted them from there. I'd test the "new Forest" and "new Dan" accounts before deleting, of course.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-20 03:09:25.08383+00 by: Dan Lyke

Hmmm... I'll look to see about copying settings, 'cause rename in there was what got me in trouble.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-20 14:09:07.880021+00 by: ebradway

As someone who manages a couple computer labs and several servers - all Windows based - with several "grades" of users - I wish every day that Windows was 1/10th as easy to manage as Unix. Sure, I had to use a command line in Unix but you know what? I use the command line frequently in Windows. The Swiss-army-tool that is the "net" command, does much of your basic user management.

But renaming "accounts" - yeah, right. Windows keeps adding more and more abstraction layers to their user accounts. XP is insane that way. I would recommend, as topspin did, creating new accounts and deleting the old ones. And when I delete an account, I also mean nuking the "Documents and Settings" folders related to that account. I'm sure there is more effluent in the registry as well.

Finally, I would be wary when renaming a new account to what an old, deleted account was named. I wouldn't be surprised if "stuff" from the deleted account started reappearing in the new one!

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-22 01:04:20.751188+00 by: baylink

You are correct. Renaming an account... doesn't.