Separate Application Data

It is easy to bypass the logon screen in Windows 9x so many people wonder just what the use is of being able to have multiple user ids. I discuss some reasons why you might want to set up multiple ids on my page Multiple Configurations using the Password Screen. Another reason you might want multiple ids is to allow different people to store different data specific to them in some programs.

Not all programs support this feature but some programs (including most browsers and email programs) make use of a particular feature of Windows that allows some applicqation data to be stored and retrieved from different locations depending on which user is logged onto the system. This means that you can use separate user ids to allow separate users of the computer to define their own web browser home page and configure their email so that they only retrieve email belong to them and not to other users of the computer and that emails that they send are identified as coming from them and not from other users of the computer.

You don't even have to do anything special to set this up, the programs that support this will do everything automatically for you. All you need to do apart from creating the separate users in the first place is for each user to configure the program to suit themselves. This configuration will then be stored in a user specific application data folder. Depending on which user logs on the appropriate application data folder containing their configuration data will be used.

So how do you tell which programs support this feature? Well I haven't seen anything obvious to check for but those programs such as web browsers and email client programs that I would expect different people to want to be able to configure differently have all supported this function when I have tried them. Other programs (such as office suites) do not appear to support these features in Windows 9x (where you only get one "My Documents" folder) but do support separate options by user on Windows XP (and to a lesser degree on its predecessors Windows NT/2000).

If you have more than one person using the same computer - particularly if they use it to access the internet - then it is well worth your while to set each user up with a separate logon id (you can leave the password blank). If you do this then those programs that do allow separate configuration for each user will do so allowing the computer users to work somewhat more independently of one another.

Note that this does not provide any security for the separate configurations, one user could still access the data of another user, it merely allows each user to specify which data that they want to access.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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