Power User vs. Administrator | Is there a Difference?
The difference between Power Users and Administrators in operating systems is quite subtle. Older operating systems featured different types of users and user groups based on their permissions authority. But newer operating systems are dropping the “Power User” designation and replacing it with “Standard User.”
Power Users have similar permissions to Administrators. However, Administrators have complete access to the operating system. Power Users need clearance from Administrators to make any fundamental change to the system. Therefore, Administrators have more access to the system than Power Users.
First of all, Power Users and Administrators belong to different groups. The differences aren’t always visible to the naked eye. So, if you want to take a closer look, this blog post is for you.
What’s A Power User?
Power Users is a group of operating system users with more permissions to use the system than regular users. A Power User has the authority to create new local user accounts and make changes to them.
The Power User can also use and share system resources with other users.
Power Users have more administrative privileges than other users. It’s a privilege with some restrictions, though. (More about that later). Thus, they’re one step lower than Administrators who have unrestricted access to the system.
What Permissions Do Power Users Have?
- Power Users can run installed applications and use them to create new files.
- Power Users may install new applications on the system. Provided, said programs don’t affect core operating system files or add new system services.
- Power Users access essential functions of the system and modify time, date, and power options. They can install printers and use them.
- Furthermore, they can start and stop system maintenance services without permission.
Power Users can’t do these things without permission from the Administrator 1) Join an Administrator group. 2) Access/change/add other users’ data.
What’s An Administrator?
Administrators can do everything that Power Users can’t do and more. (More on that later).
So, an administrator can make system-wide changes that affect all users using the system. Users in the Administrator group can:
- Install software and hardware that make permanent changes to the operating system.
- Create new regular users, add administrative privileges to other users, and modify all existing users without permission.
- Edit security settings, change antivirus options and add/modify firewall rules.
- Have unrestricted access to all system resources and all files and folders on all drives.
All operating systems have a built-in Administrator user that joins the server or domain by default.
Unlike a Power User, an Administrator has unconditional access to the operating system with administrative privileges to make fundamental changes.
Comparison Between Power User And Administrator
Administrators are one step higher than Power Users when it comes to running an operating system.
In addition to the above differences, here are some more comparisons between Power Users and Administrators.
- Access and modify other users’ data.
- Install operating system updates.
- Create and restore system backups.
- Perform system backup recovery.
- Take ownership of lost/corrupted files.
Notice that Administrators can grant administrative privileges to Power Users but not vice versa.
- Delete low-level users.
- Grant more privileges they create, but not other users.
- Remove user permissions from other Power Users, regular users, and guests.
- Install and uninstall programs without modifying the operating system.
- Do all tasks that low-level users can do.
However, Power Users can’t change, access, or delete users they didn’t create.
Think of Power Users as “mini-administrator” or “Administrators with limits.”
As for Administrators, they’re the “owners” of the operating system and can do whatever they want with it.
Which One Should You Use?
As mentioned in the introduction, operating systems are taking a minimalist approach to users and user groups. Allowing you to create your users as you see fit, newer operating systems have two types of users 1) Administrator and 2) Standard User.
In these new operating system configurations, the main Administrator account retains the same administrative privileges. And you can also create other accounts as you need.
Typically, you want to keep your operating system in Standard User. Why? Because Administrators can do anything while a Standard User can do the basic things.
While a Standard User uses the operating system, the limits will protect the operating system from hackers.
The limits are there for the protection of the user and the operating system. They’re not in place to restrict your enjoyment or slow down your work.
When it’s a work or family computer, maybe many people will use the operating system. At that point, you may think of creating an administrator account for everyone to stop them from asking you for the password every time they want to install a new program.
However, giving multiple users free rein to do whatever they please with the operating system can pose dangerous security threats.
Operating systems require security measures to protect the information stored on the device. Otherwise, you might as well download and install viruses on your device.
The Standard User, which is the equivalent of the Power User, keeps your data safe. And keep you in control of your operating system.
If you’re doing sensitive work or storing personal data on your PC, you must be extra careful.
By dividing responsibility among several users, you reduce the risk of infection.
In practice, you’ll need one Administrator account and as many Power User accounts as you need.
Power Users have just enough administrative privileges to do the basic tasks needed to get the work done. When necessary, you can switch to your Administrator account to make fundamental changes or edit other users.
Administrators have more administrative privileges than Power Users. With great power comes great responsibility.
So, be careful while using your operating system because you may cause irreversible damage without knowing it.
However, there’s always the option to create custom users with specific permissions to carry out the tasks you want to get done.
Hopefully, the picture is clear, and you know the differences between Power Users and Administrators now.