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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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My Guest account can’t dial up the Internet!

Dial-up connection shortcutPeople with Administrator or Limited accounts usually have no problem connecting to the Internet through a dial-up modem. But when Guest account users sit down at that same computer and try to connect to the Internet, Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 refuses to let them. What gives?

It’s a security measure built-in to Windows, unfortunately, and it works like this: The Guest account can use an existing connection to connect to the Internet. But Windows’ security restrictions forbid Guest account users from starting or disconnecting an Internet connection.

This problem doesn’t affect every computer. If you access the Internet through a cable or DSL account, for instance, your Internet connection is always “turned on,” even if it’s not being currently accessed. That lets Guest account users surf the Web without problem.

Guest account users accessing the Internet through a wired networked computer usually won’t have a problem. But if you have a wireless network connection, log on with another account to make sure the wireless link is up and running; some wireless accounts go dormant if unused, leaving the Guest account unable to reconnect.

But if you access the Internet through a dial-up modem, your baby sitter won’t be able to log on through the Guest account to check for e-mail.

There’s a solution for Windows XP, but it’s a bit awkward. First, download and run this program from Kelly’s Korner Web site. You only need to run that program once. Then, follow these steps when you want to allow the Guest account to access the Internet:

  1. Enable “Fast User Switching” on Windows XP.
  2. Connect to the Internet using your Administrator or Limited account.
  3. Use Fast User Switching to log onto the Guest account.

Fast User Switching is described in pages 248-249 of Windows XP For Dummies.

The most awkward problem with this solution? Most dial-up Internet Service Providers usually drop the connection if it hasn’t been used for a certain amount of time. Unless your babysitter stays in front of your computer soon after you leave, your ISP will disconnect your connection.

But if your kids log on through the Guest account and you’ll be home to reconnect to the Internet if necessary, this might be the only solution you need.


Comment from user
Time September 14, 2009 at 4:59 am

Very well written. And what you have written seems to be accurate as far as my experience goes. But what if I want the babysitter (guest) to be able to start my computer when I am not there. to then log on as guest, and then access internet? Any workaround? What if I create a user account such as “babysitter”, without administrative privileges?

Comment from Andy Rathbone
Time September 14, 2009 at 7:52 am

Only administrator accounts may establish a connection to the Internet, so your idea of creating a user account named “babysitter” won’t work unless you make that account an administrator.

If you switch to an Internet account that’s always on, like cable or DSL, then you won’t have the problem. The problem relates only to dial-up Internet access. (Or wireless Internet access, if the Guest account turns on the PC and tries to use it.)

Comment from Kai Jensen
Time April 19, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Hi Andy. I have exactly the same problem although my Internet account is in fact always on. My PC is connected via a LAN cable to a router which is again connected to a DSL cable modem (permanently connected to the internet). Any clues to what is going on? Could it be my Firewall (Norman Security Suite)? FYI, I am using Windows XP Service pack 3 with all the latest updates/patches installed. Looking forward to receiving your reply!

Comment from Andy Rathbone
Time April 20, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Kai, try turning off the firewall first, then test the guest account. If that doesn’t work, try plugging the modem’s cable directly into the problem PC, bypassing the router. That will help you narrow down the culprit.

Comment from CyberBear
Time May 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm

If you have Dial-up, yes, what is on this page works, however, there is another method. For XP Users, logged in as ADMIN, you can type in the RUN window, control userpasswords2. This will open access to all users and you can set the properties (access) of users to be elevated just a bit higher than guest as a RESTRICTED USER. AKA USERS GROUP.. Still they can’t install software, but have dial up.

Comment from jemal Abdul
Time August 30, 2010 at 4:56 am

Bravo Andy . And; i think you are the best. you know what i have learned so many i mean a lot . good job thank you.
keep it on please.

Comment from sam
Time August 5, 2011 at 8:33 am

Hi andy .. how about window7? ..is there any solution? allmy favorites sites are in Guest users .. I have 2 face book accounts, one personal w/c i use as an administrator and second one for some news as a guest. now by using wireless i can’t open the internet .. again it is window 7 that I am using ..thanks in advance..

Comment from Andy Rathbone
Time September 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Sam, Guest Account holders can’t create an Internet connection for security reasons. Microsoft has made it that way for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Since dial-up Internet connections are on their way out, I don’t see Microsoft changing things.

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