Is it safe to turn off User Account Control Settings?

Ask Mr. Noobie

Ask Mr. NoobieQUESTION: User Account Control Settings: Whenever I install a new program or game on my PC a box pops up asking me if I want to allow the program to make changes to the hard drive. It’s annoying but as I understand it, this is meant to keep my PC safe. I don’t go to risky sites, I download from the same sites, like Amazon, Big Fish Games and a few sewing sites and I encounter little risk. I have virus scanners, and ad blockers, and run daily scans for safety.

I know that the slider bar can be moved to Never Notify Me, but what are th risks in doing this? Isn’t there any way of ‘white listing’ the places you go to all the time that you trust? As I’m sure you know when you change the setting, you have to click to okay that setting being changed.

I would appreciate your advise where this is concerned. I am asked this a lot and I don’t have an answer but I’m sure you do. – Ila from Portland, Maine

ANSWER: You didn’t mention what operating system you are running but based on your question, I am going to guess you are running Windows Vista. If so, the only two options for User Account Control Settings are on and off as you mentioned.

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, however, Microsoft expanded this to four options with two new middle-of-the-road choices: “Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer” and “Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop)”. So if you are running Windows 7 or 8, you might try one of these two new choices to slow down the occurrence of the prompts.

On the other hand, if you are running Windows Vista, your options are more limited, as you have already discovered. But based on the fact that you maintain the security on your PC better than most users I deal with, I would say you are probably okay setting the User Account Control Settings to Never Notify Me.

Add this layer of protection

Just be sure to continue to stick with the websites you know and not stray to far into the unknow. Another thing you might do is install the paid version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This program runs in tandem with your other security software, goes beyond checking for viruses and will stop you if you are about to visit a website with known malware issues.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium

There is a free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware but it doesn’t run in the background automatically. Instead, you have to run it manually each time you want to scan your computer. Much easier to upgrade to the paid version and have all of the work done for you automatically in the background. Otherwise, by the time you realize you need it, it may be too late.

Here’s a link to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium if you’re interested: https://www.noobie.com/go-malwarebytes

The current cost is $24.95/year and this will cover up to 3 PCs.

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4 Comments

  1. asudduth

    Unless there is a technical need to disable UAC, I recommend it be left enabled. With all the zero-day vulnerabilities, and the fact that even trusted sites could have something compromised, although with the ad blocker that should help quite a bit. Anyways, my two cents is this: its a very minor inconvenience for one more layer of protection. Not to mention, I find that most people don’t install too much software once their computer is set up to their liking. (unless its an update to an existing piece of software)

    • Patric Welch

      I somewhat agree but you have to admit, Windows Vista is excessive (and that’s being generous) at how many times it asks you if something is okay. Put in a CD… “You put in a CD, is that okay?” Open the contents of the CD… “You are about to show the contents of this CD, is that okay?” Run a program on the CD…. “You are about to open a program on this CD, please grant permission to do this.”

      Okay, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea. I think Microsoft did too since they toned it way down with Windows 7 and 8.

  2. Ila Turner

    I am sorry that I didn’t include my OS – it is WIN 8.1 64 bit. As usual, though great answer. I do wish MS would allow white listing of sites though. I am a gamer and beta test games, so I may sometimes install as many as 6 or more games per week, these are casual small games. Having this ‘so called warning’ does mean I can’t set these up to auto install while I go off to do something else, each one has to be approved. I’m going to take your advice and look at the middle of the road, the site I most often download from is security checked numerous times each day and I do have my own security checkers the games are run through as they are downloaded. The programs are zipped, and checked again before they are unzipped, so with this, I think, hopefully, all should be safe. Thank you for again for your help.

    • Patric Welch

      Thanks for the follow-up! :)