People complain to me all the time about having to sign on to their computers. As people buy new Windows 11 computers, Microsoft makes it almost impossible to avoid creating login credentials. Win11 forces you to give your email, create a Microsoft account, choose a password and then a PIN. But let me give you some extra info about all of this. You do have some choices on how your computer treats you, when you turn it on.
Microsoft Account Pros & Cons
As mentioned, most new Windows PCs frogmarch you into making a Microsoft Account. And there are pros and cons to this. When you do this, Microsoft collects info about you and may track how you use your computer. But the Microsoft account also may also help track your computer if it’s ever stolen, and it can help streamline your use of OneDrive or other Microsoft tools. The Edge browser can use your Microsoft account to backup and sync your Favorites and other settings.
The Microsoft Account also enables other sign-on features inside of Windows, so that you can pick the easiest method for you. Very few people want to type in their cumbersome Microsoft password everyday. So that’s why Microsoft pushes that PIN on you. If you have a PIN on your Windows computer, then that saves you from having to type something longer.
Depending on your computer, you may also be allowed to “sign-in” to your computer with your fingerprint, or your face, or a physical security key. You can check these out by going to Start -> Settings -> Accounts -> Sign-in Options.
But perhaps the best part of a Microsoft Account is that you are unlikely to get locked out of your computer, if you lose your password/PIN. When a person can’t sign in on their computer with their Microsoft credentials, it’s often a simple process to reset things. They would go to another computer and reset their Microsoft password.
Local Accounts on Windows
But some people don’t want to have a sign-in on their PC. Or they don’t care for Microsoft to gather info on them. For these situations, you can switch to a Local Account. But you need to understand the full ramifications of this, because it is not a perfect solution!
First, to switch your PC to a local account, you would have to to go Start-> Settings -> Accounts -> Your Info. To the right, you will see an option for “Sign in with a local account instead. Using that will convert the logged in PC account to a local account. The Microsoft Account still exists, but will no longer govern this particular sign-on.
If you make use of this option, you will get the chance to declare a new name for the account. This is just a text label, and doesn’t matter to the computer, so choose anything you’re comfy with. It will also ask you to choose a password. You have two choices here:
- No password: if you leave these passwords field blank, you can set your computer up with no password at all. If your office is safe from intrusion, you might choose this. But please understand that this means that anyone could power on the PC and have 100% access to it. If there is any chance of the computer being stolen or used by an unwanted guest, you may want to avoid this.
- Any password: you may choose any password you want for a local account. There are no restrictions or requirements, like with a Microsoft account. It can be “dad” or “98765” or “keepthekidsout”. But if you set a password on a local account, the PC should also force you to setup security questions. And there’s a big reason for this. The local password is not stored anywhere else. You cannot reset it from another computer, like with a Microsoft account. If you forget your local account password, and you fail your security questions, you might be stuck like Chuck. In that situation, you’ll have to haul your computer to a storefront that has access to clever hack tools that can forcibly remove the password.