Bypassing install errors with the built-in Windows 10 Administrator account

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The Administrator account already exists in your system if you purchased your computer with Windows 10 pre-installed. PC manufacturers use the built-in Administrator account to make manufacturer-specific tweaks to the system. It is then disabled before distribution to the stores that would be selling them. If you bought a barebones computer system with no operating system installed yet, the Administrator account gets created automatically when you install Windows 10; and it is with this account that the operating system is initialized. Once done, the account is automatically disabled, and the user is prompted to create their own account.

When the built-in Administrator account is disabled, it becomes hidden from view, and will not appear in the user log in screen.

Why is the built-in Administrator account disabled?

But if it is part of Windows 10, why not just keep the built-in Administrator account enabled, you ask? The account is disabled by default for a very good reason. It has full overriding privileges on the system; and as it is not subject to User Account Control (UAC) rules it runs all programs without any UAC prompts. If someone hacks into your system, the built-in Administrator account will give them free reign over your computer. On the other hand, it is this very characteristic that make the built-in Administrator very useful for troubleshooting issues.

The built-in Administrator account as a troubleshooting tool

You can fix many permissions-related issues by performing the required task under the built-in Administrator account, most notable of which are the various software installation problems that end up with a “setup was interrupted”, “rolling back changes”, or “system has not been modified” error messages. Such issues occur when a file, folder, or registry key cannot be accessed by the installer due to some permission setting “protecting” them from unauthorized changes. Trying the installation under the built-in Administrator account can help here in most cases. But before you try it, you will first need to enable the account.

Enabling the built-in Administrator account

Follow the steps below for enabling the hidden Administrator account.

1.  Tap on the Windows-key. This should open the start menu or bring you to the Start Screen interface depending on how Windows 10 is configured on the system.

2.  Type "cmd" (without the quotes) and wait for the search results to be displayed.

3.  Right-click on the Command Prompt result (or cmd.exe) and select "run as administrator" from the context menu. Alternatively, hold down the Shift-key and the Ctrl-key before you start cmd.exe 

4.  Run the command net user to display a list of all user accounts on the system. You should see      Administrator listed as one of the accounts.

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5.  To activate the inactive administrator account, run the command net user administrator /active:yes

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6.  Verify that the account is activated by running net user administrator from the command line prompt. Check "account active" to verify the status of the account. 

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   Log out of your current account and sign in to the Administrator account.

 

If you had been receiving permissions errors trying to install your software under your main account, try installing under this built-in Administrator account now.

 

Always disable the built-in Administrator account after use

It cannot be stressed enough that the Administrator account is not for your everyday use and should not be left unprotected. The best way to protect it is by deactivating it after using it. To deactivate the active Administrator account, run the command net user administrator /active:no.

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Repeat step #6 above to confirm that the built-in Administrator account has indeed been deactivated. The “account active” status should now show “no”.

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