By Karim Salmi / Blog / 0 Comments

Safely share your device with a guest

With the popularity of all things connected at first glance you may wonder why anyone would share a device. Everyone seems to have their own phone, laptop or dedicated desktop system. Yet think about how many times the question “Can I make a call?” or “I just need to check my email” has sent you into a cold sweat. Whether it may be site history you don’t want others to see or an obsession with plaid sock pictures you don’t want others to have access to, knowing how to tighten the security on your device can prevent you from looking like you have something to hide.

The first thing you will want to do is to set up a guest account. Most users overlook this very simple feature that has been around in Windows operating systems forever. By going through the control panel and “managing user accounts” you can quickly activate the guest user feature so that it is available for immediate or future use. By turning on the account, all password protected files, features and settings will be off limits. If you will have a more regular user, setup a separate user account for this person and make sure they have no Admin privileges. This feature is also great for parents because you can set permissions to block access to certain programs (ie. no internet), files and also set specific time limits. Make sure your own profile is password protected so the savviest users won’t just change the settings behind your back.

children sharing a computer

For phones and tablets, many manufacturers also offer the guest user setting. Some can be accessed discreetly by plugging in a chosen password that will redirect to a limited version (you pre-choose what is accessible) of your home screen and others will be an actual guest user account. In either case, as with your laptop/desktop, it is imperative that you password protect the system or all your careful planning will be wasted.

The second thing you may want to ensure is the privacy of your search history. Browsers such as Chrome offer the ability to search “Incognito”. While this certainly will not keep the very determined from tracking your online activities, for an average snooper using the “incognito” search bar while on Chrome will cover your tracks from their nosy eyes. Keep in mind however, we do not recommend using this technique at work, trust us when we say the IT tech in your office can still see it all!

Third, you may consider encrypting your device. As we will detail in a later post this is not for the faint of heart. If you lose your encryption key, your data is toast. While there may be extremely complicated ways to retrieve it, the road to recovering encrypted data is not a path you want to choose. We recommend using a key you know you will never forget, one no one else will ever guess, and keeping it logged someplace safe in case you do forget.  Some devices also offer automatic formatting to compliment the encryption. Unless you are James Bond, you may want to forgo such an extreme measure especially if you know nosy eyes will attempt to break in. Children and significant others have been known to attempt to crack your password and with this setting in place by the tenth incorrect try your device will wipe everything clean and still be encrypted.

Last, a conversation with a tech in our office may be needed to cover all the bases of your privacy concerns. We can show you which settings are useful, assist you with setting up password protected folders within your password protected profile and per your request store passwords within your client file of our non-networked data base for a small maintenance fee.

Contact us anytime for a privacy assessment and consult!


A computer guru with ten years of professional experience. From corporate IT to forensic data recovery, he has seen it all and has the stories to prove it. His hobbies include programming and ice hockey.