A friend of mine is going to stay here for two days, and I am sure he will need to ask me to use the PC (and Mac) in the study room. (which will be tons of work to move them and no matter where they are moved, the friend for sure will ask for use of a computer).

In such case, what is the best way to protect my privacy, so that he won't be able to look at my Documents folder, Pictures folder, etc, and all of my IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari's History, Bookmarks, and Stored Passwords?

I can create a temporary account, I think, and log in using that tmp account, but will that protect looking at my default user folders on hard disk, and also, the IE / Firefox / Chrome etc were installed so that they can be used by all users, so do I also need to remove all those History, Bookmarks, Stored Passwords, on each browser? (and it is not good to remove the bookmarks and stored passwords because I may need them later).

Is there a better way?


If you don't mind being obvious to your friend about it, remove the HDD and give him a Linux live CD to boot.

  • Ah, I see Ignacio beat me to it :) Jun 16 '11 at 3:35
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    Nice! You can use password in Bios Setup and disable there the HDD. You can give him Linux live CD or pendrive. So easy! But test at first.
    – kokbira
    Jun 16 '11 at 3:36
  • Worth adding that you definitely should pull the drives in this case, as most LiveCDs will allow you to access the drives without a username/password. Oct 4 '15 at 12:49

Password-protect your accounts on both computers, then create (or enable the existing) Guest accounts on both machines. Let your friend use the Guest accounts while he's visiting.

The Guest user won't have access to your files or bookmarks unless they're in non-standard locations or you've otherwise changed default permissions.


At least for the PC, if you create a new user WITHOUT admin privileges, he won't be able to access your profile, which is where your documents and caches should be. If you have saved things in other places, you cannot be sure.

Create the user, log in as it, and then poke around. If you need to tighten up your security permissions on the folders you don't want him to access.

As a practical matter, you could just tell him: If I catch you looking at my stuff, you won't be able to use it any longer.

I can't advise you regarding the MAC.

  • 1
    For: "you could just tell him: If I catch you looking at my stuff, you won't be able to use it any longer." It is hard because he will have the study room all to himself at night with the door closed till the morning... Jun 16 '11 at 3:31
  • OK, but the other option will work. Actually, the guest option given by goblinbox is actually even better...getting tired.
    – KCotreau
    Jun 16 '11 at 3:35
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    I agree a standard user account should work fine. However if he has physical access to the system when you're not around and is determined to access your files, he will be able to with something as simple as a live Linux CD or USB drive. That is likely much more determined than you suspect he will be (or you'd lock up your computer and not grant any access) but technically it is a risk.
    – Bacon Bits
    Jun 16 '11 at 3:36

At first, put two different passwords in BIOS (but do not forget that password) - one for the user, one for the setup.

In BIOS setup, disable booting via CD/DVD or flash drive, because, for example, if you have Windows XP with security options to protect folders, he can use a live linux installation to access them.

If you are using Windows OS, do a guest account and protect all folders that have your files with security options.

I think for Linux in yout PC and for your Mac machine you can have more secure way to protect the files and configs...


Rent, borrow or buy another PC for them to use, never share unless you have an incredibly high degree of trust for the individual. Its not only what they can do on purpose, its what can happen by pure accident or stupidity.

Its not worth the risk, is it?

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