Thursday, October 28, 2021

Tech Tips
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ComicBase Tip of the Day:

Vista: Disabling User Account Controls While Avoiding .OCX Errors

Note: This tip falls into the “I wouldn’t do it myself” category. Make sure you read the whole thing.

One of the best and worst features of Windows Vista is the new User Account Controls (“UAC” for short). This causes Vista to get your permission before you do anything on your system that’s potentially hazardous. The good part is that this feature has the potential to stop any number of viruses, worms, and trojans from doing their dirty work; the bad part is that you get prompted so frequently that many users will be inclined to either robotically hit the “Allow” button, or disable the feature altogether: a point brilliantly lampooned in what may be the best-executed Apple commercial of all time:

 

If you decide you’ve had enough of UAC and attempt to use the User Accounts control panel to disable it, you’ll discover another unpleasantness: turning off UAC entirely causes Vista to radically alter the way programs are run, causing many of them (including ComicBase) to stop running properly. In ComicBase, this is usually evidenced as a series of messages that ComicBase can’t read your list of drives, followed by a series of .ocx errors.

If you’ve had it with being prompted by UAC, there’s a better way to turn off the prompting, but which won’t cause so much turmoil on your system:

  1. Click on the Start menu and type “Local Security Policy” in the search area, then press Enter. The Local Security Policy program will launch.
  2. Double-click on Local Policies in the left-hand portion of the screen, then click Security Options.
  3. Scroll down to the second item in the right-hand list whose name starts with “User Account Control”. (Its full name is “User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode” but you’d have to resize the columns in order to read this incredibly wordy prompt). Double-click this item.
  4. In the dialog that appears, choose “Elevate without prompting” from the drop-down list. Click OK, then close the local Security Policy window.

 

If you’ve previously disabled User Account Control in the User Accounts control panel, you should re-enable it there and restart your system. Afterward, you’ll find that your programs once again run normally, but that you’re not bugged for every little action you make while installing and running programs.

Despite my own misgivings about UAC, however, I personally wouldn’t turn it off, nor disable the administrator prompting as shown in this tip. As intrusive as it sometimes is, disabling it is a bit like taking the lock off your front door: it’ll get you into your house faster, but it also makes it a lot easier for the bad guys. My own advice: let’s put up with the prompting for now and hope Microsoft can ratchet it back a bit in the inevitable Service Pack 1. If not, they deserve all the ribbing they’ll be getting about this controversial feature.