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How the System account is used in Windows

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q120929
The system account and the administrator account (Administrators group)have the same file privileges, but they have different functions. The system account is used by the operating system and by services that run under Windows. There are many services and processes within Windows that need the capability to log on internally (for example during a Windows installation). The system account was designed for that purpose; it is an internal account, does not show up in User Manager, cannot be added to any groups, and cannot have user rights assigned to it. On the other hand, the system account does show up on an NTFS volume in File Manager in the Permissions portion of the Security menu. By default, the system account is granted full control to all files on an NTFS volume. Here the system account has the same functional privileges as theadministrator account.

NOTE: Granting either account Administrators group file permissions doesnot implicitly give permission to the system account. The system account'spermissions can be removed from a file but it is not recommended.
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Article ID: 120929 - Last Review: 02/20/2007 05:45:02 - Revision: 2.4

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • kbnetwork KB120929
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