"Who is my System Administrator?"

Over the past few years, users of personal computers have sometimes gotten messages making reference to a "system administrator" or just "an administrator", such as:

User Account Control

Or, a message like this:

"This program is blocked by group policy. For more information, contact your system administrator."

"You do not have sufficient security permission to perform this action. Contact your system administrator for assistance."

It's especially weird when it happens on a home computer that you bought at the store and brought home and set up yourself. Why does the computer think there is somebody else involved that you need to consult with to do something? Where does it get off telling you whom to contact, especially in such vague terms?

Even when you're at work and you think you know who it's referring to, it seems strange the computer is making these assumptions.

So, who is the system administrator? Well, if you're working on your own computer at home, it's you. But if you get a message from a home computer saying the system administrator won't let you do something, and you never remember telling it so, then the computer either needs some additional configuration, or you need to figure out how get it to perform the desired task a different way. If it is asking you to enter an administrator password and you have no idea what it is, then you or a family member must have set a password at some point.

If you're using a computer at work in a small business, the administrator is the staff member, or the outside consultant your company might use, who manages your computers for you. In practice, though, in a very small business, there is often no designated individual in charge of the systems, and the system administrator is in effect anyone who knows the administrator password.

In some smaller businesses with no full-time IT support, there may literally be no one who knows the password to any administrative user accounts. In this case, J.D. Fox Micro highly recommends you contact a qualified IT service provider immediately, so that you may recover the password and assign someone as the system administrator right away, to ensure that routine administrator-level maintenance is being performed, and that someone can fix problems promptly when needed. Do not wait until the system is down to address this!

If you work for a larger business with a full-time IT system manager, or an actual help desk and IT department, then when your computer asks you to contact an administrator, just call your help desk or system manager as you do for any other kind of problem.

So, in the end, although the message can be disconcerting, there really isn't much to it.