Windows Fast User Switching | Computing for Arts + Sciences

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Windows Fast User Switching

Fast User Switching is a feature, i.e. a term for some rather loosely specified functionality, of a multi-user operating system. It allows users to switch between user accounts on a single computer without quitting applications and logging out.

This is considered useful so that users do not have to be forced logged out for another user to log in; specifically on a shared desktop.

Policy

At CAS, we disable Fast User switching for several reasons:

  • Some software cannot have two instances open at the same time.
  • Switching over to a new account is not always successful; requiring a reboot to recover.
  • Switching back to a previously open account is not always successful; requiring a reboot to recover.

Since the point of using Fast User Switching is to prevent rebooting to allow another user to temporarily use a computer, the benefits are lost with the issues that we've seen.

Alternatives

Force Logoff Screensaver

CAS can enable a screensaver that the forces the logged on user to be logged off automatically after a timer (that's displayed in the screensaver) reaches zero. Simply move the mouse, to cancel the screensaver and the timer.

WinExit Screensaver

CAS can enable a screensaver that displays a message allowing anyone force log off the currently logged on user.