Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Some Windows messages indicate something was set by your network administrator or just the administrator. That's probably you, even if you didn't do it.
Windows XP often advises that you “contact your network administrator” or it has a feature that has been disabled by the network administrator. But on a home network, one is the network administrator! How does one login as the “network administrator” (as opposed to a normal administrator account) or override these settings?
You're quite right. On your own network, you are the network administrator.
Whether you realize it or not.
In many ways, it's a nod to the fact that Windows is designed for larger businesses where there's a great deal of network configuration and control in place.
Configuration and control managed by real, honest-to-goodness network administrators.
At home, you have no one to contact but yourself.
I actually laugh a little inside every time I see that message, because it's so silly in the home environment.
No network administrator walked in while I wasn't looking and changed my network configuration. I'm the network administrator and I didn't set, change, or disable whatever it is that it's telling me I did.
The message lies.
Most of the time, what you're faced with are simply the default Windows settings. It came that way.
Frequently, these messages may pop up as a result of changes made by software (perhaps anti-malware tools) installed on your machine, or not uncommonly, by malware itself.
But not by some network administrator who doesn't really exist.
There is no separate login for network administration. If you can login using the administrator account or any account that has administrative privileges, you have access to everything that might be used to administer your network.
The question then becomes what to use?
To be honest, the best tool - next to having a friend who knows how to administer Windows networks, that is - is a search engine, such as Google or Bing.
There is no one place, setting, or tool to control everything that might fall under the purview of this mythical network administrator.
In other words, as much as I hate to say it, it depends.
You might need to make changes in the network section of the Control Panel.
Or you might need to run the Group Policy Editor - if your version of Windows has that, that is.
You might even need to dive in and make changes to the registry for settings that are exposed no other way.
You might need to use a third-party tool.
Heck, if it's malware related, you may end up needing to use your anti-malware tools to remove whatever caused the problem in the first place!
As you can see, there's no simple answer.
That's why I tell you to use a search engine. Take a concise description of your symptoms, what you were doing, any specific software involved, and take to the 'net. Chances are that you're not the first person to encounter whatever it is that you're seeing.
Why is always difficult to answer? In all honesty, I don't know.
But that doesn't stop me from guessing...
Here's what I think is going on: in larger corporations, network administrators need to be able exert control over the network in the form of assorted configuration settings, policies, and so on. It's an important part of how they control the security and acceptable use of their networks, as well as keeping corporate networks running smoothly. Things may have changed, but it used to be possible for a single misconfigured machine to wreak havoc on a large network segment, impacting all of the other computer users on it.
They don't want the users of individual computers on their networks making configuration changes. Period.
So, rather than saying, "Hey, this configuration setting over here is what's preventing you from doing whatever it is that you're doing," Windows simply reports that your network administrator has disabled - or whatever - that particular feature or access.
Folks in corporations will contact their actual network administrator or IT person.
Folks at home who are savvy will know how and what to fix, or will know how to research a solution on their own.
And those who aren't ... won't.
Misleading wording aside, that's kind of a good thing.
Networking is difficult and complex. It's hard to get working and easy to break. If you're not network savvy, then it's good to have that extra barrier in place. At the very least, it'll cause you to pause and carefully research the solution for your particular situation.
Or find someone knowledgeable who's willing to help out and become - perhaps for a moment at least - your network administrator.
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