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A user is a person who utilizes a
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These programs enable compu ...

computer
or
network Network, networking and networked may refer to: Science and technology * Network theory Network theory is the study of Graph (discrete mathematics), graphs as a representation of either symmetric relations or directed graph, asymmetric relat ...
service Service may refer to: Activities :''(See the Religion section for religious activities)'' * Administrative service, a required part of the workload of university faculty * Civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of gove ...
. A user often has a user account and is identified to the system by a username (or user name). Other terms for username include login name, screenname (or screen name), account name, nickname (or nick) and handle, which is derived from the identical
citizens band radio Citizens band radio (also known as CB radio), used in many countries, is a land mobile radio system A land mobile radio system (LMRS) is a person-to-person voice communication system consisting of two-way radio A two-way radio is a th ...
term. Some software products provide services to other systems and have no direct
end user In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user) is a person who ultimately uses or is intended to ultimately use a product. The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product, such as sysop A sysop (; an abbrev ...
s.


End user

End users In product development, an end user (sometimes end-user) is a person who ultimately uses or is intended to ultimately use a product. The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product, such as sysops, system administrato ...
are the ultimate human users (also referred to as
operators Operator may refer to: Mathematics * A symbol indicating a mathematical operation * Logical operator or logical connective in mathematical logic * Operator (mathematics), mapping that acts on elements of a space to produce elements of another sp ...
) of a software product. The end user stands in contrast to users who support or maintain the product such as
sysop A sysop (; an abbreviation of system operator) is an administrator of a multi-user computer system, such as a bulletin board system A bulletin board system or BBS (also called ''Computer Bulletin Board Service'', ''CBBS'') is a computer server ...

sysop
s,
database administrator Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data. The role may include capacity planning, installation, configuration, database design, migration, performance monitoring, security Security is freedom from, o ...
s and
computer technician Laptop technicians working at stations (2000). Tagged repairs in process can be seen on lower shelves at left, and service parts in labeled boxes seen above them. A computer repair technician is a person who repairs and maintains computer A c ...
s. The term is used to abstract and distinguish those who only use the software from the developers of the system, who enhance the software for end users. In
user-centered design User-centered design (UCD) or user-driven development (UDD) is a framework of process (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) in which usability Usability can be described as the capacity of a system to provide a condition for its us ...
, it also distinguishes the software operator from the client who pays for its development and other
stakeholders Stakeholder may refer to: *Stakeholder (corporate), a group, corporate, organization, member, or system that affects or can be affected by an organization's actions *Project stakeholder, a person, group, or organization with an interest in a projec ...
who may not directly use the software, but help establish its
requirements In product development In business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise e ...
. This abstraction is primarily useful in designing the
user interface In the industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specificati ...
, and refers to a relevant subset of characteristics that most expected users would have in common. In user-centered design,
personas A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional Character (arts), character. The word derives from Latin, where it or ...
are created to represent the types of users. It is sometimes specified for each persona which types of user interfaces it is comfortable with (due to previous experience or the interface's inherent simplicity), and what technical expertise and degree of knowledge it has in specific fields or
discipline Discipline is action ACTION is a bus operator in Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new n ...

discipline
s. When few constraints are imposed on the end-user category, especially when designing programs for use by the general public, it is common practice to expect minimal technical expertise or previous training in end users. The
end-user development End-user development (EUD) or end-user programming (EUP) refers to activities and tools that allow end-users – people who are not professional software developers – to program computers. People who are not professional developers can use EUD ...
discipline blurs the typical distinction between users and developers. It designates activities or techniques in which people who are not professional developers create automated behavior and complex data objects without significant knowledge of a programming language. Systems whose
actor An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance (also actress; #The term actress, see below). The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The ...
is another system or a
software agentIn computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of Algorith ...
have no direct end users.


User account

A user's account allows a user to
authenticate Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proving an assertion, such as the identity of a computer system user. In contrast with identification, the act of indicati ...
to a system and potentially to receive
authorization Authorization is the function of specifying access rights/privileges to resources, which is related to general information security and computer security, and to access control in particular. More formally, "to authorize" is to define an access ...
to
access Access may refer to: Companies and organizations * ACCESS (Australia)ACCESS is the youth network of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, a non-government institution dealing with all aspects of Australia's foreign relations and inte ...

access
resources provided by or connected to that system; however, authentication does not imply authorization. To log into an account, a user is typically required to
authenticate Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proving an assertion, such as the identity of a computer system user. In contrast with identification, the act of indicati ...
oneself with a
password A password, sometimes called a passcode (for example in Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown specie ...

password
or other
credentials A credential is a piece of any document that details a qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with a relevant or ''de facto'' authority or assumed competence to do so. Examples of credentials include aca ...

credentials
for the purposes of
accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other ob ...
,
security Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its El ...
, logging, and
resource management In organizational studies Organizational studies is "the examination of how individuals construct organizational structures, processes, and practices and how these, in turn, shape social relations and create institutions that ultimately influence p ...
. Once the user has logged on, the operating system will often use an identifier such as an integer to refer to them, rather than their username, through a process known as identity correlation. In
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
systems, the username is correlated with a
user identifierUnix-like operating systems identify a user by a value called a user identifier, often abbreviated to user ID or UID. The UID, along with the group identifier (GID) and other access control criteria, is used to determine which system resources a user ...
or ''user ID''. Computer systems operate in one of two types based on what kind of users they have: * Single-user systems do not have a concept of several user accounts. *
Multi-user Multi-user software is software, computer software that allows access by multiple User (computing), users of a computer. Time-sharing systems are multi-user systems. Most batch processing systems for mainframe computers may also be considered "mul ...
systems have such a concept, and require users to identify themselves before using the system. Each user account on a multi-user system typically has a
home directory A home directory is a file system directory on a multi-user Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This i ...
, in which to store
files File or filing may refer to: Mechanical tools and processes * File (tool), used to remove fine amounts of material from a workpiece **Filing (metalworking), a material removal process in manufacturing ** Nail file, a tool used to gently abrade aw ...
pertaining exclusively to that user's activities, which is protected from access by other users (though a
system administrator A system administrator, or sysadmin, or admin is a person who is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems A computer is a machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply ...
may have access). User accounts often contain a public
user profile A user profile is a visual display of personal data associated with a specific user, or a customized desktop environment In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. ...

user profile
, which contains basic information provided by the account's owner. The files stored in the home directory (and all other directories in the system) have file system permissions which are inspected by the
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
to determine which users are granted access to read or execute a file, or to store a new file in that directory. While systems expect most user accounts to be used by only a single person, many systems have a special account intended to allow anyone to use the system, such as the username "anonymous" for anonymous FTP and the username "guest" for a guest account.


Username format

Various computer operating-systems and applications expect/enforce different rules for the format. In
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor