How can I remove restrictions from my PC so I can use it properly?

March 30, 2014
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My school sold me my school laptop so that I could own it. Before they sold me the laptop, it had restrictions on it that prevented me from performing various tasks, such as becoming an administrator, accessing the control panel, the registry editor, and the command prompt. It also prevents me from accessing restricted websites (even on my home wi-fi network), and prevents me from installing or uninstalling programs. There are two services that are that are known to cause some of these restrictions on my laptop, Group Policy and Lightspeed. Another thing I notice that I should provide here is that I have to actually log into the “school network” to log onto my user account. This means that other students will be able to access their account if they log in from the school’s wireless network, but not on other wi-fi networks, such as home wi-fi networks. Also this means that the school email (which serves as the school’s primary means for students and teachers alike) has the same password that you use to log into your school use account. So if you change your password there you also change your school email password. I asked the IT department of my school if they can remove the restrictions from the computer and they said that it’s no longer their job since it’s not their computer so it’s not their problem. So I am left to fend for myself on this computer and I am not exactly sure how to remove these restrictions. I would appreciate any and all help provided. And please don’t be rude say that it’s not my computer so I won’t be able to remove the restrictions because it is “considered cracking into a security system that does not belong to me.” Thank you very much for all of your help.

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  1. Tim B
    April 7, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Tough luck, I think it's very bad of the school to say "oh well your bad" and leave you to deal with it. It is after all your laptop!

    So as other posters have pointed out, the laptop is currently configured for school access. If you need school access (i.e. you want to login using your laptop in school to access shares and other similar things) then you are probably better off toeing the line for now and putting up with restrictions.

    However if you want the computer primarily for your own purposes – accessing the Internet at home, playing games, doing whatever you want to do (including school work) with little intent on connecting to the school network then you should most definitely re-install the operating system and start afresh. This will remove all of the school's restrictive software, and you'll be given an administrator account while re-installing your OS.

    This does raise a few more questions – do you run Windows? Does the computer have a licese you can use? Is there a sticker with a serial key on the bottom?

    Reply to this and I'll happily guide you through the rest of the process, but it might be best just to decide your primary use, then ask a more learned friend to help you reinstall the OS and set up the computer if need be. You'll probably learn a lot doing it too.

    Good luck, feel free to respond for more help.

  2. Jan F
    March 31, 2014 at 10:32 am

    First of it's hard to provide any help as you obviously can't do any administrative tasks on the device.

    The main question to me is:
    Do you want to access the schools network from the device or not?

    Since you said Group Policies your school is most likely using a Windows Domain with an Active Directory to authenticate users. Now, in order to access your schools resources like file shares, like their network, maybe even the Email account you'll most likely have to logon to this Domain and Directory. This inevitably means that this user will be restricted unless they "unlock" certain stuff within the Directory, within the Policies for your user only – which they probably won't you usually just have a "admin group policy", "teacher group policy" and a "student group policy", no extras.

    One way to do both is to have a local (only) account with administrative access in addition to the one that is hooked up to the schools domain. To do so you'll unfortunately need one of the schools admins help. Basically they need to reset the predefined (local) administrators password so you gain local administrative access to the device and can create a new local user.
    You'd have one user account "user1" who logs on to "school.domain" and one local administrative account "user2" who logs on to "hostname (this computer)".
    However, this option is a matter of choice of the school and the admins and you'll have to check their Bring-Your-Own-Device policies.

    If you don't want to use the schools resources the easiest solution for everyone involved: format and re-install. In the end you will have full control over the device, no hidden restrictions, services, tools or anything.

  3. dragonmouth
    March 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    As long as the school is allowing you access to their network, they have the right to set any restrictions on the access they want. Their network, their rules.

    All you have to do to get rid of any restrictive software is to reformat the hard drive and re-install the O/S and apps. Of course, if you do that then your laptop may no longer meet the criteria for being allowed to access the school's network.

    BTW - there may be restrictive software on your laptop but the access rules reside on the school server, and that you cannot access.

    • Cristián T
      April 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      As I said to Hovsep, I'd rather not reformat Windows, and I don't think it's possible actually, because of the restrictions on the computer. And I don't know how to remove the restricted software because it is not uninstallable from the Control Panel. I have some information on this computer that is not possible to back up due to the restrctions.

  4. Hovsep A
    March 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Is it Windows or MAC laptop? laptop must have factory settings recover option, use that to format and reinstall Windows. Before proceeding do a backup of your files. Depending the situation you need to re-activate Windows in this case get the License key.

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