Winxp Home – How Parents Can Set Up Time Restrictions – For FREE!

I lucked out and found a nice Compaq laptop at the Goodwill for Spane. It cost $135.00, and it's in good condition. The only issue is that the battery will not keep a charge, and for some reason the Internet connection drops. I don't care about either one of those issues – he can use regular power, and eventually I'll get the Internet part fixed – he doesn't need it that badly.

Windows 7 has Family Safety which will restrict a user's time on the computer. Windows XP does not, but, there is hope. There is a way to do it through the command interface. It's not that hard, and truth be told, it was nice to use the DOS command line again. I actually prefer it to this GUI thing.

To make things easier on myself, I put this stuff into three batch files, one for regular time, one for vacation time, and one for removing all the time restrictions. I also created another user account, Mom, so I could administer the computer any time I needed (Mom doesn't have any time restrictions).

One thing that had me a little confused was the user name. WinXP is so strange, and the Home edition doesn't have a lot of backdoors that Pro has. When I got Spane the computer, it had Compaq User as the user name. I went into User Accounts, and changed it to Spane. That only changed it on the logon screen, according to the system the user Spane did not exist, so my neat batch file didn't run correctly the first time.

  1. Here's how you can find out what users are on the computer:
    1. Start – Run
    2. Type cmd and hit Enter
    3. Type net user and hit Enter. A list of users will appear, you want to look for the one that is your child. In my case it was the Compaq User.

    Once you have that information, you're well on your way to having time restrictions on your kid's computer.

  2. At this point, I suggest you add another account, like Mom or Dad, as an administrator. Simply Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts -> Add User. The parental account will not have any restrictions, so if you mess up, you can log on under that account and undo anything you might have done in your child's account.
  3. I suggest making a folder off the root and call it maybe, timesheet. You're going to want to save the batch files you are making in that folder.
  4. If you have a plain text editor other than Notepad, I suggest using it. If you don't have one, I highly recommend EditPad If you are going to use Notepad, please remember that it wants to open and save everything as a .txt file, so you have to tell it All Files when opening or saving a batch file.
  5. Here's what a regular time could look like, just change USER to you child's name. One "gotcha" – if there is a space in the name, you have to enclose it in quotation marks, so Compaq User becomes "Compaq User".
    rem This is for regular time
    @echo off
    net user USER /time: M-F, 19:00-21:00; F,19:00-22:00; Sa, 11:00-22:00; Su, 11:00-21:00

    This schedule allows Monday through Friday 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Friday gets an additional hour to 10:00 pm, Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm (they have to do their chores in the morning, right?), and on Sunday, from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Here's another "gotcha" – the times HAVE to be on the HOUR, I don't know why.

    I prefer using 24 hour time format, but you can use am/pm if you want.

    Now, save the file as regtime.bat in the timesheet folder you just created.

  6. Then create another batch file called vactime.bat, and put the time restrictions for vacations.
    rem This is for vacations
    @echo off
    net user USER /time:M-Sa, 10:00-22:00; Su, 10:00-21:00
  7. Last, you will want to make one more batch file that allows ALL time, for when your child is sick, is on holiday, etc.
    rem This removes all time restrictions
    @echo off
    net user USER /time:all
  8. If you are logged in as the child, logout and login as the parent. When you logon, you should be at the desktop. If not, then get to the desk top. Right click and choose New-> Shortcut. Browse for the batch file you created in step five, choose it, and hit Next. Type in a name for the shortcut, I used Regular Time. Now the shortcut will be on your desktop. Repeat this for the other batch files. IMPORTANT: DO NOT DO THIS ON THE CHILD'S DESKTOP.
  9. Log out. If your child tries to logon at a time that is not within the parameters, a message will pop up that says "Your account has time restrictions. You cannot logon at this time. Try later"

    Well, there you have it, a way to restrict your child's time on the computer. I'm still working on a way to get the computer to logoff when the time has expired. I'll be posting when I figure it out – in the meantime, it's a matter of telling your child, "Hey, it's time to go to bed". I still want to have the computer turn off by itself at a scheduled time. I found some older software that does the trick, it's called Poweroff, and it's available at Jorgen Bosman's site.

    You can find out more information about this at Microsoft's site:

    Good luck, and good parenting!


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