Windows 8.1 : Switching from a Local to a Microsoft account

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Unlike previous Windows versions,  the way and purpose of creating user accounts have changed in Windows 8. There are basically two types of accounts that you can create in Windows 8: Local accounts and Microsoft account. In this guide, we will see what is the difference between the two, which one is suitable for you and how you can switch between them easily.

Difference between Local Account and Microsoft Account

A local account is an account that’s available only from your personal computer. User accounts enable multiple people to share a computer, with each person having his or her own private documents folder, Windows settings and other customizations. Your user profile is stored on your local computer and available only from there. This type of account has been around since the time of  Windows XP.

Contrary to a local account, a Microsoft account is a roaming user account. Your profile is stored in the cloud on the internet, and your user profile is accessible to other computers, tablets and smartphone running Windows 8. All you need is a Microsoft email address such as yourname@live.com. All your settings and preferences are available from any computer to which you can log on by using this account type ( provided that you have access to the internet). Any changes you make while logged on are saved to your profile. So if you make a change to your laptop’s Start screen, that change will be applied when you log on to your desktop computer next time, provided you’ve logged on with your Microsoft account.

Microsoft account and local account under Windows 8

You might notice a slight delay in loading your profile after logging on to a computer with your Microsoft account.

Which one to choose?

If you are unsure which one, you should choose, you should ask yourself whether you use multiple devices ( computers, laptops, tablets or smartphone) running Windows 8 in your everyday life? Do you wish your personal settings such as your Internet Explorer favorites, desktop backgrounds, apps you’ve acquired on Windows Store or photos to be available across your devices? (Of course, you can customize what to synchronize!). If the answer is yes, then you should certainly use a Microsoft Account.

On the other hand, if you are not going to purchase app from Windows Store, or you do not own different devices supporting Windows 8, then I recommend you to switch to a local account instead. Another reason you should consider using a local account is if you have a slow internet connection. This is because using a Microsoft account will get your data synchronized online, and this will eventually slow down your internet connection.

How to switch between accounts in Windows 8.1

The first time you install Windows 8, by default you might be asked to set up a Microsoft account. Now if you wish to switch to a local account or vice versa, here’s how you should proceed:

1.Press Windows Logo+I to bring up the side menu.

2.Click on Accounts > Your account > Disconnect.

windows 8 microsoft local account You will be asked to re enter your Microsoft account before it switches you to the Local one.

For Windows 8 users

1.Press Windows Logo+I to bring up the side menu.

2.Click Change PC Settings.

3.From the left menu, Select Users

 

Local account and Microsoft account

You should now see the account type you are currently using. If you are on a Microsoft account, click on Switch to a local account button. You will then be asked to enter your password to confirm your identity. If you want to use a Microsoft account, click on Switch to a Microsoft account and follow the on-screen instructions. You can switch between these two accounts anytime.

Voila! You’re done.

  • Peter

    Interesting .. I was a bit hesitant to move to Windows 8 but I think I will move now and try the Microsoft account .

  • yoan

    so many privacy issues this is too much for a simple operating system that it used to be
    windows 8 which i call one big failure

    • Hayder

      Microsoft had no other choice. They had to come up with a new idea in order to penetrate in the tablet/smartphone market as the PC market is fading away. For me, Windows 8 is the next Vista – an operating system that will be refined in the next release. ( Windows 9? )

  • Spongebob

    A local account will always be more secure. I still can’t see the purpose of Windows 8’s Metro UI. Most programs open in desktop anyway.

  • Mary

    Hi hayder,

    I can’t seem to find these options to switch from Microsoft account to local account in my Windows 8.1 machine. Can you please help?

    • Hayder

      Yes, you’re right. Windows 8.1 is little different from Windows 8. I have just updated the tutorial how you can switch accounts in Windows 8.1. Hopefully, this helps!

  • Mary

    Thank you very much. Worked like a charm! The Microsoft account was really slow on my side. That’s why I switched to the local account. Anyone else experiencing the same problem?

  • Jeff B.

    Really useful tip. I’m a little paranoid about saving my files in the cloud. So I guess I’ll switch back to the local account instead of a Microsoft account.

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