Sharing a PC with a partner, child or roommate

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#1 Posted by isomeri (3103 posts) -

I'm looking for some advice from folks who have experience with sharing a PC with a partner, child, roommate etc.

This summer I moved in with my girlfriend and we've become pretty good at sharing our things to make the most of our small apartment. We use the same game consoles, cameras and lenses, TV, wool socks and even towels. But we both have still retained our own individual and private laptops and PC.

However recently she's been interested in using my gaming PC, which is more comfortable to play games and use Photoshop on than her MacBook. Even the latest MacBook seems to get crazy hot and loud when playing not that graphically intensive games like the Sims 4.

I still feel uncomfortable with sharing the accounts and files on my PC with her, not because of porn, but because that would mean access to my emails, bank and medical details, social media and overall the most important data which I own and/or control. Obviously I'm able to open up Steam, Origin etc. for her to use when I'm home, but our work schedules differ quite a lot and it would be nice for her to be able to play games when I'm not around.

The obvious solution seems to be to set up a separate Windows account for her on the PC. However my data is spread out on several hard-drives, and I don't know if there would be a way to, for example, buy a separate HDD for her to use for her games, photos and other data in a way where we couldn't access the contents of each others' hard-drives. Also, this would mean that she couldn't easily access the games she's interested in playing on my Steam, Windows, Origin etc. accounts, but I guess I might be comfortable with sharing those account logins with her. Although I'm not sure how we'd circumvent two-factor-authentication.

So what is your PC situation like with the people you live with? What ways have you found to conveniently and safely share one PC? Or have you just settled to buying separate machines for each person, which in my case might be unfeasible due to the cost and space required.

Any and all advice is welcome, so thank you all in advance:

PS: Oh, and before anyone else has the chance to post it, here's "that picture".

No Caption Provided

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#2 Edited by NyxTowa (1000 posts) -

Set up a separate Windows/Steam account and enable Steam family sharing to share your steam library

https://store.steampowered.com/promotion/familysharing

I'm pretty sure you can share game installs since save files are not shared

But you can also have here install the games wherever you like

Origin does not support game share

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#3 Posted by nutter (1618 posts) -

I thought about going this route when I was in this situation with my girlfriend years ago.

If you’re serious, forget about privacy. If you can’t trust her, don’t share a home with her.

I know some folks will disagree, but that’s where I landed.

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#4 Posted by isomeri (3103 posts) -

@nutter: I get what you're saying, but honestly I don't think we're there quite yet.

There are also issues beyond trust, more relating to convenience. I don't want to have to sign in and out of all my accounts (Steam, Twitter, Google, etc.) every time I use my PC. Also we both use Windows under different languages and different keyboard layouts. We also don't want Windows to copy our photographs in the same folders, because we have different ways of managing that stuff.

@nyxtowa: I forgot that Steam family sharing is a thing. It's been so great to be able to share all my games with her on the consoles, especially since she can access a large Game Pass library on the Xbox through my subscription. We will definitely give this a try once I get the account and hard-drive stuff sorted.

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#5 Posted by fledeye (243 posts) -

@nutter said:

I thought about going this route when I was in this situation with my girlfriend years ago.

If you’re serious, forget about privacy. If you can’t trust her, don’t share a home with her.

I know some folks will disagree, but that’s where I landed.

I agree. I wouldn't live with someone if there were things I didn't what them to see or know. But then I've been married for a long time and we share a family PC. There's one login for me and Hubby and another one of the kids. We have our own tablets, but we know each other's login info on those so we can use whichever one is better for the job or just closer at hand.

I have a couple of documents that for data protection reasons (other people's data), Hubby can't see, so those documents have a password, but he can see everything else if he wants to, not that I think he cares.

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#7 Posted by nutter (1618 posts) -

@fledeye: So, we’re married now...we came across the shared computer thing when we were about 20.

Been married 16 years, so it sounds like a no-brainer, but realizing how much of your life you’re opening up to someone when they sleep next to you, have access to your bathroom, food, computer, personal documents...it’s a huge step to just say “I’m an open book.”

I get OP’s convenience stance. I argued for it so my profile would be set the way I wanted it. She saw logon IDs and passwords as inconvenient (which sounds REALLY crazy these days) and wanted a default shared account without a password.

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#8 Posted by clush (703 posts) -

@isomeri said:

I still feel uncomfortable with sharing the accounts and files on my PC with her, not because of porn, but because that would mean access to my emails, bank and medical details, social media and overall the most important data which I own and/or control.

If she can get to all that by simply having access to your pc I think your problem is more with digital security than anything else. Someone could steal or hack my pc all they want, without my phone for 2 factor authentication and a bunch of extra passwords they won't learn a whole lot about me personally.

Having all that stuff better protected is just good advice, girlfriend and shared pc or not.

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#9 Posted by Casepb (517 posts) -

I don't think I could do that lol. My PC is just for me. So kudos to you for even trying. I would definitely be looking for her a cheap gaming laptop or something. Hell if you have the money buy yourself a new desktop and give her your old one.

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#10 Posted by babyinavikinghat (9 posts) -

@clush said:

Someone could steal or hack my pc all they want, without my phone for 2 factor authentication and a bunch of extra passwords they won't learn a whole lot about me personally.

Just a friendly reminder that if your 2FA is SMS based, they don't even need your phone.

@isomeri:

I would say your best bet if you really want to keep stuff separate is a separate Windows account and a password manager. I personally use LastPass and share entries with my wife as needed. This allows her to have her own language, keyboard layout and file structure on the PC (you could even install a new drive for her to save to), while still allowing her to access your game library applications and already-installed games.

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#11 Posted by soulcake (2459 posts) -

"not because of porn" Dammit how can you read my thought's!.

Here's how i would fix the problem but it's expensive and not recommended, Hook your PC up to a windows server (i prefer 2008 R2) Make a AD distribute policies make account's etc. Or you could totally do this locally with a windows copy giving people read and write rights. Or a other cool idea is making a PC a Dual boot like Windows and Ubuntu, Wife uses the Ubuntu you use the Windows. So many Possibility's!

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#12 Posted by CrimsonNight (18 posts) -

I have 2 computers for use. One is a new pc upstairs and the 2nd one is my older PC in the living room inside a coffee table hooked up to the tv.

I 90% of the time I use the PC upstairs and I have Steam family sharing on the PC downstairs for my kids.

Just setup Steam to go to big picture mode on startup and my 4yr old can pick whatever game he chooses that's installed on it (obviously curated for children).

Leave it on offline mode so it doesn't kick you from your Steam account when they play games.

My wife doesn't use the PC unless she needs pictures or something else.

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#13 Posted by Yesiamaduck (2477 posts) -

You can easily restrict access to folders on Windows.

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#14 Posted by jetmet (53 posts) -

I've never really considered this to be such a complicated question. I'm in the camp of if you're living together then at that point Id trust them enough to have boundaries at the point of the relationship.

You could just create a partition, if you have the space, and a user account for them to use. You could even do something like creating a profile for your SO and then creating just a general game user and leave that without a password and just has streaming logins on it.

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#15 Posted by Sahalarious (654 posts) -

The obvious answer is just make her an account? She lives with you friend, "not there yet" means you've done something terribly out of order, just open up.

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