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I have configured my Ubuntu Oneiric to automatically login to a standard user account. This setup is for my parents who don't know much about computers. But when I use it I need to login as an administrator. So is there any difference between using the switch user option and using logoff and login in terms of PC resource utilization?

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Of course, using multiple user profiles at the same time will consume more resources than just having one user logged in at a time. This is because a standard user will have certain processes running on the background (like Xorg), no matter whether it is active or not, which consumes memory.

Logging out users that are unnecessary for your current work is recommended if you are low on resources or running processes that are very resource-intensive like compiling or playing a video game.

Another benefit to logging out users who don't need to be logged in is that it ensures you end any process that could be interfering with operations by another user. For example, if one user has a Nautilus window open for a volume that is not really being used, others users will not be able to unmount the volume (unless they use sudo and kill the Nautilus process, which is sort of like logging that user out, but way uglier).

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@Eliah Thanks for the edit. – jokerdino May 25 '12 at 10:51

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