How to Password Protect Windows 10
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Your computer is a veritable goldmine of personal and private information. Banking details, business documents, sentimental photographs, and more must be kept safe. Luckily, Windows 10 has a raft of locking methods The 6 Best Methods to Lock Your Windows PC The 6 Best Methods to Lock Your Windows PC Locking your computer is essential in preventing unattended access. Here are several great ways to do so in any version of Windows. Read More to help protect your data.

Let’s take a look at every single way you can password protect Windows 10.

Passwords

Password come in a few different flavors, depending on the type of Windows 10 User Account on your computer. There are slight differences.

Microsoft Account

The majority of Windows 10 users will lock their account using their Microsoft account password. During the Windows 10 installation you’re asked for your Microsoft account email address and password. This is used to create a User Account that is secured with the password provided.

Securing your Windows 10 computer with your Microsoft account password has positives and negatives.

Positively, your computer is secured with (hopefully) a very strong, single-use password. Using your Microsoft account brings other benefits, too. For instance, your Windows 10 license key links directly to your Microsoft account Everything You Should Know About Windows Product Keys Everything You Should Know About Windows Product Keys 25 characters govern your Windows system. Your product key is worth $100 or more, whether or not you upgraded to Windows 10. We explain what you can and can't do with your Windows license. Read More , instead of just your system hardware The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More . Associating your Microsoft account with your product key makes new hardware installation that bit easier than before.

Another benefit of using your Microsoft account is settings sync. Your personal settings will sync across all devices that you sign into, saving time on each device.

The downside is having to enter your Microsoft account password at each login. Furthermore, if you forget it, you’ll be locked out of Windows 10 and have to reset the password for the entire account. This creates an immediate issue if you only have one PC.

Microsoft account sign-in is a privacy concern, too. Windows 10 is still beset with privacy concerns, and “when you sign into your Microsoft account, we [Microsoft] create a record of your sign-in, which includes the date and time, information about the service you signed into,” as well as your IP address. The latter also betrays your location, even if you have location settings turned off.

Local Account

Don’t fancy using your Microsoft Account to secure Windows 10? You can use a local account instead. A local account offers the same level of password protection as your Microsoft Account, while not directly linked to your email address.

Microsoft doesn’t make it entirely clear that a local account is an option. However, if you’d like to switch, you can follow our guide on how to create a local account How to Delete Your Microsoft Account & Create a Local Windows 10 Login How to Delete Your Microsoft Account & Create a Local Windows 10 Login When you access Windows 10 with a Microsoft Account, you can store data in the cloud and sync it across devices. Does this sound concerning? We show you how to switch to a local account. Read More . Just be sure to set a strong password!

Alternatively, if you’re just about to start your Windows 10 installation, you can select an Offline account instead of providing your Microsoft account credentials.

PIN

Windows 10 has several alternative methods to secure your system. Using a PIN is one of them. Using a PIN has distinct positives. A major positive is the vastly reduced password length. The flipside? Your PIN is much, much shorter and therefore, easier to crack. It is incredibly easy to crack a four-digit PIN.

Set a PIN

Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings menu. Head to Accounts > Sign-in options. Under PIN, select Add.

windows 10 create pin password

Enter your current Windows 10 account password. Now enter your desired PIN. Your PIN cannot be a number pattern. I’d also keep away from birthdays, telephone numbers, and other patterns, like 753159 (number pad diagonals) or 0258/8520 (the center row of keypad numbers).

windows 10 set pin password

Once you have a strong PIN, press OK.

Forgot your PIN? Select I forgot my PIN and enter your last account password. This will give you the option to reset your PIN, or do-away with it altogether.

Picture Password

The Picture Password is a feature new to Windows 10. It is essentially a swipe-gesture password overlaid on a picture of your choice. As such, it suits touch-input, rather than a desktop keyboard and mouse combination.

windows 10 picture password setup

However, that doesn’t mean you cannot use it.

Set a Picture Password

From the Sign-in options page, select Picture Password. Enter your current account password.

Next, choose your picture. I’ve gone for the MakeUseOf featured image poster. Now, draw three gestures on your screen. I’ll leave the gestures up to you, but remember that this will be your password. Think basic shapes and patterns.

windows 10 set gesture lock

Re-enter your gestures to set the picture password. Your next login will require your picture password.

If you forget the password, there is still the option to enter your account password to gain access to Windows 10. Removing the picture password is easy. Head back to the Sign-in options page and select Remove.

Dynamic Lock

Dynamic Lock is a new Windows 10 lock method, How to Automatically Lock Windows 10 Whenever You Leave Your Desk How to Automatically Lock Windows 10 Whenever You Leave Your Desk Windows automatically locks after you're inactive for a while, but it's not instantaneous. Here's a new feature that lets you lock your computer automatically when you leave it. Read More  which lets you lock your PC when your phone goes out of range.

With Dynamic Lock enabled, you no longer have to remember to hit Windows Key + L, or click through the Start menu. Bluetooth is the key here. You’ll need a Bluetooth adapter, or a device with integrated Bluetooth.

windows 10 set dynamic lock

First, connect your phone to Windows via Bluetooth How to Connect Your Cell Phone to PC Through Bluetooth How to Connect Your Cell Phone to PC Through Bluetooth Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology. Most phones and computers have it. It's a great way to connect your devices and transfer files wirelessly. We'll show you how to set it up. Read More . Once that is done, press Windows Key + I and head to Accounts > Sign-in options. Check the box that says Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device.

Next time your Bluetooth paired phone moves out of the vicinity of your Windows 10 system, the connection will drop, and your computer will lock.

Dynamic Lock is a good addition to the sign-in options roster, but it isn’t great. In certain scenarios, it could actually compromise you without realising. Say you’re in a coffee shop working on a private document. Dynamic Lock is on. You head to the slightly obscured counter for a flat white with an extra shot, assuming Dynamic Lock will kick-in. But you’re not quite out of range, and a nefarious individual takes a photo of your portfolio.

I know it’s a stretch. But these things do happen.

Locked Down

We’ve looked at every way you can password protect Windows 10. We’ve considered the pros and cons of using a Microsoft account vs. a local account to secure Windows 10. And the most important password tip of all? Secure your account with a strong, single-use password 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More . Do it now!

How do you lock Windows 10 down? Do you favor a local account over a Microsoft account? Can you share your password creation tips with our readers? Let us know your thoughts below!

Image Credits: Martin Hladky/Shutterstock

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