4 Creative Ways To Securely Password Protect Your Computer [Windows]

Tina Sieber 16-11-2011

how to password protect computerPasswords are a first line defense to your privacy and often they are the only one. If you are concerned about your data, you will want this barrier to be high and strong. As has been written many times before, this involves using hard to crack passwords and different ones for each and every account you use. In this article I want to explore some less common ways to password protect your computer.


Desktop Shortcut To Lock PC

In yesterday’s article 4 Common Ways To Password Protect Your Windows User Account Protecting your computer with a password should be common practice, especially if many people potentially have physical access to it. Windows provides several levels on which you can set passwords to lock your user account.... Read More , I covered the common ways to password protect your computer. I showed you how to use the standard Windows user account password in different instances, all of them resulting in the computer being locked. If you don’t care for screensavers or the keyboard shortcut to lock your screen, creating a desktop shortcut presents an alternative way to lock your screen.

To create the shortcut, right-click on your desktop and select > New > Shortcut from the menu.

how to password protect computer

In the Create Shortcut window, set this as the location of the item:

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation


how to password protect your computer

When you’re done click > Next, in the following window type a name for your shortcut, then click > Finish.

From now on, whenever you want to lock your computer, you can double-click this desktop shortcut, rather than hitting the [Windows]+[L] keyboard shortcut. For more convenience, you can drag the shortcut to your QuickLaunch bar, which will allow you to lock your computer with only a single click.

Use USB Flash Drive As Lock

Predator is a software that allows you to use a USB flash drive to lock and unlock your computer. When the flash drive is removed, mouse and keyboard are locked and the screen turns dark. If the flash drive isn’t handy, you can hit the space bar several times and unlock the computer using a custom password. Entering the wrong password, however, will result in a nasty alarm.


how to password protect your computer

I have described how to use Predator in The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to a USB Thumb Drive The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to USB Thumb Drives Flash drives today are not just about storing your important files: you can use them to run programs and even entire operating systems. Read More and you can also read up on how to use it in the article Secure Your Computer From Intrusion With Your USB Drive and Predator Secure Your Computer From Intrusion With Your USB Drive and Predator Read More .

Set BIOS Password

Setting a BIOS password is not necessarily very creative, but it’s impossible to circumvent without physical access to the machine. To set a BIOS password, you first need to figure out how to get into your BIOS. Usually, this is done by clicking the DEL or F1 key during startup; the correct key should be indicated when you boot your computer. Once you have entered the BIOS, navigate to the Security tab or a similar option and set a password.

how to password protect computer


Note that your BIOS may look completely different from the screenshot above.

Set Hard Disk Password

This password is almost impossible to circumvent. The hard disk password can also be set in the BIOS. On some computers, it may automatically be set together with the BIOS password.

Warning: there is no way you can personally reset or remove a hard disk password. Forgetting the hard disk password will render the drive completely and utterly useless!

The hard disk password is saved both on the drive platter itself and on a chip on the hard drive controller. There is no backdoor to resetting or accessing the drive if the password was set and forgotten. The only way to recover data from such a drive is to send it to a professional data recovery company, who will read extract data from the platter.


Alternative Options

If you don’t want to lock your entire computer, but would rather concentrate forces, check out these tools:

A better way to secure your confidential data is to use encryption and set an ultra strong password for the decryption step. Now remember, whatever you do, do not forget your passwords! Finally, you will want to be able to tell if someone has been snooping on your computer 4 Ways to Tell If Someone Was Snooping on Your PC Your computer is not how you left it. You have your suspicions, but how can you tell if someone was snooping on your PC? Read More .

Where do you set passwords and how do you create strong passwords you can remember?

Explore more about: Online Privacy, Password.

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  1. Matt
    November 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Please write more articles like this. Thanks!

    • Tina
      November 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Will try. Thanks for your feedback! :)

    • Aibek
      November 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

      I second that!

  2. Hasib Nazir Gill
    November 17, 2011 at 5:45 am

    If i lock my computer with desktop shortcut how can i unlock it again?

    • Jeff
      November 17, 2011 at 5:59 am

      Upon locking your computer, you will just need to log into your Windows account again.

    • Tina
      November 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      What Jeff says is right. Sorry if that wasn't clear!

  3. Jeff
    November 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Loving the focus on security! 

    Since the password resides on the controller card, if you swap your hard drive controller out for another one from the same model of hard drive, you can bypass the password all together, at least in theory.

    TrueCrypt (system encryption mode) is a better pre-boot authentication system, as it actually implements data encryption and uses an independent boot loader (whereas the alternative would just require a password to proceed). Then if you lose your password (or corrupt the boot loader) you're SOLJWF (:

    • Tina
      November 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks for the extra level of detail, Jeff!