Lock Your Computer with a Password: Using Windows XP to Protect your Work and Secure your Desktop

Secure your work; lock your computer.

Whether you work at home or in the office, you should protect your open documents, projects and other work on your computer before leaving your desk. Locking your computer allows you to keep all of the current applications open and running on your computer hidden from prying eyes or tinkering hands. Lock your computer at home as a way to secure your keyboard from a toddler’s random keying. Lock it at work to keep co-workers from playing pranks.

The “CTRL-ALT-DEL” Lock

If you work at home, then you may need to set up a new user account on your computer. Use the Account Manager tool found in the control panel to do this. Once the new account is set up, you can then log into your computer. If you work at the office then your computer is most likely connected to the office network and you are required to log into your computer. In this case locking your computer is just a few keystrokes away. Using the “CTRL-ALT-DEL” key combination in Windows XP bring up the network security box. Just click on the “Lock Workstation” button and your computer is now protected. Only you can remove the lock by entering your password.

The Screensaver Lock

To make it easier, set up a screensaver on your computer and turn on the password protection feature. Use the Display tool under the Control Panel to access the Display Properties dialog box and Screensaver tab where you can choose your screensaver and set an inactive time limit. After a specified amount of inactivity on your part, your computer will lock itself and display the screensaver. When the screensaver is turned off, you will still be the only one able to unlock it.

The QuickStart Lock

An even simpler approach is to download a Quick Start locking executable program. Quick Start Locks can be found on Downloads, Twocows and other shareware websites. A Quick Start locking program is a small file that can be placed directly on your desktop or in your quick launch toolbar for double- or single-click access. Running the Quick Start lock program will activate your password protected screen saver.

The Administrator’s Back Door

There is one way for someone else to unlock your workstation. Anyone with access to an administrator account on your computer can remove your lock. So while this method of protection will keep your work safe from most co-workers and family members, anyone with the administrator password can unlock it. So, if you are working at home you should remember to go in and set a password for the administrator account!