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How to Lock PC using Physical USB key in Windows?

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Predator and Rohos Logon will protect your Windows computer in your absence by turning your USB Flash drive into a ‘key’ that instantly locks and unlocks your PC.

In case you forget to lock your computer, which contains sensitive information, you can get into a problem as anyone like a coworker, a contract employee, or also a family member, can steal your financial information by copying it, and using it in any way possible. Now forget that traditional way of typing password every time you logged in to protect your PC from other users who may want to use your files, as Predator and Rohos Logon Key provides a solution to lock your windows PC by using a USB drive as a physical key in place of a password. Your USB flash drive is much more flexible than you may think, packing capabilities that go much further than just storing and transferring files. Let’s see these two apps for Windows in detail with step-by-step process for locking and unlocking your computer using Physical USB key.

Lock PC using Physical USB key in Windows

Free tools to lock PC using Physical USB key in Windows

Predator (Windows only)

Do you want to lock and unlock your PC with a physical device, just like what you see in the films? Then, make use of free software – Predator, which turns a USB flash drive into an access control device – a key for your PC. When you leave your PC, unplug the USB stick in order to lock your PC automatically, and when you again plug the USB back to its place, the PC will revert back as usual. If anyone attempts to access your computer while the USB stick is removed, he will be asked for a password and if it is wrong then an alarm will sound and access is denied.

How to use Predator?

First of all, install Predator Free Edition. If you want to enjoy better features necessary for the protection of a home computer, then go for Professional Edition that you have to buy. Predator works on mostly all Windows versions like Windows XP, Windows 8 whether 32 or 64 bit system. Once the installation process completes, extract its contents into My Documents, afterward run InstallPredator.exe file. When prompted for an installation folder, accept the default path “C:\Program Files\Predator2\” or choose your preferred folder on your hard drive, however do not choose a folder on your USB flash drive. Installation of Predator on removable media is not recommended.

The installer program will begin Predator application automatically, and if not, you can launch it manually through the Start Menu or through the Predator icon on the Desktop. A dialog box will request you to type a password and to get ready a USB flash drive. Then insert your USB drive and press Ok. Note that your data in USB pen drive will be secured.

You will get a Preferences window on which three tabs are given on top – Main options, Alarm options and Advanced options. Some settings can be only used if you have opted for Professional edition. Enter the password you want in the “Password” field, this can be even used to unlock your session if you lose your USB key. Under the password section, check the drive letter shown under “Flash drives” it must match with your flash drive letter or select the correct letter from the drop-down list. Then hit “Create key” button and lastly, hit Ok.

preferences window in predator

Predator will exit after this setup process; here a window will emerge stating Predator setup complete. Press the Predator icon installed on the desktop to restart the program, and wait for some seconds, and then a green ball icon will shine in the system tray. If you see green button then your computer is protected so remove the USB key, if its red then wait. Then your Windows desktop will be locked in some seconds, as per the settings you have made.

In simple words, follow these easy steps to set up your first USB key with Predator: Install Predator. Run Predator. Insert your USB drive when asked. Enter a password for this user. Choose the drive that signifies the USB device. Press the Register Key button. Done!

Take a look at advanced features:

  • 1 USB drive can be used to lock or unlock many PCs
  • Several USB drives can be assigned to different users
  • Built-in scheduler can limit PC access to specific times of day
  • Schedules can be determined on a per-user basis
  • If you lose or broke USB key, enter per-user passwords
  • USB drive security codes are often changed, limiting the efficiency of copied USB drives

Rohos Logon Key (Windows & Mac)

Rohos Logon Key is a cool product for both Windows as well as Mac, and it works pretty well. The program provides secure, fast and yet user friendly way to log in and out of your machines. Rohos Logon Key allows you to log into your PC by inserting a USB key rather than typing your password and it will put a security token on your USB drive and insert an additional `Login by USB` option to the Windows login screen. Whenever you login next time, you could just insert your USB drive and Windows will log you in automatically – you don’t have to type your password. By default, your usual password login option will always be offered together with the USB login, though you can select to change that and permit login only with USB drive. Moreover, if your USB drive is lost, then don’t worry as the program gives Emergency Login feature too.

The program is basically packed with features and functions that actually keep you protected. If you remove the USB token, the program will lock your computer. An unlimited free version is offered for Windows only, and if you want full security and protection or if you’re using a Mac, then you’ll have to pay the $32 USD. Overall, Rohos Logon Key can help you protect the contents of your PC against unauthorized users by replacing the regular password login with a more commanding one that requires using a USB drive.

Rohos Logon Key

How to use Rohos Logon Key?

Compared to Predator, Rohos is little easier to set up as it is a simpler program that’s basically different. If you particularly require the USB-as-login-credential functionality then use Rohos, in place of Predator’s keep-plugged-for-access functionality.

To set up your first key with Rohos Logon Key, first you have to install Rohos Logon Key and then Run Rohos Logon Key. Your next step is to insert your USB drive, type in your Windows password, and hit the Setup USB Key button. Done!

Key features of Rohos Logon Key in free version:

  • Login into Windows with a USB Key automatically
  • Uses big password, without the requirement to remember it
  • Replaces weak password based login with a hardware USB key
  • Authentication tokens variety: USB flash drive

Negative factors:

As every coin has two sides, here also there is a drawback. In case you lose or damage the USB key; key recovery is more of a frustration than resetting a password. One another downside is that the key everlastingly occupies USB port space so if you wish to give access to other person, you have to manually hand them the key. Thus, before setting up your own key, you should decide for yourself whether the positive points are worth the negative ones.

Photo credit: geekomad.com, rohos.com


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