If you’re working on a PC in a crowded area, and need to move away for a moment, then the system can easily be locked simply by holding down the Windows key and pressing L. You’ll return to the login screen, and only someone who knows your user account password will be able to restore normal operations.
Of course is this is a shared PC then there may be several people who know the password. And Windows account passwords offer only limited security, anyway; there are ways to bypass them. So if you’re concerned about privacy then it may be wise to add another layer of security, courtesy of the free Smart PC Locker Pro.
Give this tiny tool a password (make sure it’s one you’ll remember), and you’re then able to lock your PC from its system tray icon, a button or hotkey, or you can have the program automatically lock after your system has been idle for a defined period of time. There’s an option to display custom wallpaper when your PC is locked. And then you can have your computer automatically shut down if it’s been locked for a while, or when someone’s entered the wrong password several times.
If you check the “Start with Windows and Lock Screen” option (see the Settings) tab then users will also be prompted for the password when you reboot.
And the lock screen disables Task Manager and optical drives when it’s running, so intruders can’t bypass the program immediately.
Obviously there are strict limits to the level of security you’ll get from this kind of tool. If someone fires up your system from a bootable disc or USB key, for instance, then Smart PC Locker Pro won’t launch, and with a little knowledge and the right tools an attacker could disable its protection. So if someone steals your laptop then the program won’t hold them up for long.
If you just want to ensure that people near to your PC can’t take a look at what you’re doing when you move away for a moment, though, the program adds a useful extra layer to security to Windows. It’s also portable, highly compatible (it runs on anything from Windows 2000 to Server 2008), and very lightweight (the core process consumes a mere 948KB on our test PC), making Smart PC Locker Pro a handy addition to your privacy toolkit.
And if you recognise the name from our mention last week, yes, we did point out that Smart PC Locker Pro had a bug, failing to launch when our test system booted. But to their credit, NoVirusThanks fixed that problem, and the others we had with Fast Raw File Copier Pro, within hours – a great performance, especially during the holiday season – and the program now works just fine.