How to Lock Your Windows PC Using Your USB Drive

Have you ever watched geeky movies in which some tech guy uses a USB stick to log in and out of his PC? Wasn’t that great? So much like you I also fascinated to do something similar on my office PC as there is always someone who keeps peeking when I’m not at desk. Predator is a free tool that can be used to lock your PC while you are not on the desk and yet continue to keep the Windows session running.

How to set up Predator

1. Download Predator and install it.

2. Now insert in a freshly formatted flash drive.

3. You will now get to see the “Preferences” window for the tool. You can now set it up based on your requirements or consult the following screenshots for the references.

predator-preferences-main-options
predator-preferences-advanced-options

4. Once you have properly configured the preferences for the tool, go down to the “Flash Drive” section that can be found in the “Main Options” tab. Now press the button “Create key” to create the key. You can see the “Creation in progress…” during the process and “Creation Complete” once its done.

predator-create-key

How to enable the guard

Once everything is done you will be asked to restart Predator to enable monitoring (only necessary in the first run). After you restart the application, you will notice a (animated) green bubble in the notification area. You will notice the bubble going red at times notifying the key has been accessed. That is all. You are all set to test the app.

predator-monitoring-on

How Predator works

Remove the flash drive now and wait for a while as your PC screen turns complete black. This means that your PC is now locked. You can go around and have your lunch break (without worrying about your boss checking your PC for your secret job applications :) or your colleague simply trying to get a look at your project file). Be sure to carry the flash drive safe in your pocket.

Once you are ready to log in, insert the flash drive and wait. A login screen flashes in where a timer (20 seconds) is running and an password field is present. Enter your password that you used while creating the key and hit enter. If the password is right, you get logged into your PC with all windows (you were working on) minimized.

What if the password is not right? That’s when someone else is trying to log in. Right? That’s when Predator throws a movie-style “Access Denied” screen with an awkwardly irritating intruder alert which is enough to alert you.

How to disable the tool

This is pretty simple. All you have to do is right click on the notification area icon and click “Pause Monitoring” and you will notice the bubble has turned yellow (with no animation).

predator-monitoring-off

NOTE: To use this option you have to enable pausing in the tool “Preferences”. To do that open “Preferences”, go to “Advanced Options” tab and select the checkbox named “Enable Pause”.

predator-enable-pause

Other advanced features

Predator has also got one professional version (worth $29) which supports many other features like Twitter Log (that notifies you of any breach via direct message in Twitter, enabling you to keep track of your machine from a remote location), SMS and email alerts, multiple keys and many more.

WORD OF CAUTION :

Two things to be taken care of in Predator are,

1. Be sure to remember the password. You can disable the password check if you have a tendency to forget password. Open “Preferences”, go to Main Options tab and uncheck the checkbox “Always Required” under “Password” field. Disabling this doesn’t mean that the protection is not there. The USB key is still valid i.e without the USB the computer is still inaccessible.

2. I noticed my laptop keyboard wasn’t working when I tried to enter the password to log in using the flash drive. But using an USB keyboard, I was able to enter the password. I do not know if the problem happened for me only but I think you should know about it.

If you are overly concerned about your PC security, this tool is definitely worth paying price for. For me, I am pretty happy with the features offered by the free version.

If you know of any such software that serves the similar purpose, share with us. And also if you face any problem regarding this software let us know.