If you are tired of people who use your computer, here is a small trick that will not allow your computer to boot without a USB Drive. It will act as a key to boot your PC. There are two ways of doing this. First is instead a crude method only for those who can modify system files on the computer. Second is a list of free applications that can do the same for you. Let’s figure out how you can lock Windows 10 using a USB drive.
How to lock Windows 10 using a USB drive
Locking the Boot Process: Understanding what you are going to do
- When windows boots, it checks for the primary boot device in bios, which is, by default, is your hard drive.
- Then it looks for a system file called Boot.ini, which tells windows from where to start the boot. Without this file windows will throw you an error ” Invalid Boot.ini ” or “Windows could not start “
So what this trick does? It will make the windows look for BOOT.INI in the USB drive. The Boot.ini files contain the path to the partition where Windows is installed. Since it is not able to find the file in the system partition of hard disk, it will simply halt without the USB key.
1] Make Hidden Files visible
Boot.ini is a hidden file by default. Open C drive and go to Tools > Options > View. Look for Hide Protected system files. Uncheck it. Now you should be able to see the BOOT.INI file.
2] Copy System Files
Copy BOOT.INI, NTDETECT, and NTLDR to your USB stick from your System Drive. ( Usually C Drive)
3] Setting up BIOS
- Restart your computer and keep [F8] key pressed as soon as the computer starts.
- After you get into the BIOS, Look for the menu item where you can change your Boot Device.
- After you find it, set the USB device as the first boot device and Hard disk as secondary.
Next time you restart the computer, it will first look for a USB stick to boot. When it does not find it, it will look for your hard drive. Restart your system now.
4] Renaming Boot file
Now the main trick starts. Rename your boot.ini file as book.ini.bak. This way, you have created a backup file that can be used in case you want to revert back.
5] Checking the setup
Restart your system. Don’t insert your USB stick now. If you have done everything okay, you will be getting boot error. If not, your BOOT.INI file is not renamed correctly.
6] Using USB stick as a key
Now insert your UB stick and reboot. You should be able to see windows loading correctly. That’s all. Now every time you need to load Windows, you will need to use your USB drive.
What if I lose my USB drive, or it fails to work?
You can make a Windows Recovery Disk or Follow the steps here to revert back. What it does is creates the boot.ini file again and your computer boots normally. If this feels geeky, Below is the list of applications that you can use to lock your computer.
Instantly Lock Computers using USB as a key with these apps
- Automated USB lock and unlock function
- Lock file contents are encrypted
- The password to override lock (can be enabled by user)
- Network command to override lock (can be activated by the user)
- USB drive serial number check (can be enabled by user)
- Unique key for each system (can be activated by the user)
- Status report function
It offers a password less access to Windows 10 PC. It will automatically lock your computer when the USB is taken out. You can also disable it for sometime bu turning off the protection state. Download from here
USB System Lock
This application works on similar lines as the above application. It auto-detects your USB drive and then creates a key disk. This key disk has a unique value, which is checked every few seconds. Once the USB is unplugged, the computer gets locked, and there is no way to unlock it without it. Download it from here