Protect your unattended PC with Predator Free

Lock your PC when you're away with this USB-based security key tool.

If you leave your PC unattended and running in a public area, how do you keep people from using it? You have several options, but one of the easiest we've tried is Predator Free. This free security tool locks and unlocks your PC when you remove or insert a USB drive. When your thumbdrive is removed, Predator locks your PC and darkens your screen if anyone tried to use it without entering the password. You can enable passwords for every operation or just once, which adds convenience if you're often away from your desk. It also logs activity and can sound an optional alarm. If you lose your USB drive or don't have it handy, you can still unlock your PC with your password.

Predator Free is available in separate downloads for 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows. To set up the program, you need to create a password and a security key, but it's easy to do. When Predator's monitoring is active, it places an icon in the system tray that lets users Pause or Edit the program, view log files, and access the Preferences, which include password and encryption key tools, alarm options, and Advanced options, including the ability to enable Twitter-based logging. Predator is very easy to use. We removed our USB drive using the Safely Remove Hardware function in Windows, automatically activating the security key in the set time. We started to use the PC, but the screen went completely blank in seconds. Reinserting the USB drive restored our normal functions.

Some of the program's Advanced options are disabled in the free version, such as the splash screen option and Task Manager. But all the essentials are there, plus some useful extras, such as the ability to use your own sound file for an alarm. For office workers who must leave their PCs on but want to limit access, for students in dorms, for families, or for anyone who wants to restrict unattended access to a running PC, try Predator Free.

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