While setting up a password for Windows OS is a viable solution for preventing unauthorized access to your machine, an amazing free application like Predator manages to offer an even more efficient and simple way of doing it.
With this program you can turn any USB flash drive into a key that can lock/unlock your computer. While the flash drive is inserted in the computer, normal access is enabled and as soon as you unplug it the screen turns black and the mouse & keyboard are disabled. To prevent crafty individuals from trying to override these security measures, Predator is equipped with a few more dedicated settings.
Installation & Requirements
The download archive contains two files, a Windows Installer and an executable file. Running either of them deploys Predator’s setup which should pose no problems since the options are the usual ones.
At first run a dialog window requires users to insert the USB flash drive and define a password in the Preferences dialog so that the program can create a key on the thumb drive.
Two Predator versions are available for 32 and 64-bit Windows operating systems. The program works on Windows Server 2003 and 2008, Windows XP SP3 (32-bit version only), Windows Vista, Windows 7 and 8. The application also requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile and if it’s not present on your system it will automatically install it.
Predator’s UI is actually its Preferences window. The layout is unpolished but very simple and organized into tabs. In the Main Options tab users can simply define a password and choose for which of the connected USB flash drives (if there is more than one) should Predator create a key. While there are plenty of settings waiting to be tweaked, the program works just fine with the default ones.
Predator checks for the USB flash drive key every 30 seconds, but users can change the time interval. The frequency that Predator modifies the security codes (to render copies of the USB drive key invalid) can also be adjusted. When checked, the “Always Required” option will prompt the user for a password to regain access to the computer even if he’s already inserted the USB thumb drive. This can be a useful extra security measure in case someone has actually stolen the removable flash drive. With this option enabled, whoever inserts the USB thumb drive will have 20 seconds to fill in the password.
By default there is a countdown beep that alerts the user during the last 10 seconds of the total 20, but it can be customized or disabled in the Alarm Options tab. The Advanced Options let users change the program’s language, enable/disable pause, automated update check and log creation. Those who don’t want to retype the password every time they return in front of the computer can simply disable that option.
The grayed-out options can only be modified in Predator Professional Edition, although some of them are enabled by default in the free version of the program.
– Adware-free installation.
– Can create a key to enable/disable computer access on any USB removable storage device.
– The process of creating the key only involves defining a password as Predator will fully protect your computer with its default settings.
– The Preferences window offers users plenty of options to customize their USB key.
– Well organized log.
– The free version allows user to use the same USB thumb drive to protect 2 computers.
– Options only available in Predator Professional Edition are present yet disabled in the free version.
– Extensive documentation is available online (guide, F.A.Q and all of the features explained). However there’s no link within the program that sends the user to the dedicated documentation web page.
Predator is simple enough to be used even by people with little or no experience and the fact that one only needs this free application and a USB thumb drive to ensure reliable protection against unauthorized access on a computer makes the solution it offers both accessible and appealing.