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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | System Case | Case Switches ]

The Keylock

Some cases have keylocks, which when locked, essentially lock out the keyboard. The system detects this condition and puts an error message on the screen, effectively disabling access to the computer. This can be useful in an office setting to prevent casual access to a computer that is normally kept off. It can also effectively prevent your kids (or parents! :^) ) from booting your PC when you are not around.

The keylock should be considered a minimal security device. The keylock prevents the system from booting, but this doesn't prevent someone from opening up the box and disabling it. I can get around a keylock with three minutes and a screwdriver--but I can't do that when people are around, as it would be very noticeable. This gives you a good idea of how much to trust this device. If you really need security for your PC, there are numerous hardware and software products on the market that can be used to give you some peace of mind (although a locked office is probably best and simplest in many cases). See this section in the Optimization Guide for more ideas.

The keylock from one of my PCs, an old Gateway 486 tower
model that has been upgraded so many times that all that's left
of the original is the case and power supply. :^)

The main problem with keylocks, of course, is that if you lose the keys you will have to get new ones somehow or get a technician to disable the keylock switch from the inside. To make matters worse, many cases that come with keylocks are interchangeable--the companies aren't bothering making different locks. So if you have an office and buy 10 of the same type of PC or case, any key may unlock any PC, depending on the model. I personally don't use keylocks on individual PCs and usually recommend that people just take the keys, put them somewhere safe--and forget about them. The only major exception to this general suggestion would be for a server in an area where many people have physical access to the machine; the keylock will at least prevent casual tampering (though a locked door is still a better idea.)

Note: The keylock wires are often combined with the power LED wires into a single 5-pin plastic connector, especially on older PCs.

Next: Case LEDs


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