Ask LH: Can I Set A Sometimes Password On My Media Centre?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a Windows 8/Plex Media Centre PC that is always on but requires a password every time it is restarted. I don't want to disable the password entirely in case it is stolen but having the password is inconvenient at home because I have to use the keyboard instead of my remote.

Is there any way to disable my password when connected to my home network but re-enable it if the PC was somewhere else? Something like Tasker on Android? Cheers, Password-Phobic

Dear PP

As far as we know, it's not possible to remotely reactivate your media centre password in the event of theft. Is there any reason why you need to keep the password enabled? With the possible exception of photos and home movies, the data contained on media centres isn't particularly sensitive or useful to thieves.

In any event, media centre reboots are not that frequent, so it shouldn't really be too much of a hassle. If you're paranoid about data loss, consider backing up to a NAS, or setting up a streaming media centre — you can read our comprehensive media streaming guide here. If our readers have any suggestions for PP, make sure to send them through!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    What about a USB-key like http://www.predator-usb.com/predator/en/index.php?

      Sounds like a half decent solution...
      Keep the USB on your keys so when you leave the house, you take the USB!

        There are solutions aimed at laptops and phones that will lock the device when it next connects to the internet once you report it stolen.

        I think you're being a little paranoid though with a home PC.

    How about a smart card/tab solution? Logon with a simple touch.

    Why do you want a Password set on your computer? I can make no sense of this.
    - To make life hard for someone stealing it? They can just format your harddrive.
    - To protect your data? Unless you use bitlocker no password is required to access your data.
    - To stop someone using your computer as is? Resetting a password is straight-forward.

    For another random suggestion that will achieve nothing in practice, you can have your computer lock and unlock based on the presence of your smart phone. See previous LH article.

    I'd recommend;
    1. Set a windows password, but have your computer remember it, so that people on your wireless can't access your computer easily.
    2. Encrypt sensitive data you are worried about being stolen and don't go overboard with this.
    3. Install anti theft software, e.g. http://preyproject.com/.

    Better advice would have been to inform the user that having a password doesn't protect the data on the PC, it only adds a barrier for people who wish to log on to that computer as the user with the password.

    setup a guest account and have that auto login at boot and simply restrict the users access to read only your video media files and remove its access to the rest.

    the truth is once they have your pc it is not hard to get the files unless they are encrypted

    I would permanently connect a yubikey in static password mode with a long usb cable located at a convenient point (near light switch/remote/etc) so you can logon when required. You would also need to turn on full disk encryption.

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