You’ve got passwords for everything. Passwords for your email, passwords for your Facebook and your Instagram and your Snapchat. You’ve got a password for your Netflix account and a password for your bank account. You probably have a password to log on at work, passwords for all your different online accounts, a keycode to get into your apartment building, then you walk up to your very own desktop computer, turn it on and…yep, Windows 10 wants a password to log in with, too.
For many computer users, particularly home users who are the only people with access to their machine, having a password to get into Windows is a layer of security that we didn’t ask for and don’t need. That said, think about whether there are sensitive or personal data on your computer that you wouldn’t want thieves getting ahold of before you proceed with the instructions in this article.
Beginning with the Windows 8 release and continuing on through Windows 10, Microsoft has set up the operating system such that users must type their password to log into their account after every reboot and after every account switch. The Windows 10 password login screen will appear by default for any user account with which a password is associated.
Strong passwords are actually important, even for your home computer. However, if your home machine is physically secured – that is, nobody else has physical access to it – and if there’s not information such as financial information, account login information, or even an embarrassing browser cache, then configuring your system so that you can bypass the actual typing in of the password every time you log on could be a reasonable trade-off for you.
Removing the login screen from your computer to allow yourself immediate access goes a long way in speeding up Windows 10, so in this article, we’ll look at how to do just that. We’re also going to look at some security tools you can use to make your computer secure by protecting the things that really need protecting.
How to Bypass or Disable the Windows 10 Login Screen
Important note – we are not actually taking the password off your account. Instead, we are just configuring your Windows 10 installation so that it doesn’t ask for the password in between user switches and reboots.
- In the search box next to the Windows logo on our desktop, type “netplwiz” and hit return.
- A User Accounts window will appear, listing all the accounts on this computer.
- Click on your user account to select it and uncheck the box labeled “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.”
- Click “OK”.
- When asked, enter the password for this account. This is a security measure to prevent anyone from changing this setting who does not already know the password.
- Click “OK”.
That’s it! You’ve now configured your Windows 10 computer to not bother you with a password screen every time you reboot or switch users.
Security Concerns When Bypassing the Windows 10 Sign-in Screen
You should be aware of the security considerations around bypassing the login screen. It obviously reduces the security of the account but by how much? Well, it’s important to realize that only people actually sitting down at the computer get to bypass the login.
Anyone trying to remotely access your computer still has to know the password. There are really two main things to think about when deciding whether or not to do this bypass.
First, is your computer vulnerable to being physically compromised? If you have a laptop that you regularly take to school or work, and routinely leave unattended for short periods of time, then it seems fairly clear that this would be a terrible machine on which to bypass the login screen.
Conversely, if you have a home office located in the locked basement of your isolated mountaintop home, secured with laser perimeter fences and attack dogs, your machine is relatively physically secure, and you can probably do without the extra protection of a login screen. Though if you’re living in such a home, chances are you’re not the sort who would be considering turning off the login screen in the first place.
Second, do you share access to the machine with other people or are there others in your household who might use your computer when you’re not around? If you have children, a significant other, or roommates who use the same computer as you do at different times, then leaving your login process unsecured like this is a bad idea.
Your kids can accidentally switch over to your user account, and turn your desktop into a mess just by fooling around. Adult friends or roommates are less likely to metaphorically to completely mess up your configuration (though you’d be surprised by how careless some people are), but may be tempted to go snooping in your private folders or to play whimsical tricks like renaming every file on your desktop to “Pirated Pr0n Videos” just to prank you.
If you feel the odds are low that someone will physically access your machine and, even if someone stole your computer they would not find much useful data on your machine, then this article’s for you.
Adding Security to Appropriate Areas
Whether or not you bypass the Windows 10 login screen, it would be wise to add appropriate levels of security to the parts of your computer that are most vulnerable or most important.
In determining where you need security functions and how extensive they should be, security experts recommend looking at the combination of the importance of a data loss in an area and the odds of the data loss occurring in the first place.
That is, if you have two areas of potential data loss, either of which would be catastrophic, but one of the areas is of a type where a data loss could practically never happen, and the other is of a type where a data loss is quite possible, you should put much more security in the second area than in the first.
The consequences of a loss would be the same in either place, but it is only in the second area where you are actually likely to run into a problem.
Encryption for Privacy and Security
One simple way to protect information on your computer is by encrypting folders or files that contain sensitive information. For example, folders containing your tax returns or investment/financial information are a good choice for encryption.
Encrypting a directory is extremely fast, and working with encrypted files basically just involves typing in a password once in a while. Even consumer-grade encryption is basically impossible for a private party to break, requiring absurdly high amounts of time with a powerful supercomputer. Higher-grade encryption can protect your data from just about anyone.
Windows offers a set of highly functional, if bare-bones, built-in encryption tools. Alternatively, there are many high-quality free or premium commercial encryption utilities. We have a complete introduction to encryption that will get you up to speed on the topic if it’s new for you. It’s important for computer users to have a basic understanding of encryption and how it can help with security and privacy.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network (VPN) is a method of extending a private network over the public Internet, enabling you to send and receive data as though you were on the same local network. VPN’s are almost always encrypted offering a measure of security and privacy.
Companies typically provide VPN’s to remote workers so they can have secure access to the same files, data, and software tools that they can access at the office.
Installing a VPN is a good idea for anyone who uses the Internet, but is an absolutely essential task if you are using the Internet to download torrented software, movies, TV shows, or music. The VPN breaks the ability of your ISP to connect the file(s) being torrented with your physical computer, and are thus unable to file DCMA notices or cooperate with criminal prosecutions.
A VPN is a service provided by a company, rather than a piece of software that runs strictly on your computer. (Although many VPNs also have a client program that you do run on your computer, making things a little complicated.) There are many VPN companies out there, with different features and pricing. We have a review of the best VPN providers, along with the best VPNs for security, and of course a guide to installing your VPN client on Windows 10.
Password Management for Convenience and Security
We highly recommended that you use a password manager so you don’t have to remember passwords and you’re not tempted to use the same password across multiple accounts. If you use the same password across accounts then if one account gets hacked, then multiple accounts can be hacked.
Also, Password Managers actually make it easier to log into accounts because the password manager makes it easy. With a password manager, you don’t even have to know what your passwords are or type them in manually. It makes life online a lot easier as well as secure.
As I talked about in the introduction to this article, you have a lot of passwords in your life, for everything from personal finance to your kids’ movie channel subscriptions.
Passwords are supposed to increase security, but they often end up compromising it. Being human, we tend to use the same passwords for everything, which means that once a hacker has compromised one of them, they can usually get into all (or at least a lot) of your other accounts.
To make things worse, if we don’t use the same passwords for everything, most of us keep a piece of paper somewhere in our office with all the passwords written down. Handy for us, and of course even handier for the lucky burglar/hacker who decides to compromise our computer systems.
A password manager is a program that runs on your computer, or as a service on a website, that keeps track of your passwords for you without having to use ‘momsdiner1298’ for everything or putting everything in your life on a Post-It note on your monitor. There are a variety of great services out there.
Have any other security and privacy tips to share with the community? Do you think it’s too risky to turn off the login password on your computer? Why or why not? Please let us know what you think in the comments below!