In Windows 10, Microsoft offers a number of ways to log in to your user account in addition to a standard password. This includes facial recognition and fingerprint scanning. However, these are not available on some devices.
However, anyone can use a PIN (personal identification number) to protect their Windows 10 account. And that's a great idea. Let's take a look at the Windows 10 PIN security feature, the differences between a PIN and a password you should use.
What is a Windows PIN?
A PIN ("PIN number" is redundant) consists of a series of digits with which you can log in to your Windows 10 user account thanks to the Windows Hello function. It's easier to type than a full password, especially on a touchscreen device. Regardless of whether you sign in with a Microsoft account or a local account, you can add a PIN to your password.
As mentioned earlier, signing in with a Microsoft account has advantages and disadvantages
Advantages and disadvantages of using a Microsoft account on Windows
. It is required for many Microsoft services and helps to synchronize your settings across devices. This makes it convenient, but some people prefer to use a local PC account that is not tied to anything else.
When you log on to Windows with a Microsoft account, your PC password and your Microsoft account password are the same. Depending on how many other Microsoft services you use, this password can also protect your Skype, Xbox, and Outlook accounts. As a result, compromising your PC password would pose a great risk.
If you use a local account, you can refuse to set a password (which is pretty unsafe). Suppose you set a password that is unique to this computer and is not tied to Microsoft resources. We showed you how to convert a Microsoft login into a local account if you are interested.
How do I set up a Windows 10 PIN?
Access your password and PIN by going to Settings> Accounts> Sign In Options. Here you will find all the settings for your password and your login methods.
Expand that to change your current password password Section and click on the change Button. If you use a Microsoft account, this will change your password for all Microsoft services. If you use a local account, this only changes this password.
Add a PIN to your account by opening it Windows Hello PIN and click Add. You will likely be asked to confirm your account password before setting a PIN.
The minimum is four digits, but you should choose at least six for a more secure PIN. A six-digit PIN offers a million possible combinations, while a four-digit PIN only offers 10,000 possibilities.
You can also check them for more security Add letters and symbols Box. This way you can add extra characters to make it like a password. However, this affects the convenience of using a PIN, so it is not required.
Of course, you should be careful with the PIN you choose. Don't choose something in common, such as 0000 or 1234and don't choose an obvious date like your birthday. You should also avoid duplicating other important PINs like your ATM PIN. This way, someone who stole your PIN cannot intrude into other accounts.
For best results, select a random set of numbers and save it in memory. Or save it in a password manager if you are concerned about forgetting it. If you ever need to change or remove your PIN, you will find these options on this page.
You can also click I have forgotten my PIN to reset it. You will be asked to enter your account password.
Other login options
On the Registration options In addition to PINs and passwords, this page shows several other options. These include Windows hello face and Windows hello fingerprintthat enable biometric security. If you use one of these methods, you must also set a PIN as the fallback method.
While these options are useful, they require compatible hardware that not every computer has. You can also use them if your computer has a fingerprint scanner or a compatible webcam.
The Security key This option allows you to log in with a YubiKey or similar device. This is a highly secure option, but it also requires that you buy the key and have it with you to sign in.
Finally, Image password Have you drawn on a photo to unlock your computer. It's a fun novelty, but not particularly useful.
Windows 10 PIN vs. Password: What should I use?
Protecting an account, like most security issues, is a compromise between convenience and security. A PIN of 1234 is very practical, but also very insecure. It would also take a long time to crack a 100-digit PIN, but entering it is extremely impractical.
Since you can use a PIN and a password together, you don't have to choose between them. When used correctly, a solid PIN is a good compromise between convenience and security. Let's see why PINs are so useful.
PINs are unique for each device
The best security feature of a Windows 10 PIN is that it only applies to one device. It is only used on your computer and is never shared with Microsoft's servers. So if you've set a PIN on your home PC and someone stole it, they'll only be able to access your account if they have physical access to your device. In addition, your PIN cannot log into your Microsoft account like your password.
Therefore, using your Microsoft password to log on to your PC is at greater risk. If you have to enter this password to log in every time, it can tempt you to make it simple and weak. If someone steals this password, they can also sign in to your Outlook email, Xbox account, or any number of other Microsoft services.
Use a PIN and a secure password
If you used a password manager to set a secure password for your Microsoft account, typing it in every time you log in is probably far too complex. Logging in with a PIN solves this problem. You just have to make sure it's good.
We recommend that most users set a secure password for their Microsoft account and combine it with a solid PIN to log on to their computer. In this way, the resources of your Microsoft account are protected and you can easily log on to your PC, especially if you also use two-factor authentication for your Microsoft account
How to secure your accounts with 2FA: Gmail, Outlook and more
for even more security.
Setting a PIN really has no disadvantage. Local account users can also set a PIN, and the same rules apply. However, since a local account only applies to your specific computer, a PIN is just an alternative method of signing in. It doesn't offer the benefits of disguising your Microsoft account password.
Note that you cannot use your PIN when connecting to your PC through Remote Desktop, and you cannot enter a PIN to log in in Safe Mode. Make sure you still have your default password on hand for these situations.
Use your PIN to sign in to apps
As an added benefit, some Windows apps support the use of Windows Hello to allow access to sensitive information, including 1Password and Google Chrome.
For example, once you have logged in to 1Password with your main password, you can enter your PIN to unlock the app next time. You can now enter your PIN in Chrome to automatically insert saved credit card information into forms.
Entering your PIN is more convenient than entering a long password each time. It is therefore worthwhile to set up these connections. Remember that security is only as high as your PIN.
Using a Windows 10 PIN is smart
Now you know how PINs work in Windows 10. When you log on to Windows, the system prompts you for your PIN instead of your password. To log in with your password instead, search for the Registration options Link under the text entry field.
We recommend everyone to set up a Windows 10 PIN regardless of whether you're using a Microsoft account or not. If you also want to secure your phone, check the pros and cons of using a fingerprint or PIN to lock your smartphone
Should you use a fingerprint or PIN to lock your phone?
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