How to Add a Power On Password to a Computer

By Jeff Grundy

While some people use their computers for playing games or casual Web browsing, others use their computers to run businesses, keep private diaries or journals and accomplish other important tasks. Whatever use you have for your computer, chances are that your machine contains data you consider irreplaceable. Using a Windows login password is one way to protect your data, but not very secure against people that know how to bypass operating system passwords. If you want to add another layer of security for safeguarding your data, require a power-on password as soon as the computer starts.

Step 1

Log out of Windows and power off the computer. Restart the computer.

Step 2

Press the designated BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, access key. The key used to access the BIOS setup menu varies, but commonly used keys are "Delete," "F1" and "F2."

Step 3

Scroll to the menu option that allows you to enable password protection for your computer. The menu option name varies on different models of computers. However, common menu option names for setting the power-on password include "User Password," "System Password," "Power-on Password," "System Security." Press the "Enter" key after selecting the appropriate menu option.

Step 4

Use the arrow keys or the "+" and "-" keys to change the value of the "System Password," "Startup Password" or "HDD Password" to "Active" or "Enabled." Once you enable the password option, a pop-up window appears and prompts you to enter a new password.

Step 5

Enter the new power-on password. Enter the password again in the second password field or when prompted. Select the "Confirm," "Enable," "Save Password" or "Yes" option.

Step 6

Click the "Save Changes" or "Save Changes and Exit" option in the system BIOS menu. If your BIOS does not offer mouse support, use the arrow keys to scroll to the "Save Changes" or "Save Changes and Exit" option, then press "Enter." The computer restarts automatically.

Step 7

Enter the new password when prompted. In most cases, the prompt appears as soon as you restart the computer or immediately after the initial logo screen. Use your computer as you normally would after entering the correct power-on password.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not know which key it is you must press to access the BIOS setup menu, refer to the system guide or user manual for your computer. On many computers, the system displays a message that indicates which key you should press to access the BIOS during the initial boot or POST screen.
  • These steps are a general outline of the procedures needed to enable a power-on password. The process varies considerably on different computers. Refer to the user manual or other support documentation to view the process specific to your model computer. If you do not have the user guide or owner's manual for your computer, visit the support website of the system manufacturer.
  • Please note that if you forget your Power On password it is very difficult to reset access to your computer. These instructions include accessing the BIOS. Incorrect changes to the BIOS can prevent your computer from working. Please use these instructions with care.