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TechProGuild members can download the
preformatted, ready-to-print version of this FastAnswer handout. The next time this
problem arises in your organization, simply print and distribute the file
directly to end users or members of your IT staff.

The problem

Windows XP prevents
unauthorized logons by requiring a password. Sometimes password protection
isn’t enough, and you may require other ways to authenticate a user. Biometrics
is one option, but biometric reading equipment can be expensive.

The cause

User IDs and passwords
help secure a computer, but all rogue users have to do is swipe another user’s
ID and password, and they can do whatever they want on the computer. You’ve
probably seen passwords, and sometimes user IDs, attached to monitors by sticky
notes, so you know how secure these authentication methods are.

You can purchase
things such as palm and fingerprint scanners for workstations that you want to
secure, but these aren’t always cost-effective and are prone to error.

The solution

Fortunately, you don’t need a fingerprint scanner, retina
scanner, or secure ID card to add a layer of security to your workstation.
Using the Syskey utility, you can instruct your system to require a user to
insert a special floppy before being able to log on to the computer. Without
the floppy, you or anyone else who tries to log on will be locked out of the
workstation. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type Syskey,
    and click OK.
  2. From the Securing the Windows XP Account Database window that
    appears, click the Update button.
  3. The Startup Key window will appear. Ensure that System Generated
    Password is selected.
  4. Click Store Startup Key On Floppy Disk. Click OK.
  5. Make sure there is a blank floppy in the floppy disk drive.

Syskey will then create the boot floppy for


Once you’ve created the floppy disk, you’ll be asked for it
before accessing the Windows logon screen. If you don’t have the floppy, you’re
out of luck and won’t be able to log on. So, a word of advice: Keep the floppy
on you! Make sure you make at least one copy of it and store it in a location
that’s safe and secure in case you lose the boot floppy or in case it becomes