Tag Archives: Windows 10

Windows Pin Security: 4 digits strong enough?

All of us know that the recommended password length is increasing all the time. Currently a complex password is recommended to be 14 characters or more. Instead of a long and complex password, you can also login using Windows Pin Security. The Windows 10 Pin can be as short as 4 digits. Pin is considered to be BETTER than a password. However, the pin looks fairly weak. Is it not?

On the face of it, yes. PIN appears to be grossly inadequate as a protection mechanism. But it is not. Obviously, Microsoft must have thought about it! How is the Windows Pin Security strong enough? Here are the reasons:

Why Windows Pin Security is better than passwords?

  1. PIN works only on that device. Therefore, even if someone knows your PIN, they need physical access to your PC.
  2. PIN is not visible on the network (Wi-Fi or network cable). Password can be stolen just by monitoring your Wi-Fi. PIN is typed locally on the PC. No chance of it being visible on the network.
  3. Many laptops have a special hardware chip for encrypting stuff. Using this chip to manage the PIN makes it impossible for hackers to find the pin. (This chip is called TPM. Never mind what it means.
  4. If someone steals the laptop, they have to guess the pin. As you would expect, there is a lockout setting with TPM chips. If the laptop does not have TPM, you can still use BitLocker and apply a group policy setting to limit failed logins.
  5. It is easy to get your passwords using various methods. Let us not go into details of what these methods are. What you need to remember is never to click on a random link in email or browser and never reveal the password to anyone. (period).
    If PIN is stolen from you, using the same methods which work with passwords, you are still safe because of the 4 reasons listed above.

If you forget your own pin, you must login using another method and reset the pin. Also note that if you enable biometric login (face recognition or fingerprint), creating a PIN is mandatory. Why so? Because, for whatever reason if biometric does not work, you need an equally secure alternative to login (login / password is less secure).  That is why you also need to set up a PIN. These new methods of secure login are called Windows Hello.

In short, if you have a choice, always use PIN (and biometric) instead of username and password with Windows 10.

Windows Pin entry button

Quick Folder Navigation with Windows 10

File Explorer is used routinely to navigate folders and files. Often we move from one folder to another. What if we want to go back to a specific folder in the recent history?  In the file explorer  you see two buttons just below the ribbon Left arrow and Right arrow. This is used to navigate previously navigated folder in backward or forward direction.  In this case you have to click on these buttons multiple times to reach the desired folder.
Fortunately there is a better method of Quick Folder Navigation. Click on the down arrow next to these Back and Forward buttons. This one shows the list of recently navigated folders. Now you can directly choose the desired one. Simple but very useful.

Quick Folder Navigation

Unpin Quick Access Folder

The general rule is: If you see a pin, you can unpin it. That rule fails if you try to Unpin Quick Access Folder in Windows 10. Commonly used folders should be pinned to the Quick Access area. Right click on any folder and choose Pin To Quick Access. Now you can go to the folder in just one click.

Pin to Quick Access

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Unpin Quick Access Folder

In case you want to Unpin Quick Access Folder, you will want to click on the pin to unpin it. Unfortunately, that does not work. You must right click on the pinned item and choose Unpin From Quick Access option.

Unpin Quick Access Folder

Drag drop also works for pinning folders. Drag the folder and drop it IN BETWEEN existing Quick Access Items. Be very careful while doing it. If you drag drop a folder on another folder, the entire folder will be MOVED or COPIED. Undo works in case you make a mistake. The cursor should look like this to PIN it rather than move it:

Drag Drop to add folders to Quick Access

Use Quick Access area to speed up navigation to commonly used folders. If you are working on a project, add those folders as well. After the project is complete, remember to remove the related folders from Quick Access. Although Quick Access has no limit on entries, if you need to waste time to look for a Quick Access entry in a long list, it is not longer quick!

Light bulb

Irritant: How to forget a Wi-Fi hotspot in Windows 10

We often need to forget a Wi-Fi hotspot or change its properties. This was easily possible by using the right click menu (also called the context menu). With Windows 10, there is no context menu. Frustrating! Here is the solution.

Click on the network icon in taskbar to open the list of connections. At the bottom click Network Settings. Now you see another list of Wi-Fi networks. DO NOT go there. Click on Manage Wi-Fi settings.

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Ignore the Wi-Fi Sense settings on top. Scroll down to Manage Known Networks. CLICK (not right click) on the network you want and then finally you see the Forget button.

forget a Wi-Fi hotspot

Enjoy the experience!

Still don’t like the Windows 10 Start Menu? Use Classic Shell

Install Classic Shell. I have been using it since Windows 8 days. Works perfectly. Has all the features you expect (and more) from Windows 7. Extremely customizable. I have already started using it.

Of course the New start menu has many good things. But sometimes, you just want to start a program, search for a file and get going. You don’t want any distractions. That is when you use a start menu replacement like this one. Of course if you Shift Click on the Classic Shell Start icon, you can still get the New Start Menu anyway. So we get best of both worlds.

Windows 10 Classic Shell  Windows 10 classic shell

The only thing I wonder about is, if it is so simple to give the world what they want, why did Microsoft not provide this as an option for so many years. If people had got back their favorite feature, they would have looked at all the “New” features and “Apps” more positively. Even now it is not too late…