dWinlock: Limit access to Windows by blocking keys, disabling features, replacing components, etc.

2009-12-12_021533There are times when you may want to restrict access to Windows. This may be when someone else is using your computer, you are playing a video game that requires the use of hotkeys already used by Windows, for security reasons, to play a prank on someone (!!!), etc. For those times, dWinlock can be used.

dWinlock is a software that enables users to limit access to Windows by blocking keys, such as Alt + Ctrl + Del, disabling features, such as the desktop, and replacing components, such as the start menu:

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After you have disabled/replaced/changed/etc. whatever you want, you simply need to go to “Options”, click on “Save Configuration”, and click on “Hide now”:

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dWinlock will then sit in the background carrying out what you told it to do (no system tray icon though); you can call it back by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+W hotkey (this is the default hotkey – it can be changed). dWinlock needs to be on to work – if it is off everything returns to normal. Take note you can also password protect dWinlock, make dWinlock hide automatically on startup, and autostart at Windows boot.

The thing about dWinlock is it is intended to serve as an API for programmers; it is actually commercial software (69 Euros). However, the developer of dWinlock offers a free “demo” of dWinlock (the screenshots you see above are from the demo) which is not time limited or restricted in features. Normal users can make use of the features how ever they want and for how long they want. The only thing is every time you run dWinlock you will get this popup window:

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This popup window is not that bad, since it only pops up once when you run dWinlock. However, the window will pop up even when you start dWinlock at Windows boot or start it hidden, so keep that in mind.

The last thing to remember about dWinlock is even though you can password protect it, anyone can force close dWinlock via Windows Task Manager.

You can download dWinlock from the following links:

Version Reviewed: v3.2

Supported OS: Windows Vista, XP, 2000, NT, Me, and 98

It also works on Win7 just fine.

dWinlock homepage [direct download]

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  • jumbi

    @Samuel & @Ashraf:
    Thank you for your guidelines!

    I did manage to get a couple of returnil licences and gonna give it a try to my friends hotel :-)

  • Nick

    Sounds as a good handy tool.
    Anyone yet who tryed out to replace the Start menu?
    If doing this experiment, does the old menu return back again as it had in the former state before changeing it? Thanks in advance.

  • @Ashraf: One could also use a Linux Live Disk, so that every boot is a new one.

  • Ashraf

    @Samuel: Ditto. I am not either.

  • @Ashraf: Thanks. I only really know about Chrome OS, not to fond of Cloud-based OSes.

  • Ashraf

    @Samuel: Ah, that is a unique way to tackle the problem; go with a cloud-based OS. However, Chrome OS is not ready to be used on a live machine, and I can’t remember the name of that other cloud based OS I just read about the other day – ugh!

  • @Ashraf & jumbi: Another interesting solution would to be to get some OS like Google Chrome OS, since I suspect people only really need to go online.

  • Ashraf

    @jumbi: I was just about to post when Samuel stole the spotlight =P.

    Anyway, this program will work to an extent, but it is not very secure – as Samuel has pointed out – and it doesn’t protect the computers from users making changes, such as downloading malicious files, etc.

    What your friends needs is a software that reverts all changes made to the computer after reboot. For that, he can use SteadyState, Returnil, Deepfreeze, or similar software. SteadyState, of course, is free for everyone, your friend can get one year free of Returnil if he hurries (dotTech’s promotions ends tonight), and Deepfreeze costs $$$. If you friend does decide to go with such a software, just be sure to tell him to inform his customers that all changes made to the computer will be disregarded after reboot so to save all their important files on a flash drive or such.

  • @jumbi: This software could work but if the users is savvy enough it’s very easy to by pass. A better method would be to use Windows built in Guest Account or to use something like Returnil or Micorosft’s Steady State both of which return a system to a set state after reboot.

  • jumbi

    I have a friend who owns a small hotel and inside every room has a PC. He asked me once for a software to limit windows so that customers may not destroy it every now and then…
    (right now he just has image backups of initial installations and when windows are corrupted he re-installs the image).

    Is this software sufficient for such a purpose or would it be more trouble?
    Would you recommend something else for a hotel?
    (every PC is connected wirelessly to a shared DSL and not a central server)

  • @Ashraf: A vaild point, but the flaws are still there.

  • Ashraf

    @Samuel: In dWinlock’s defense, it is not designed to be a security tool so there are bound to be many loopholes. It is made for programmers to incorporate into their programs to perform certain functions.

  • @Ashraf: You can also by pass it by removing it from the statup list and then reboot.

  • Ashraf

    @Samuel: Ah, I didn’t even think about that.

    @Pete: Not really. Anyone that doesn’t know about it won’t know what is going on if they use a restricted computer.

  • Pete

    In reality you can only restrict your grandmom with this program.

  • It can also be by passed by booting into safe mode.