PIN or Password/Password? Which is Safer to Use in Windows 10

By | April 2, 2022

In Windows 10, Microsoft provides several ways to log into your user account apart from the standard password. It includes facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, but that’s not available on some machines.

However, anyone can use a PIN (personal identification number) to protect their Windows 10 account. And doing so is a great idea. Let’s take a look at the Windows 10 PIN security features, the difference between a PIN and a password, and which one you should use.

What is Windows PIN

A PIN (redundant “PIN number”) is a series of digits that you can use to log into your Windows 10 user account thanks to the Windows Hello feature. Easier to type than full passwords, especially on touchscreen devices. It doesn’t matter if you use Microsoft or local account to sign in, you can increase your password with a PIN.

As we’ve discussed, there are pros and cons to signing in with a Microsoft account. This is required for many Microsoft services, and helps sync your preferences across devices. This makes it convenient, but some people prefer to use a local PC account that is not tied to anything else.

If you use a Microsoft account to sign in to Windows, your PC password and your Microsoft account password are identical. Depending on how many other Microsoft services you use, this password can also protect your Skype, Xbox, and Outlook accounts. As a result, having your PC password compromised poses a huge risk.

If you are using a local account, you can refuse to set a password (which is quite insecure). Assuming you set a password, it only applies to that machine and is not tied to any Microsoft resources. We have shown How to Reset Lost Windows 10 Password if you are interested.

How to Set Windows 10 PIN

Access your password and PIN settings by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Here, you will find every setting related to your password and login method.

To change your current password, expand the section Password and click the button Change. When using a Microsoft account, it will change your password for all Microsoft services. If you are using a local account, this only changes that password.

Add a PIN to your account by going to Windows Hello PIN and click Add. You may 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 has one million possible combinations, while a four-digit PIN has only 10,000 possible.

For further security, you can also check the box Include letters and symbols. This allows you to add additional characters to make it look like a password. However, it trumps the convenience of using a PIN, so this is unnecessary.

Of course, you have to be careful with the PIN you choose. Don’t choose something general, like 0000 or 1234, and don’t choose an obvious date like your birthday. You should also avoid duplicating other important PINs, such as your ATM PIN. That way, if someone steals your PIN, they won’t be able to log into other accounts.

For best results, choose a set of random numbers and commit them to memory or save them in a password manager if you’re worried you’ll forget them. If you need to change your PIN or want to delete it, you will find that option on this page.

You can also click I forgot my PIN to reset. You will be asked to enter your account password to do so.

More Login Options

On page Sign-in options, you will see several other options apart from PIN and password. This includes Windows Hello Face and Windows Hello Fingerprint, which allows for biometric security. If you use one of these methods, you must also set a PIN as the fallback method.

While useful, those options require compatible hardware, which every computer doesn’t have. Feel free to use it if your computer has a compatible fingerprint scanner or webcam.

Option Security Key allows you to sign in using a YubiKey or similar device. This is a very secure option but it also requires you to buy a key and have it for you to log in.

Final, Picture Password make you draw on photo to unlock your computer. It’s a fun novelty, but not very useful.

Windows 10 PINs vs. Passwords: What Should I Use

Protecting an account, like most security issues, boils down to convenience and security. The 1234 PIN is super convenient, but also very insecure. Likewise, a 100-digit PIN will take a long time to crack, but is very inconvenient to enter.

Since you can use shared PINs and passwords, you don’t have to choose between them. When used properly, a solid PIN is a huge compromise between convenience and security. Let’s see why PINs are so useful.

Unique PIN 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 passed to Microsoft servers. So, if you set a PIN on your home PC and someone steals it, they can’t access your account unless they have physical access to your device. Also, your PIN can’t log into your Microsoft account like your password.

So, using your Microsoft password to log into your PC is actually more risky. If you have to type in that password to log in every time, it might be tempting to keep it simple and weak. If someone steals that password, they can also get into your Outlook email, Xbox account, or a number of other Microsoft services.

Use a Strong PIN and Password

If you’ve used a password manager to set a secure password for your Microsoft account, it might be too complicated to type every time you log in. Signing in with a PIN solved this problem; You just have to make sure it’s good.

Our recommendation for most people is to set a strong password for your Microsoft account and combine it with a strong PIN to log into your computer. This keeps your Microsoft account resources protected while also allowing you to easily log into your PC, especially if you also use two-factor authentication on your Microsoft account for even more security.

There’s really no downside to setting up a PIN. Local account users can also set a PIN, and the same rules apply. Since a local account is only valid for your particular machine, a PIN is just an alternative way of logging in. This does not offer the benefit of obscuring your Microsoft account password.

Note that you cannot use your PIN when connecting to your PC via Remote Desktop, and you cannot enter your PIN to log in using Safe Mode. Make sure you still have the default password for the situation.

Using Your PIN to Login to the App

As an added benefit, some Windows applications support using Windows Hello to consent to access to sensitive information, including 1Password and Google Chrome.

For example, after you log in to 1Password with your master password once, you can enter your PIN to unlock the app next time. And Chrome now allows you to enter your PIN to automatically fill in the credit card details saved into forms.

Entering your PIN is easier than typing a long password all the time, so this connection needs to be set up. Keep in mind that the security they provide is only as strong as your PIN.

Using Windows 10 PIN

Now you know how PINs work in Windows 10. When you log in to Windows, the system will ask for your PIN instead of your password. To log in with your password, look for the informasi Sign-in options below the text entry field.

We recommend that everyone set a Windows 10 PIN, whether you use a Microsoft account or not.