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  1. How to Unlock a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 Computer In Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, you can lock and unlock a computer either manually (by pressing the + keyboard shortcut) or using a program (such as a screen saver). For example, you can lock your computer at the office then connect to it from another location and continue working with your documents. When you return to your workplace, you can unlock your system. When a user logs on to a computer, the Winlogon Service stores a hash of the user's password for future unlock attempts. When the user attempts to unlock the system, this stored copy of the password is verified. If the password entered at the unlock-dialog request matches the stored hash, the computer is unlocked. If the password entered does not match the stored hash, the system attempts to perform logon and authenticate the password. If the logon process succeeds, the local hash is updated with the new password. If the logon process is unsuccessful, the unlock process will also be unsuccessful. Note For Windows XP Professional, this only happens when you have Fast User Switching disabled. When you join a Windows XP Professional computer to a domain, the Welcome Screen logon (and Fast User Switching) is disabled automatically. The unlocking process described above was designed to limit network traffic generated by the workstation. However, if you need stringent security, you can edit the following registry setting: ForceUnlockLogon (REG_DWORD data type) under the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion Winlogon If this value is set to 0 (the default value), the system doesn't force authentication; if it is set to 1, online authentication is required to unlock the workstation, which can force a validation at the domain controller for the user who attempts to unlock the computer.