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GateKeeper locks and unlocks your computer when you walk away

GateKeeper locks and unlocks your computer when you walk away
4 min read

We all can relate to the pain of having to manually lock and unlock your laptop — especially when you’re around other people. It’s just not a good idea to leave your laptop unlocked when you’re not around to protect it. Plus, it’s not just a problem in coffee shops — crowded office environments have the same issue.

That problem is what GateKeeper set out to fix with their proximity-sensitive key that locks your laptop , or standard computer, when you walk away from it, and unlock when you come back. But does it actually live up to the promise?

First, let’s take a look at what GateKeeper actually is. The first portion is a little USB dongle that plugs into your computer and stays in there at all times. The second portion is the battery-operated keychain remote. This stays with you at all times. The idea behind GateKeeper is that when the keychain is in near-proximity to the dongle, your computer is unlocked. When you walk away, it locks your computer, and then when you come back, your computer unlocks. It should do all this without lifting a finger.

Let me describe my testing experience. I used it on a Windows laptop, and also tried out the beta software on my MacBook. As far as the software goes on Windows/Mac OS, it’s quite good! Everything is intuitive, and settings are easy to change. I’m not going to dive into the software in this review, as there’s nothing noteworthy in it.

How about the actual experience, though? This is where I have a couple of things to say. So, in order for GateKeeper to be a successful and well-built product, it should work as expected about 99% of the time. Any less than that, and companies and individuals won’t be able to trust it. Sadly, in my experience, I found GateKeeper to be fairly inconsistent in its performance.

When I walked away from my Windows computer, sometimes it would lock right away, but more often it didn’t lock right away — something required for this product. Occasionally, it didn’t even lock at all. I tried multiple settings, multiple times, and the end result was generally inconsistent. Unlocking was a similar story. Sometimes my computer would unlock right as I was sitting down, but other times it would take a couple seconds. Tapping the key against the dongle did seem to unlock it right away, but something that takes a few unnecessary steps is a productivity hindrance. Other times, while the key was in my pocket, the computer would just lock right then and there. It seems to have a mind of its own.

As for operation on my MacBook, it was even worse than on Windows. I’m cutting GateKeeper some slack in this regard because the software is beta, but it was inconsistent with locking, and unlocking was an even bigger issue. One time the software glitched out and froze my whole computer in a locked state while you could still see my screen, but I’m attributing that to the beta software. However, there’s one really bad implementation with the Mac OS version: it doesn’t actually lock your computer. Instead, it’s basically a fullscreen app that can be closed out of without much effort or knowledge of the operating system. That’s absolutely unacceptable for a security product.

So, does the promise of GateKeeper hold true for me? Sadly, no. My experience lines up with many others: inconsistency. It’s a great concept, and the sub-$50 price tag is even quite affordable, but the execution isn’t reliable. That experience isn’t surprising to me, though, because proximity-sensitive products often come packed with flaws. Because of this inconsistency, I don’t recommend GateKeeper. If there is a new version of the GateKeeper that gets released in the future, then I would hope that fixes some of these issues that I mentioned, but for now, just don’t get this product — chances are, you won’t be happy with it.

GateKeeper on Amazon

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