So, you’re thinking about buying a Kensington lock for your Chromebook.
Or you bought one already and need to know how to use your K lock.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What Kensington locks are, if they’re effective, and the different types of locks you’ll find on a Chromebook
- How to use a Kensington lock on your Chromebook
- Resetting and replacing a lock slot
- Getting the most out of your cable block
- Best practices to secure and protect your device from being stolen
- The best Kensington locks on the market that are compatible with Chromebooks
- And more!
You’ll have everything you ever wanted to know about using a Kensington lock and cable. And probably more than you need to ever know.
I’ve also included a quick buyer’s guide if you’re interested in buying a Kensington lock that’s compatible with Chromebooks. It should help you narrow down your options.
If you have questions, leave a comment and ask me!
Sound good? Let’s stop your Chromebook from being stolen.
What’s a Kensington lock?
A Kensington lock is basically a security lock that helps prevent theft.
It’s not exclusive to Chromebooks or laptops, as you’ll commonly find it on desktops, monitors, routers, and other expensive electronics.
They were first introduced around the year 2000 and Chromebooks are equipped with this lock.
They’re also known as K locks, K slots, physical locks, or key locks.
The point of it is that you attach a security cable to the lock on your device.
How do they work?
Think of it like a bike lock. You buy a physical cable that attaches to the slot on your Chromebook to hold it in place.
This offers an additional layer of protection against thieves who may try to steal your laptop.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should lock it and leave it there while you get a cup of coffee in your local coffee shop.
Do they prevent theft?
The lock deters theft because they have to deal with a cable, key, or lock combination.
The small port on your Chromebook can be attached to a Kensington cable, which can be as cheap or durable as you want. Definitely buy the secure one.
A cheap cable made by some random brand can’t be trusted. If you’re going to try to secure your Chromebook from theft, you might as well do it right. Right?
The cable attaches on one end to your Chromebook and the other to some secure post (coffee table leg, bar, handrail, etc.).
These really aren’t that common anymore. You rarely see K locks being used in public.
But other countries, airports, or people with sensitive data or expensive equipment use them.
Each cable can be controlled by a key, a combo lock, or some other high-tech security gadget nonsense that surpasses my limited knowledge about this stuff.
Should you buy a Kensington lock for your Chromebook?
Chromebooks in general are cheaper compared to regular Windows laptops.
So even if yours does get stolen, the value of it overall is on the low end. Some locks even “guarantee” that they’ll work and protect your device- some even with an insurance policy.
Yes, there are expensive Chromebooks also, but the majority of owners have the average entry-model which fetches a price tag between $100-300.
This is cheap for a laptop!
But if you have an expensive one or you just have sensitive data, consider using the Kensington lock. I mean, it’s already built-in to your device. So use it.
Sometimes I’m surprised that Chromebooks even have K locks in the first place.
How secure are Kensington locks?
Just like the name implies, Kensington locks are made to secure your device from theft.
They’re only as secure as you make them out to be.
Even with a K lock, your Chromebook is never fully secure.
There are many variables that can affect your Chromebook’s security:
- The quality and durability of the cable
- Damaged or compromised K slots on the device
- The physical object you attach the cable to
- Other security best practices, like locking your Chromebook when you step away, signing out of your account, or choosing strong passwords.
- Keeping your Chromebook updated for security patches
- Using 2FA
Are they effective?
Yes, K locks can be effective as an additional layer of protection to prevent your Chromebook from being stolen.
They can deter or repel thieves in the area if you need to step away briefly.
But no laptop is completely secure.
Your Chromebook can still get stolen (cable cut, detached from a physical object, etc.) even with a Kensington lock. This is why security revolves around you and your habits.
You can’t rely on any single feature to fully secure anything.
Passwords can be hacked. Cables can be cut. Operating systems can be exploited. Don’t rely on one thing to be safe from theft.
Use a combination of security measures (covered later), exercise best practices, don’t be overconfident, always secure your account details, and use common sense.
K locks are effective as the cables are difficult to cut and trying to remove the lock out of the Chromebook will damage the device.
This is the main defense against trying to resell the Chromebook.
A laptop with its K lock torn out or mangled doesn’t really pose a legitimate device form a legitimate seller.
This alone can deter theft because they know a damaged Chromebook isn’t worth their time.
Do all Chromebooks have K locks?
The majority do.
There may be a few models that don’t (older ones), but most are equipped with a Kensington lock. You just need to buy a compatible cable and you’re all set.
Types of Kensington locks
There are 4 different types of lock slots found on Chromebooks:
- Traditional T-Bar lock
- Nano saver lock
- Noble lock
- Wedge lock
The most common type is the T-Bar lock. The majority of models out there utilize this type of port, especially older models.
Anything made from 2000 until around 2016 uses the T-Bar style lock (around 99% if I had to estimate).
Up until recently, Noble is a new player in the space and makes Wedge locks, AKA Noble locks. They’re found on some Dell Chromebooks and aren’t compatible with traditional T-Bars made by Kensington. But Kensington makes locks that are compatible with Wedge locks.
You’ll have to check your lock slot carefully if you have a Dell Chromebook, especially newer ones.
The Nano saver lock is made by Kensington and is found on some newer HP Chromebooks. This is another thing to watch out for. It’s a different type from their older T-Bar type.
How to tell if a lock is compatible with your Chromebook
Yes, there are many locks out there. But you can really narrow it down by process of elimination to find the right lock.
If you’re confused about which lock slot your Chromebook has, ask yourself:
- Who’s the manufacture?
- When was it made?
You can find the answer to both of these questions by checking the label on the bottom of your device. There’s a sticker. Don’t worry about all the random text and print. Find the manufacturer and the manufacture date.
If you’re lost, I wrote a post that teaches you how to find out who made your Chromebook and when it was made.
With both of these pieces of info, you can start to narrow down your options.
- If you have a Dell, you may have a Noble lock (Wedge lock). The Dell Chromebook 13 has a Noble lock.
- If you have an HP, you may have a Nano lock.
- If you have any other brand, you probably have a T-Bar lock.
Of course, there are always exceptions and these are very basic guidelines. You’ll have to compare/contrast product pictures to be sure.
Read reviews of the product. Ask a question. Or contact Kesnginton to ask them directly if the lock will work on your device.
There are a lot of different locks out there, made by Kensington and other third parties.
The lock design is patented, but there are multiple brands that make the locks. The majority should work as long as it’s advertised to fit K locks.
Since it’s not practical to list every single lock in existence, you’ll have to do your research.
But just go with a trusted name backed by decent reviews and is advertised to work with Kensington locks. Anything by Kensington themselves work.
Other brands? You’ll have to read and do your research.
Since the lock design hasn’t changed since 2000, they should all be compatible as there’s only one type of “fit” but many different types of locks. This is true for the T-Bar.
Beware of cheap knockoffs and third-party products that are scammy.
Which type of lock should I get?
There are different levels of security depending on how you use your device, your profession, and your environment.
- For example, a student taking her laptop to the library only needs a basic lock. Chances are low that someone will cut the cable or do a hit and run with the Chromebook.
- On the other hand, a traveling, high-profile business owner will need something more secure.
Theft in airports, coffee shops, or WiFi hubs around the world are a little more scary compared to a college library.
Thus, the business owner should invest in a stronger lock with a combination padlock.
The student can get away with a basic keyhole lock.
How much do Kensington locks cost?
Kensington lock prices range from as cheap as $8 up to $60. The average price is about $30.
You can get a decent one for about $30-40 and it should defend your device well against most kinds of theft.
For a Chromebook, that’s almost 30% of the cost of the device. It’s a big investment strictly looking at percent.
But then again, some people want to protect their valuables or sensitive data.
How does a Kensington lock work on a Chromebook?
A K locks works the same way on a Chromebook as any other device. If you’ve ever locked up a bike to a bike rack, then you know how to lock up a Chromebook.
There’s no special technique or methodology needed.
Just plug in the locking mechanism, secure it to a heavy or non-movable object, and lock up!
How to use a Kensington lock on a Chromebook
For detailed steps, here’s how you lock up your Chromebook with a K lock.
Note that depending on your cable’s mechanism, these steps may vary slightly.
You should ALWAYS follow your manufacturer’s directions as they have the best advice for operating your lock.
But here’s a general process of how to use one.
Attach a Kensington cable lock to your Chromebook
- Buy a quality lock based on your lifestyle (student, business, traveler, etc.)
- Read the manufacturer’s directions (steps, warnings, warranty, etc.)
- Secure the attachment point to a stationary object and make sure it locks around it.
- Secure the other end to your Chromebook’s Kensington port.
- Double-check both ends to make sure they’re actually locked.
- Lock the mechanism using the padlock with the key or roll the combination rollers to lock the cable to your device. Or if you have a keypad or some other mechanism, lock it accordingly.
- Use your Chromebook happily.
After you’re done, unlock the laptop lock and pack up.
Or punch in the combination.
Some K locks come with a travel or storage case for easy portability.
Your Chromebook should be now locked to the object.
This will reduce the chance of it being stolen by oncoming theft. Remember that no laptop or security measure is ever 100% secure.
Always follow safe protocol, best practices, and common sense.
What you should attach a Kensington cable to
If you’re wondering:
“What should I attach my cable to?”
Here’s a list of the most common objects that are more secure and offer better protection against theft.
- Table legs
- Undertable supports
- Desktop USB port locks
- Table notches
- Floor locks
- Desktop monitors/towers
- Charging stations
- Airport handrails
- Airport seat bars
How to reset a Kensington lock
If you have a combo K lock, you can reset the combination following the directions provided by the manufacturer.
But note that the majority of locks require that you know the current code to reset it, or else it’s useless because any stranger who knows the process can reset the code.
So if you know the code, you can reset it to something more secure or change it.
Some locks may have a backup unlock method, such as a key for combination locks. But this is rare and I couldn’t find proof of any leading brand that offers this.
Most just have a “set your own code” feature that usually has 4 dials with over 10,000 possible combinations.
Thus, if you forgot the code or it doesn’t work, you’ll have to contact the maker to see how you can possibly get it replaced.
Can Kensington locks be picked?
Yes, they can be picked, broken, cut, and just about anything else.
Even a Bic pen cap can pick a low-grade lock.
There are plenty of videos online that showcase how easy it is to pick one. So I’m not going to say that they’re pick-proof.
Whether the videos are fake or not, you should NEVER rely solely on the lock to protect your Chromebook against being stolen.
How to replace a Kensington lock
Did your Kensington lock break? Is it stuck or not working correctly?
Here are some options on how to fix your Chromebook’s Kensington lock.
Use the manufacturer’s warranty
If your Kensington lock is broken, the first thing you should do is check if your device is still covered under warranty.
Most Chromebook manufacturers have a two-year warranty by default, so you can have it repaired by OEM professionals or often replaced.
The problem is that they usually take weeks to complete the repairs and may gouge you on the shipping.
So first check up on that. See how much it costs if you’re still covered.
Return or exchange it
The second option is to return or exchange it at the electronics dealer you bought your Chromebook from.
l this is much easier in my opinion than trying to use the manufacturer’s warranty.
Most places have a generic return window for electronics.
And if you bought the extended warranty, nice job! This is where it comes into play. Use it and get your money’s worth.
Take it to a repair shop
There are no shortages of repair shops for electronics all over the US (unless you’re really out there). You can bring your device with you and get a quote.
Shop around and find the best deal. Fixing a lock is actually mainly just labor. The replacement parts cost very little so you may be able to get a good deal.
Fix it yourself
Don’t have the warranty coverage anymore?
The last option would be to replace the Kensington lock DIY style. If your Chromebook is old or you’re handy with electronics, the lock is actually very easy to replace.
You’ll just need a spare lock port and a few basic essentials like a screwdriver, antistatic mat and gloves, and a putty knife.
Of course, use caution and fully discharge your Chromebook’s battery before attempting anything.
You could expose yourself to electrical hazards and get seriously injured, or you could totally brick and destroy your Chromebook.
Since static electricity is involved here, you really don’t want to mess things up. If you don’t know what you’re doing, take it to a repair shop.
You’re responsible for your own actions and consequences. Proceed at your own risk.
Here’s a video demonstrating the process of replacing the Kensington lock made by HP:
Best Kensington locks for Chromebooks
Plan to buy a Kensington lock but worried if it’s compatible with your Chromebook?
Fear no more. This handy buyer’s guide was made just for you.
Please note that some links to Amazon may result in me getting a small commission on qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect my opinion on the product.
I quickly went through and did some research to pick out these 3 locks. I’ve had experience with 2 of them and my colleague has 1 of them. So I was able to mess around with them for a night and jot down my thoughts.
I also went online and scoured Amazon for reviews. Turns out the ones I already owned are some of the best sellers, so I didn’t bother to order more for review purposes.
As long as it’s compatible, secure, and easy to use, that fits my criteria.
If you’re looking for something to secure your Chromebook for school, work, or out in public, these should do just fine for low to medium risk environments.
They’re pretty much guaranteed to work with the majority of Chromebooks out there. But always do the research and make sure it’s compatible with your specific model. There are some exceptions out there.
Kensington Combination Lock (K64675US)
This cable lock seems to be one of the most highly-rated locks on Amazon. And according to FakeSpot, the reviews are rated a “C” grade, which is average.
It’s a basic wheel-dial combo lock that’s advertised to work with over 99% of computers that have the Kensington security slot.
A tried-and-true combination lock
The four dials let you punch in your own code with over 10,000 possible combinations.
The lock securely attaches to desktops or any fixed structure and comes with a 2-year warranty.
I still have this lying around somewhere and it’s been a pleasure to use. I no longer use it because carrying a cable around is a hassle and I work in a controlled environment.
But from my experience, the combo is super easy to set and the cable is firm and durable. I really have no complaints about it. It’s just a simple combo lock that works and does the job.
Dial wheels and a resettable combination
A basic metal lockhead with 4 in-dial wheels and a trigger release T-Bar. If you want the lock that they’re known for, this is it. The push-button design allows easy release and works even with just a single finger
Tamper-resistant and the T-Bar attaches safely to the internal part of your Chromebook.
The cable is made from carbon steel and has a shear shield. Depending on which version you get, the cable can be stronger if needed.
There’s a “regular” and an “ultra” variant. The only difference is that the ultra is 60% stronger than the regular version.
And of course, there’s an online registration feature you can use for code retrieval in case you forget it.
Personally I don’t really care for these “register your product now!” kind of deals so I can’t comment on them. But it’s there for those who need it.
Works with all T-Bar locks
If you just want something that’s affordable and works for most Chromebooks, this cable lock will do the trick.
There are a few models that are confirmed NOT to work with it- any Chromebook that uses the Noble lock will require a different K lock (such as the Dell Chromebook 13 and similar ones). And some HPs will require a Nano saver lock.
If you have no idea what kind of lock you have, compare and contrast the pictures on the product page. You can also directly contact Kensington to ask them questions.See the ultra cable lock on Amazon.
Kensington ClickSafe Keyed Laptop Lock (K64637WW)
Don’t want to use a combination?
Don’t want to remember random digits?
Then this keyed cable lock will do the trick!
For those who are happy with the old-school, proven, and simple key-based lock, this cable lock fits the bill.
Take key. Put key into lock. Turn key. Unlock.
Spare key and a durable cable
This kit comes with one key and a spare, so you can store one somewhere safe in case you lose your primary key.
The cable is tamperproof and uses a disk-style lockhead combined with durable metal for basic to moderate protection.
Just like the dial lock, this one doesn’t work with Chromebooks that have Noble locks.
Compatible with most Chromebooks
Again, this is less than 98% of Chromebooks if I had to guess. Unless you have a Dell Chromebook 13 that utilizes the Noble lock, you should be okay.
There’s not much to say about this one. It’s a simple cable lock that works with a key.
No wiggle room
The key doesn’t have much wiggle room, so you need to put the key in precisely. That’s probably my major gripe if I had to complain.
Since the lockhead attaches to the Chromebook in a weird position, you may have to tilt your Chromebook just to put the key in without hitting the edges and getting stuck.
Adjustable, rotatable, tilting hinge
The hinge is nice. It rotates and pivots to a full 180 and 360 degrees. But even then, the key doesn’t fit nicely unless you insert DIRECTLY and PRECISELY in the right position.
The T-Bar locks to your Chromebook without any jiggle and the cable feels nice and durable. No complaints about those.
The lock is also advertised to be tamperproof to resist lockpicking with the disc-based system.
I have never caught someone trying to mess with the device, so I can’t comment on how well it actually holds up against theft.
Now, I bought this many lightyears ago, so I can’t say if the model has evolved and changed over time.
Or if it’s just the fact that I put machine grease into the lock to try to loosen it up and it backfired. Who knows. Your results may vary.
Somewhat awkward to attach
Attaching the lock also can be a pain. You need to use both hands because the dome and lock will move around and it can be hard to get it to click.
When you remove the lockhead, the entire plate and ring will both dislodged. This can make it easy to drop the lock accidentally.
The design could be improved, but overall, it’s a budget Kensington key lock that does the job.
It just has some strange habits. If you’re trying to protect your Chromebook at work or school, this should be a worthy consideration.See the reviews for the ClickSafe lock on Amazon.
T-Bar Kensington Cable Lock Slim Design (K65035AM)
This last lock is a simple cable that uses a keyed feature to unlock.
The design is a lot slimmer and thinner than the previous locks so you can easily transport it aground in your case or sleeve.
After all, if you’re using a laptop, you probably need some degree of portability right?
So using a Kensington lock with a thinner and smaller design only makes it easier to carry around.
The lock features the same pivoting lockhead with a 10mm design to secure thin laptops with an anti-pick tubular lock.
The cable is a 6 feet steel carbon with a shear sheath to make it cut-resistant. This lock comes with an 8-year warranty, so it’s much better than the two previous ones.
I wouldn’t use this for high-end devices though. But for a cheap budget Chromebook, this lock makes an easy and affordable purchase to protect your device from theft.Check out the slim design of the lock on Amazon.
Noble, Nano, and Wedge locks
If you have a Dell or HP, you may need a Noble lock, or Nano saver lock.
- For Chromebooks like the Dell 13, here’s an example on Amazon of the Noble lock (AKA Wedge lock)
- For some HP Chromebooks, here’s an example on Amazon of the Nano saver lock.
Other ways to protect your Chromebook
Here are some other steps to take to secure your laptop.
Slip on a Chromebook sleeve
A sleeve is one of the best ways to protect your device from small drops, scratches, bangs, and bruises.
This ain’t gonna do much to prevent someone from stealing your Chromebook, but for those who want to prevent damage, consider getting a sleeve.
You can get many different types of sleeves on the market- everything from form-fitting ones that fit like a sock to sleeves that are waterproof, drop-proof, or even MIL-spec (military grade).
For those who are constantly on the go and need something portable, lightweight, and flexible to fit into a backpack or travel bag, a sleeve is THE way to go.
Get a strong Chromebook case
On the other hand, a case can protect your Chromebook from small drops and bumps that are part of everyday tasks.
If you travel around, you know how easy it is to scratch or bump your laptop against a wall, table, or even bus door.
This is why you should consider using a hard-shell case to protect your investment.
These cases are much more durable compared to sleeves at the tradeoff of being bulkier, heavier, and not as portable.
But if you’re serious about protecting your laptop, a case offers the best of both worlds.
You get a shell that acts as a shield against drops, water, spills, rain, ice, scratches, bumps, and wear and tear. The only drawback is that it’s heavier and bulkier.
At the same time, if you get a shell case, it may even help deter thieves from stealing your laptop because they don’t know what’s in it and the value of it. I don’t know- that’s just a random benefit of laptop cases. I have no idea if it’s true.
Use a screen protector
And lastly, for those that are paranoid about scratching their screen, a screen protector is the answer.
There are many different types of screen protectors on the market and they do a lot more than just prevent scratches:
- Filter your privacy from onlookers
- Prevent finger grease and oils
- Prevent scratches from stylus pens, fingernails, and other input devices on touchscreens
- Saves your screen from smudges, especially on convertible “all in one” Chromebooks where you need to constantly adjust the screen
- Protects your screen from bacteria and germs by making it super easy to clean
The cost is worth the money that it’ll save you down the line.
If you have a regular clamshell and no touchscreen, consider getting on anyway just to make removing smudges and fingerprints easier.
Not to mention that it’ll make cleaning your Chromebook screen a lot faster. Use a few spritzes of rubbing alcohol, wipe, and you’re set.
How to secure your Chromebook
Here are some ways you can make your device more secure.
This will help make it harder for someone to get access to your account.
Both online and if your Chromebook gets stolen- you should always be prepared before it’s too late! Taking a few seconds of your time now may save you hours of headache later in the future.
Use a strong password
Yeah- how many times have you heard this before?
But then again, do you actually do this?
- Do you create a new password for every site you use?
- Do you mix up letters, numbers, and casing?
- And do you use made-up words that don’t exist?
Creating a strong password is a given. You know this by now.
Here are some basic pointers:
- Use a combination of upper and lower-case letters
- Use numbers and unique symbols
- Don’t use easy to guess passwords
- Use a password manager if you don’t want to memorize another set of credentials
- Use a unique password per each account
- Don’t use actual words- make one up
2FA, or two-factor authentication, is something that not enough people use.
You probably already know what it is- where you need to confirm a code through a call or SMS on your phone to log into your account.
Google Accounts offers 2FA (and works on Chromebooks). And you should definitely use it.
These days, nearly everyone has a phone with SMS (text messaging). So there’s really no reason not to enable 2FA on your account.
How does two-factor protect a Chromebook from theft?
This will protect your account from people signing in even if they know your password. Let’s say your Chromebook gets stolen.
The thief tries to log into your account and happens to know your email and password.
They’ll still be unable to access your files because the SMS code will be sent to your phone, which hopefully you’re still in possession of.
As you can see, this can prevent many different types of attacks:
- Brute forcing (guessing) passwords
- Leaked credentials
- Hacked passwords from other sites from your other accounts
- Stolen Chromebooks that are still logged in
If your Chromebook gets stolen, you should access your Google Account from any other device.
Go to your account settings and choose to “Log out all other sessions.”
This lets you sign out all other accounts, including the one on your Chromebook. This can help prevent the access of your account through your Chromebook, which is useful if your laptop was stolen and you were still logged on.
And if you’re afraid of being locked out because you lose your phone or don’t have access to it, Google provides you with a downloadable list of access codes also as a backup.
Plus you can add a secondary email. So there’s really no excuse to use 2FA.
You don’t even have to do it every time as you can make Google remember devices you logged in on, such as your stationary desktop or workstation.
But I wouldn’t use that on your Chromebook though, as that defeats the purpose.
Don’t choose an easy combination
On your Kensington lock, don’t choose easy-to-guess combos like “1234” or “0000” as that defeats the point of the lock.
Don’t use your birthday or your favorite numbers.
Use something hard-to-guess.
Store your key somewhere safe
For those with a K lock that uses a key, never duplicate or make backups of it unless you know you can secure them (such as a safe or lock).
Don’t put the key somewhere that’s easy to find or tell strangers where you keep it.
These are basic safety measures to take and you should exercise them.
Keep your Chromebook updated
Keeping your Chromebook updated can help patch the latest security exploits.
Chrome OS isn’t invulnerable to hacks, exploits, or even malware.
But it’s pretty darn close.
Still, you should ensure that you let your device restart to apply the updates. Chrome OS downloads them for you automatically but requires a restart to actually update to the latest version.
If you never restart your device, you’ll never get updated.
Get security extensions
There are plenty of security extensions you can use to lock down Chrome.
Everything from ad trackers, ad blockers, and forcing HTTPS exists as an extension.
Did you know over 79% of browsers are secretly being tracked?
I wrote about this already, so feel free to check out the post for the details.
Backup your important stuff
Keeping your data backed up is just as important as securing your device. It’s easy to make regular backups on a Chromebook.
Always ensure you’re making regular backups can also help you quickly restore your Chromebook in the event that it crashes, breaks, or gets stolen. Who knows.
You may even brick your device trying to do some cool stuff. But who cares? You have a backup!
Use common sense
Last, but not least, is to exercise common sense at all times.
- Does that site look fishy? Stay away from it.
- Don’t know who sent that email? Don’t open it. Don’t get phished.
- WiFi network not secure? Don’t connect to it or use a hotspot from your phone.
- Never leave your laptop out of your sight in areas that you’re unsure about.
- Don’t leave the lid open and sign into your account. It’s pretty much just being safe and thinking about all the possibilities of theft.
All your FAQs about Kensington locks answered
Did you get questions about Kensington locks and Chromebooks answered?
If not, leave a comment and ask me. I try to get back to everyone within 24 hours.
Or if you own this page helpful, let me know also. Consider telling a fellow Chromie =].
Thanks for reading.