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I have toddlers and would like to childproof the power button on my desktop computer which sits on the floor. Unfortunately I don’t have the option of moving it out of reach and I can’t really put any kind of a barrier around the desk.

Some kind of little latching cover is what I’m imagining, but of course it’s preferable if the solution doesn’t involve permanently maiming the aesthetic of the computer case.

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5

The function of the power button is entirely defined by software.

BIOS

This can be a BIOS setting in the power management section. By default the power button (PWR) is set to always power off after a delay of 4 seconds which should be enough time for toddlers to lose interest. Some BIOS allow to also disable this or have different options.

OS

Most operating Systems also allow to define what the power button does. In Windows 10 you will find those in the System Settings Power Options. Look for the power button settings for a choice of

  • do nothing
  • hibernate
  • shut down
  • turn off the Display

A combination of both BIOS, and OS settings may lead to the desired protection until the kids are old enough to operate this button alone.

Only if those fully and easily reversible measures didn't help I would consider a hardware hack.

  • So the best solution might be to completely disable the power button and then use sleep/hibernate instead of turning your computer off. Could put it to sleep from the main menu, wake it up by moving the mouse or pressing a keyboard key. – Headcrab May 17 '18 at 1:47
  • Losing interest after 4 seconds? I knew toddlers that could occupy themselves with button-pushing or similar activities for ten minutes... – Stephie May 17 '18 at 6:57
  • @Stephie of course do toddlers push buttons repeatedly (mine could do that for hours) but they usually won't hold a button pressed for 4 seconds, especially if nothing special happens. It is the concept of many other child-safety measures e.g from fridges, washing machines, or cooking plates. – Takkat May 17 '18 at 7:01
  • Ah, misunderstood the answer then. Thanks for the clarification! – Stephie May 17 '18 at 7:05
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  • Find or cut a piece of stiff plastic that overlaps the switch a bit.
  • Drill a hole (or use a heated nail to do so) a trifle larger than a bamboo skewer.
  • Hold the plastic in place with double-stick wall-mount adhesive (can be removed with ether) or plastic cement (fairly permanent, but can be done esthetically).
  • Cut the skewer down to leave a stub long enough to depress the button.
  • Hide the skewer in a desk drawer when not using the PC.

That said, nothing can resist a truly inventive child's efforts: "The mains cord makes a fun pull toy." "Bashing all the keys makes loud noises." "Will the diaper pin fit the mains outlet?"

3

If you are trying to protect it against being turned on, you can:

  • unplug it after powering down, or
  • plug it into a power strip and turn off the strip after powering down, or
  • plug it into an extension cord, and unplug it from the extension cord after powering down.

If you are trying to protect it against being turned off, I don't have a solution. But I imagine you would be at your computer when it's on (usually), so you could keep the little hands away.

  • 1
    OP writes toddlers - plural - so while chasing one, the other is unsupervised for a moment. – Stephie May 15 '18 at 9:16
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If you are willing to do a major hack...

You can buy a button in any electronic store, such as RadioShack. These are the cheapest thing. Something like this:

A button

You can then open the case of your desktop and find the two wires that go on its power button. Cut those wires, splice new longer ones. Have them come out the back of the desktop case and go all the way to a place where your children cannot reach. Then attach the ends of the wires to the button's contacts. You will have moved the on/off switch to a higher position while keeping the desktop case in place.

If you disconnect the wires from the motherboard, you will have to reconnect them exactly as they were in order to be able to turn it on again. Every motherboard manual has a section detailing the wiring of the on/off button - it goes along with the wiring of the reset switch, frontal USB ports, and for some old motherboards, an internal speaker.

Disclaimer: if you don't feel confortable operating a soldering iron, or if you are not skilled with electronics or electric stuff, this might not be a good idea. You may risk shorting your motherboard. Otherwise, have fun!

  • Good idea... you could even use an inexpensive key switch. – DrMoishe Pippik May 16 '18 at 15:23
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Tape a penny over the power button.

Replace the tape as it loses adhesiveness.

  • 1
    Unfortunately tape is no match for these toddlers – Josh Withee May 15 '18 at 21:04
  • if they are old enough to navigate tape, then I speak confidently as a father and teacher of children that they should be able to be disciplined and taught to not touch something. Perhaps perusing Parenthood Stack Exchange will help. – Adam Heeg May 15 '18 at 23:43

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