Burglaries, floods, fires, and even pest damage can ruin items that are “safely” stored in your home behind locked doors. Adding a layer of protection for those items in the form of a home safe is a smart way to keep your important documents and other belongings truly secure. There is a lot to consider when it comes to picking out the right safe for your home. In addition to figuring out what type of safe you want, desired size and other features like fireproofing, it’s important to consider how you want it to lock. There are several different types of locking mechanisms for home safes and each serves a different purpose. Your preferences play the biggest role in determining what type of lock to choose. Are you good at remembering passwords or combinations? Do you prefer super-quick access? Think about it: What would be easiest for you to unlock when you need to retrieve your items? Take a look at four of the most common locks so you can decide which locking mechanism on a home safe is right for you.

1. Dial/Combination

Most people think of dial, or combination, locks when they think about opening a safe — mainly because it is the type often depicted on television or in films. Though more updated versions of safe locking mechanisms exist, a safe with a dial lock is basically “Old Faithful” when it comes to safe purchases, and for good reason. There are 1 million possible combinations on a three-wheel combination lock (and exponentially more if you go up to four wheels) which makes this locking mechanism hard to crack. Some safes with a dial lock come with a combination already assigned; for others, you can set the combination on your own. When possible, avoid writing down your combination so the items inside aren’t vulnerable to thieves who may come across the numbers.

2. Digital Number Keypad

Pressing a few buttons in the right order is all that’s needed to open a safe with a digital number keypad. These electronic safes utilize alpha-numeric strings to keep the items inside secure, and are usually quicker to access than combination safes. You can usually assign a number combination on a safe and update it as you wish, giving you flexibility over time. These are typically more expensive than dial-locked safes and you’ll need to remember to change the batteries about once a year.

3. Biometric

Arguably the most secure form of a locking mechanism, biometric locks implement personal identification items – like fingerprints or retinal scans – to ensure the person trying to open the safe is the right one. Unlocking a safe with biometric mechanisms is quick, as a simple touch or scan will open it. Due to the personalization of this feature, these safes are more expensive than units that use other forms of locking mechanisms. Another thing to note is that though it is rare, there are times the scanning does not work or fails to recognize a saved fingerprint. The technology on biometric safes continues to evolve quickly, so it may be worth waiting a little longer for the kinks to be worked out before buying one.

4. Lock and Key

Many safes come with a standard lock and key method, also called a key lock safe. This manual way of entry is best for people who have trouble remembering passwords and don’t have the budget for a biometric safe. Theft of keys, or the risk of misplacing them, makes this a less secure form of locking a safe. Remember: Burglars know the common places to look for spare keys, which means if someone breaks in and your safe keys are in an obvious spot, the lock will not do you much good. If you do decide on a key lock safe, keep keys in a spot that is not obvious to thieves and consider keeping one key in a safe deposit box at a bank in case other keys are lost. When you’re deciding which home safe is right for you, start by talking to the experts at Western Safe. You will sleep better knowing your most valuable physical possessions are locked up in the best home safe available.