A Molly-Guard is a physical or software-based protective mechanism designed to prevent accidental activation or interaction with a system, device, or button. The term originates from UNIX system administrators needing a safeguard against users inadvertently hitting a power switch. Molly-Guards are often transparent or easily removable to preserve functionality while adding an extra layer of safety.

Key Takeaways

  1. Molly-Guard is a safety feature designed to prevent accidental shutdown or reboot of a computer system, particularly in multi-user environments like servers and data centers.
  2. The term originated in the UNIX community as a protective shield covering a power switch or reset button, making it more difficult to press unintentionally. Nowadays, it also refers to a simple software package that protects systems by prompting users to confirm they genuinely want to execute a critical command.
  3. Many operating systems and network devices have their own versions of Molly-Guard, either built-in or available for installation, and the software can be customized according to an enterprise’s specific needs and requirements.


The technology term “Molly-Guard” is important as it represents a physical barrier or cover designed to protect crucial system components, such as switches or buttons, from accidental activation or disruption.

The term originated in the computer engineering field, and the implementation of Molly-Guards is crucial in preventing unintended consequences, such as loss of critical data, system downtime, or hardware malfunction.

By having a Molly-Guard in place, it ensures that operators or users think twice before accessing vital controls, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of inadvertent errors and maintaining the overall reliability, safety, and functionality of the system.


Molly-Guard serves a vital purpose in today’s technology-driven world, acting as a safeguard to prevent accidental shutdowns or reboots of important systems. The term Molly-Guard was created in the UNIX operating system environment and refers to a protective measure that shields sensitive buttons or switches from unintentional activation.

Imagine a bustling server room with complex machinery where an accidental push of a button could result in disastrous effects, this is where a Molly-Guard comes in. The concept has since grown and evolved to become an essential feature in modern computing and industrial applications.

In practical use, Molly-Guards can be physical barriers covering essential buttons, or software-based precautions that require a user to confirm their intentions before performing an irreversible action. For example, before executing a shutdown or reboot command, systems may prompt the user to type a confirmation phrase or go through a series of checks to ensure the intended action is deliberate.

From protecting server rooms to safeguarding consumers’ electronics, Molly-Guards continue to play a vital role in mitigating the risks of accidental critical system disruptions and providing a safety net in our increasingly technology-dependent world.

Examples of Molly-Guard

Molly-guard is a term used to describe a protective cover or barrier that prevents accidental activation of buttons or switches. While there aren’t many “official” Molly-guards, here are three real-world examples of devices that serve a similar purpose:

Safety Covers on Game Controllers: Some modern game controllers include a small cover or safety lock that prevents accidental presses of certain buttons, such as the turbo or home screen buttons. This helps to safeguard the game progress and user experience.

Circuit Breaker Lockouts: In electrical facilities or residential electrical panels, circuit breaker lockouts are used as a safety measure to prevent accidental activation or deactivation. These devices physically block access to switches and can only be removed using a key or tool.

Protective Covers for Emergency Buttons: In industrial settings, emergency stop buttons often have a protective cover to prevent accidental activation. This cover might be a hinged, clear plastic shield that has to be lifted up before the button can be pressed, or a secondary button that must be depressed before the emergency stop can be activated. This ensures that the emergency stop feature is only triggered when it’s needed and prevents accidental shutdowns in the facility.

Molly-Guard FAQ

What is Molly-Guard?

Molly-Guard is a software utility that helps protect servers from accidental shutdowns or reboots by requiring a confirmation before executing these actions. It is especially useful in scenarios where multiple users have access to the server, and a single mistake could cause downtime or data loss.

How do I install Molly-Guard?

To install Molly-Guard, simply run the following command on a Debian-based system:

sudo apt-get install molly-guard

For other distributions, please consult your package manager or compile from source.

How does Molly-Guard work?

Once installed, Molly-Guard intercepts shutdown and reboot commands and prompts the user for confirmation. The user must type the hostname of the server to prevent the accidental execution of these commands. By requiring this additional confirmation step, Molly-Guard reduces the likelihood of unintentional server shutdowns or reboots.

Can I customize Molly-Guard’s behavior?

Yes, you can configure Molly-Guard by editing the configuration file located at /etc/molly-guard. Some of the available options include disabling Molly-Guard for specific users or changing the confirmation text. For more information, consult the man page by typing “man molly-guard” in the terminal.

Is Molly-Guard available for non-Linux systems?

Molly-Guard is primarily designed for Linux systems, and its availability on other platforms may be limited. However, the core principles behind Molly-Guard can be applied to develop similar scripts or utilities for other operating systems.

Related Technology Terms


  • Physical security barrier
  • Protective cover
  • Prevent accidental shutdown
  • Server safety
  • Control panel guard


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