Recently there have been several stories about laptops being stolen. One person had her laptop stolen right from underneath her. She was outside at a coffee shop using her laptop and a guy walked by, grabbed her laptop and started running. According to the report, she has never seen that laptop again. Hunting down a stolen laptop is difficult and is probably not very high on law enforcement’s list of things to do.
Having your physical property stolen is a bad thing. However, it is highly likely that the data (files, documents, pictures, music; etc) on the laptop is more valuable than the laptop itself. Here are a few things you can do to minimize your trouble if your laptop is stolen or lost.
WRITE DOWN YOUR LAPTOP INFO
Write down the name of your laptop as well as the model number, serial number and take a picture of it. Doing these things could prove helpful if you ever need to fill out a police report.
HAVE YOUR INFORMATION BACKED UP
You may never get your laptop back . If you do not have your files backed up that means you will never get your files back as well. You should always have a current backup of your important files. It does not matter if you use CD’sDVD’s, external hard drive or an online service to backup your files, just use something and have a current backup. SecondCopy is currently my favorite backup program.
ENCRYPT YOUR DATA
If someone were to steal your laptop or it’s lost there would be one less thing to worry about if your files are encrypted. Encrypted files are files that can not be read unless you know the password that is required to open (decrypt) the files.
I have very important data on my USB drive. I have actually lost (and found again) my USB drive two times. I was not worried because of two reasons:
1. I had my files backed up of course.
2. Also, I had my files encrypted. If a person plugged my USB drive into their computer all they would see is a jumbled mess of numbers and letters. That jumbled mess is my encrypted files. The files only make sense AFTER you apply the correct password.
Someone could use a password cracking program to discover my password. However, based on the password I use, it would take about 408 years to crack the password. TrueCrypt is an excellent free file encryption program.
HAVE YOUR LAPTOP PHONE HOME
I am sure you have heard of LoJack for your car. If your car is stolen LoJack sends out a signal and it can be tracked which improves your chances of getting it back. Well there is LoJack for laptops as well.
For as little as $40 a year, the LoJack for laptops software will help you locate, lock and recover your computer. It can also remotely delete the files on your laptop if you don’t want the crook to see your information.
USE STRONG PASSWORDS
Don’t make it so easy for the crook to log in to your laptop in the first place. Please use strong passwords. I know you may have to keep up with too many passwords. I recommend using a strong base password and then add a slight variation to it based on where the password is used. For example:
Let’s say my base password is Irlhdicevsa01. This password may seem like it is hard to remember, but it is not. The key is to create your password from something that you know really well or like a lot…something that is naturally familiar to you. I love premium ice cream. To create my base password, I took the first letters from each word of the sentence below and then just added 01 on the end.
I really love Haagen-Dazs ice cream especially vanilla swiss almond.
Again, taking the first letters from each word in the sentence above, I get the base password of Irlhdicevsa. I then just add 01 on the end to make it an even stronger password.
Now with my base password, I can create different and easy to remember passwords for each website that I use. For example, creating a password for my Facebook account using my base password could look something like this
I just used my base password and and added a dash and fb on the end for Facebook. For my Gmail account my password might look like this.
Again, using my same base password and then just adding -gm on the end for Gmail.
I hope this post is helpful to you. Below are links to websites of some of the products and services that could help you better protect your data and your laptop.
LOJACK FOR LAPTOPS INFORMATION:
ARTICLE ABOUT ACTUAL LAPTOP RECOVERIES USING LOJACK TYPE SOFTWARE