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10 things to do before you lose your laptop

Paul Mah | Sept. 11, 2015
Your laptop computer lets you to stay in touch and be productive regardless of where you are. But if you aren’t careful that portability can be your downfall.

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Whether you’re in the office, at home, in school, or at coffee shops and hotels around the world, laptops are everywhere. The portable computer allows you to stay in touch and do productive work regardless of where you may be physically – especially when you factor in the extended battery life and cloud-based computing applications and services.

On the other hand, the sheer portability of the laptop also makes it vulnerable to unauthorized access or outright theft or lost. Gartner recently estimated that a laptop is lost every 53 seconds.

While nobody plans to lose a laptop, there are some things that you can do to reduce both the risk and the potential legal repercussions should your laptop ever be misplaced or stolen. As with most security measures, the best defense is a good offense. Here are 10 things to do before you lose your laptop.

1. Set up a password with auto-lock.

The first step to protect your laptop would be to set a password to protect your device. While this does not protect you from hackers who can remove your laptop’s hard disk drive to access them directly, it can form a deterrent against non-tech thieves or opportunists with a few minutes’ access to pillage your data or install malware. Don’t forget to set the password to kick in after sleep and when the screen saver begins, too. 

2. Encrypt your hard disk drive.

The easiest way to ensure the data on your laptop is protected is to use a full disk encryption service such as FileVault on (Mac OS X) or BitLocker (Windows). BitLocker is available on the Ultimate and Enterprise version of Windows 7, and the Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Be sure to save the recovery key for the encrypted data in a safe place, which will be needed in the event that data recovery is required on your storage drive, or if your laptop motherboard ever suffers from a catastrophic failure.

3. Set up all your documents to sync.

Losing your laptop is always an unexpected event, and the biggest casualty is often locally stored work documents that are still works in progress, or files that aren’t stored elsewhere (such as your entire photo library that only exists on your laptop, for instance). Consider that the pain of losing that data or those files can sometimes outweigh that of losing the physical laptop itself, it’s imperative that all documents and files of note are properly synchronized to an alternative location.

This can be easily achieved with one of the many cloud-based backup services, such as Dropbox, Box and OneDrive


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