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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.

4. Backup your laptop.

Even if you have all of your files properly synchronized to a cloud-based service, you still should consider doing regular backups of your entire hard drive. This offers additional peace of mind that all of your data is safe, including commercially installed software, and documents that were inadvertently placed outside the synchronized folders. Moreover, a backup saves all configuration and settings too, which can also help you get back to work much faster.

Mac users have this built in, via Apple’s Time Machine service. PC users have options like Acronis True Image, which offers a “bare metal” restore capability that lets you restore everything onto a new laptop – even if it’s a different make and model altogether.

5. Switch to a cloud- or server-based email platform.

Despite the obvious appeal of a cloud- or server-based email platform such as Gmail, Outlook and Exchange, far too many users continue to adopt an approach that sees email messages downloaded via POP onto a single client device. The danger here is obvious: Emails could be irrecoverably lost should a laptop containing the critical data be stolen or misplaced.

The bottom line is cloud- and server-based email platforms boast much better reliability, and make it trivial to synchronize all emails across multiple devices.

6.  Make a note of registration codes for hard-to-find software.

Admittedly, the issue of lost registration codes for software that you can no longer find online is becoming increasingly rare due to a preference towards online software activation. But it can still happen. Be sure to check periodically for software that uses registration codes, then record them and save a copy of the software. Registration codes could be stored on a digital note taking service such as Evernote, while installation files can be stored on your usual cloud storage service.

7. Encrypt portable HDD, flash storage drives, too.

If you have a habit of storing your documents on a portable storage drive or USB-based flash drive, don’t forget to encrypt their contents, too. Since these gadgets are typically stored in the same bag as laptops, they’re just as susceptible to theft and loss. There are two main options here: you can use software encryption such as BitLocker To Go, or get an external storage drive that offers hardware-based encryption and authentication. 

8. Set up additional security.

Nothing beats some additional physical security when it comes to protecting an expensive device like a laptop. The easiest approach here is probably by means of a Kensington lock to secure your laptop in the hotel room or at other semipublic locations.

Though all locks can eventually be defeated, even a simple physical lock can go a long way towards making you a less-appealing target – and possibly sending the bad guys elsewhere instead. Alternatively, an alarm system such as the Proximo is a physical fob system that helps you find your items – and which can be configured to sound an alarm when tracked items go out of range.


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