What is the single most valuable thing you own? For most of us, it’s a car or a house. Aside from those, however, I’d venture a guess that your most valuable possession is your laptop computer. I know my custom-built MacBook Pro was by far the biggest purchase I’ve ever made.
Beyond the obvious value of what you paid for it, your laptop also likely has tons of your personal information on it. I know I have my banking information, all my receipts and financial records, my photos, and lots of my scrapbook memories on mine, as well as software that I’ve purchased and installed.
Now, obviously, no one is going to walk off with your house, and your car has its own insurance. But how do you protect your laptop from theft? After all, it’s lightweight and easy for a thief to just walk off with.
You can’t put it into a safety deposit vault at the bank (well, ok, you could, but then it would be about as useful to you as if it was stolen!), but there are some simple ways to secure your laptop against theft and to minimize the damage if it is stolen.
Protecting Your Laptop
Our first priority is to stop someone from stealing your computer. Now, the obvious way to keep is secure is to stay by it all the time. But, that’s not practical. For instance, many people use their laptops in the library, either in a public library or a college library. If you get up to go to the bathroom, or to get a cup of coffee, or even just to pick up a job from the printer, you probably don’t want to carry your computer with you.
Computer Security Cable
Fortunately, you don’t need to. You’ve probably never noticed it, but your laptop almost certainly has a Kensington security slot on it. What is a Kensington security slot? It’s a little slot on your computer which provides an anchor to attach a security cable like this one to your computer.
The other end of the cable can be wrapped in a loop around a desk or a study carrel to keep your computer safe. It’s not a bad idea to use a cable like this in your dorm room as well, because even if you trust your roommates, you might not trust everyone who they could let into the room.
A combination lock computer security cable is also small enough to carry around in your computer case. Of course, it could be cut by a determined thief with a wire-cutters, but so could a bicycle lock. A cable should be more than enough to deter any opportunistic sticky-fingered passersby.
Laptop Security Safe
If you’re worried about an intruder breaking into your residence and want something stronger than a cable, you might be interested in a low-profile laptop safe like this one. This model has a digital lock and can easily fit most laptops or tablets. It also has soft padding to keep from scratching your baby.
You can hide the safe in a desk drawer, or under a bed. Again, it’s not perfect against a determined thief, but it will definitely keep your nosy roommate from snooping on your stuff or stealing your identity! It also claims to be fire-resistant, so it should help at least a little in case of a fire.
If you’re more concerned about price, here’s a good budget laptop safe. This one is lighter, but it has its own Kensington security slot right on it to allow you to use a cable to secure the case to some furniture.
What If Your Laptop Is Stolen?
We’ve covered some good ways to keep your laptop safe from thieves, but what if it is stolen? What will you do to keep your data safe?
One of the biggest problems that almost no one thinks about until their device is stolen is passwords. Most people take advantage of the feature in their browser that automatically remembers passwords for the sites they use. That convenience is helpful, but if you lose access to your browser, there are two problems.
First, someone who has access to your computer has access to your passwords. To get around that, make sure you have a strong password set on your computer itself and that the password is required at login. Consider using a password management program to store your passwords, logins, and credit cards instead of the built in browser tool. Personally, I use 1Password for Mac and I’m really happy with it.
Second, if you lose access to your computer, you lose your own access to your data. Again, 1Password can help with this. You can keep all your password data and other important files and pictures in Dropbox so they’re automatically, securely backed up to the cloud and you can access them from other devices or over the internet.
Finally, make sure you have account validation and two factor authentication set up for all the websites you use that support it, like Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Hopefully these tips can help you keep your laptop secure against anyone who wants to take it!