6 ways to protect your laptop from theft

Notebook PCs are easy pickings for most thieves. This is especially true in airports and other public places, where you should always be on your guard. Here are several simple steps you can take to protect your notebook and your data.

6 ways to protect your laptop from theft

How to keep your laptop safe

1. Use a system password.

  • This will prevent your files from becoming accessible until the proper password is entered.
  • To find out how to create a password for accessing your system, check your user's manual. (You usually need to hit the delete, escape, or F1 key immediately after powering up, which accesses the start-up menu.)
  • Although password-protecting your system won't deter theft, it will make it harder for a thief to access your system. (And you, too, if you forget the password, so be sure it's a password you can remember.)

2. Have it engraved.

  • It may sound a bit extravagant, but engraving your name on the front of your laptop may just be enough to deter a thief from swiping it.
  • At the very least, it will certainly make your notebook more difficult to fence.

3. Use removable media.

  • When it's time to hit the road with your notebook, be sure to copy your essential files to CD-Rs, keychain-type flash drives, or some other form of removable media, and keep them in your pocket or packed in a separate case.
  • That way, you'll still have the information you need if your laptop goes missing. (You may even opt to leave the files off your laptop's hard drive altogether.)

4. Carry it in an inconspicuous bag.

  • Avoid computer bags emblazoned with a manufacturer's logo on it — they simply call attention to the fact you're carrying a laptop.
  • Instead, carry your notebook in a modest-looking, adequately padded shoulder bag.
  • There are plenty of different types of computer bags to choose from — and many nondescript ones that could easily pass for ordinary briefcases or knapsacks.

5. Encrypt sensitive data.

  • Using encryption software won't guard your system against theft, but it can protect your sensitive business and personal files — which can often be more valuable than the notebook on which they're stored.

6. Register it.

  • Registering your system's serial number with the manufacturer will not only ensure that your laptop is covered by the manufacturer's warranty, but in the event that it's stolen, the manufacturer will be able to trace the notebook back to you if it comes in for repairs.
  • Also, don't forget to write your notebook's serial number in your user manual and on an index card to be kept with your important records.
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