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How to Protect Your Laptop Computer

Yesterday, I told you about how my laptop computer was stolen from inside my hotel room…while I was sleeping just a few feet away. Hard to believe, but true. I was pretty well prepared for such a disaster — better than most, but not as good as some — and my business was saved because […]

Yesterday, I told you about how my laptop computer was stolen from inside my hotel room…while I was sleeping just a few feet away.

Hard to believe, but true.

I was pretty well prepared for such a disaster — better than most, but not as good as some — and my business was saved because of it. But there were other things I could have done — and had always intended to do but hadn’t that could have either prevented the theft in the first place, or helped me to recover even faster.

You might think that what I’m about to recommend to you is a bit excessive. Well I’ll tell you, “It’s always too much until it’s not enough.”

In other words, you might think that doing one or two of these techniques is enough — and you might think it’s excessive. I promise you it’s not. If you lose your computer — either through an accident, or theft, or fire — you’ll need everything on your side to recover your personal information, your business, and your identity.

It’s always too much until it’s not enough. Remember that. Adopt it as your defensive motto for any part of your life.

Today we’re going to cover ways to protect your data and your computer. If you’ve used the tools or advice in the past, go ahead and leave a comment below. I’m sure there are other people will read this and appreciate your input. If you’ve got questions about any of this, go ahead and ask them.

1) COMPUTER LOG-IN – Always password protect your computer. Require a password each time your computer is rebooted or wakes up from sleep mode. If you have multiple users on your computer (for you, your spouse, coworkers, etc) then also make sure that their logins are password protected. Otherwise, someone can log into their account and get to your data.

2) LOJACK FOR LAPTOPS — I had meant to install this ever since I got my new laptop, but always thought I’d have more time — no such luck.

If I had Lojack for Laptops, I could have activated a search feature, which would work with the local police to help locate the laptop as soon as it was connected to the Internet. (Doesn’t work in every country, but it will definitely be on my next machine.)

http://www.LojackForLaptops.com

Lojack for Laptops has a Premium version which allows you a very special feature, assuming want to keep your data top-secret: You can set Lojack to delete your data if it is stolen. That will keep your data away from someone else’s prying eyes, but if you ever recover your laptop, you won’t be able to get the data either. But that’s why you back up your computer, right?

3) LOCAL BACKUP – Here’s a bit of good news — I have good backups of my laptop, so I’m able to recover all of my data. I use Acronis True Image because it is fast and very easy to use. My entire 160gb hard drive backs up in just two hours…if I need to do a complete backup. But, it’s a simple matter to schedule an automatic “incremental” backup every week or every night so that all of the changes are saved in just a few minutes.

You can get a copy at Acronis.com or you can go here to get an instant 20% coupon. http://www.MarkPrefers.com/acronis

VERY good software, and much better than the names you are probably more familiar with.

4) ONLINE BACKUP – If you have a local backup, why do you need an offline backup, too?

Well, there are two VERY important reasons. First, if you are travelling and lose a file — or your whole computer — you can access your online backup instantly from anywhere.

Second, if your home or office (where ever you keep your local backup) is robbed or has some other disaster (fire, earthquake, etc), you still have another backup somewhere else, safe and sound.

I use Mozy which lets you back up your entire computer — no matter how big the hard drive! And unlike many similar services (Carbonite, etc), it will also backup external USB drives.

You can get a free account to back up up to 2 Gigs of data for free at http://www.MarkPrefers.com/mozy, but I gotta tell you…the full service is just $5 a month.

HIGHLY recommended.

5) PASSWORD PROTECTION – Today’s browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox, have the ability to keep you logged into some of your favorite sites, and to even log you in automatically.

Well, I advise against memorizing your passwords using your browser. Instead, use a program like Roboform (http://www.RoboformFreeTrial.com).

I have literally hundreds of websites I log into every week. If I had to type them all in by hand, I’d easily lose an hour a day both by typing the passwords and by having to remember and guess at the rest. I use Roboform, which let’s me remember just one password to unlock them all. Not only will Roboform fill in my usernames and passwords, it will fill in my address and credit card info, too. But, it’s password protection is strong, and my data — even in the wrong hands — is protected from their prying eyes. I’m glad I’ve got Roboform.

Lots of suggestions have poured into my blog at http://www.TrafficAndConversion.com, and I’ll share some of those with you, too.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you some advice specifically on travelling with your computer. Some of it leverages on what I’ve talked about today, and some of it you probably have never thought of before.

Got any comments on today’s information? Have some additional suggestions about backing up or protecting your laptop? Go ahead and share your thoughts below.

To Your Success (and safety)

-Mark
P.S. Just because you have a desktop computer instead of a laptop, that doesn’t mean this doesn’t all apply to you. It does! Your desktop PC can just as easily be stolen or damaged as your laptop. So do some real soul searching here…what would it mean to you if your computer were suddenly gone? How would you recover?

Even if you think it will never happen to you…it will, eventually.

Protect yourself now with these safety measures.

16 replies on “How to Protect Your Laptop Computer”

Whenever I travel, I use a notebook security cable like Targus’ Defcon Notebook Cable Lock (http://www.securitykit.com/TargusPA450-30012.html) to secure it to the desk in my hotel room, or wherever I’m doing business. Also, if I leave my hotel room in the evening (to go to dinner or shopping), I always put up the “do not disturb” sign on my room door. I don’t want any hotel people coming into my room while I’m not there to do a turn-down service on my bed. I can do that myself, thank you very much!

That’s a great tip, Chuck. I never thought of using a cable like that while traveling. I guess what you’d do is just wrap the cable around the desk or table leg, right?
Anyone else have experience with these cables?
-Mark

I am sorry to learn that you have lost your computer, but I am very happy that you have some system in place to protect your data. Thanks for the advice and hope this will never happen to any of our team members again. Please stay in touch.

P.S Flona

Chris,
I didn’t think that doing my first backup was so tough…but there are just a few things in Acronis that it’s nice to have your hand held for.
That said, any good backup program is going to take a few minutes of attention, and once you’ve got it working for you, you can have safe, quality backups every day in minutes.
One note: The current version is 11, and you talk about version 8. For the $50 it retails for (and the $39 you can get it for at this link: http://www.Markprefers.com/acronis) it’s worth getting the most recent version.
Thanks for contributing such valuable info, Chris.
-Mark

Thanks for this great info! Just wanted to add a comment about desktops computers. You’re right. I still remember the feeling opening the store one morning and seeing an empty spot on the desk where the computer used to be — and some candy bar wrappers and empty beer bottle on the floor.

My stomach felt like I was on an elevator plunging from the top of a skyscraper to the bottom floor in 10 seconds flat.

The cops came, took fingerprints, did their thing. But we never got the equipment back. And backup? Hah. We told ourselves we never had time. Well guess what? You don’t want to know how long it will take you to re-enter all of your customer contact info, outstanding bills and accounting information, product listings, and so on.

The anguish alone is something you never want to experience.

Once was one time too many.

Take this seriously no matter what kind of systems you use and how stressed you are. I promise you the stress *afterwards* is about a thousand times worse than just doing the backup and prevention in advance.

And thank you, Mark, for taking the time to help others despite your personal loss. That takes a special kinda guy.

Nancy

Nancy,
Thanks for your kind words. And I thought that what you said was so important, I went and bold-faced it for you.
Pay Attention People!!!
Get your backups done…disaster WILL come in time. Better that you are prepared than not.
Let me put this another way…
Would it be okay with you if your business were suddenly closed right now? Oh, you could keep all your debts, but your revenue would stop.
NOW.
Is that okay with you?
I wouldn’t think so.
-Mark

Wow, great tips Mark! Thank you so much for sharing.

Thanks especially for the lead to Mozy. I had looked at Carbonite a while back and decided against them because I couldn’t use my own encryption key — meaning their personnel could have access to my data! But it looks like Mozy will allow me to do this.

This means I can stop sending backup DVDs to my mom!

🙂

Chuck

I use an external hard drive physical which I purchased at the best IT store (Wal Mart).

Then I back up to my other server…

One other thing you forgot to mention is getting rid of Windows in case of viruses, hacks and corruption.

Roboform is excellent as I started using it years back as suggested by some Mark W. guy.

Don’t forget about data recovery options on a corrupted hard drive either.

Damn where’s my pc blog at?

Even if you have a program to delete your data in case your computer is stolen, it is still possible to get the data. Usually, I would think, that people who are stealing laptops are just wiping the hd and reformatting and selling it to a pawn shop. If, however, a spammer gets hold of it, all they have to do is take out the hd, stick it in their own computer as a slave drive, and your data is exposed for all to see. If you have stuff you don’t want to show anyone, best to encrypt if possible. In my OS of choice, Ubuntu Linux, incrypting is simple. Just right click the file you want to protect and click on incrypt. Of course, if you want to be even safer than that, burn your really secret stuff to dvd or cd and lock it away and remove the info from your computer. If you do that, you should also use the Spybot Search and Destroy shredder tool in Windows. IN Linux you can use the shred command.

Thanks so much for the information you shared. I thought it was so valuable I scrapped my article for this week’s ezine and used your email intact.

I also suggested that my readers come to your blog and share any tips they may have. We all need to be better at this stuff, and yet I’ve always felt like it’s something I can do later.

Thanks for reminding me that later may be too late.

I hope you can enjoy the rest of your trip.

Thank you for sharing this. Good info.

Another big problem is putting your laptop thru the x-ray machine at the airport. Several months ago in Baltimore the inspectors were pushing the trays so hard, my laptop leaped out and hit the floor. They damaged my laptop and it took 20 minutes to get a form to fill out to get it repaired or replaced.

Still don’t know what the TSA is going to do.

Thanks so much for the great tips and sources. I just started backing up my files online using Carbonite, which seems fine for me right now. Glad to know about the one you suggest also. Had heard of Roboform before, but now I know they can be trusted. I wasn’t sure before you mentioned them.
Sorry for the disaster you had to go through.

Some years ago, my laptop was stolen from my Holiday Inn room in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m only telling you the name of the hotel because I promised them I would. The Innkeeper’s Statute states the hotel only has to reimburse you a nominal fee of around $200 for items stolen from their rooms. What’s your computer data worth?

The cable is the first line of defense. I prefer not having my computer stolen (cable) to being notified that it was (lojack). People will lock up a $200 bicycle but not lock up a $2,000 computer. What’s up with that? Mark’s right. Loop the cable to something sturdy.

-Michael Angleo Caruso, http://www.EdisonHouse.com

The first time I ever stayed at a hostel I did not bring a lock with me since I had no idea what to expect. I ended up having to search for a store nearby that sold decent ones. I have since learned my lesson and permanently keep a Master Lock attached to my backpack.

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