These days, we Geeks don’t travel anywhere without our laptops. It’s a given that we need to have them on us! How would we survive?! Thankfully, Seth sent in the following tips to help us keep them safe while we are on the road.
- Pad The Laptop: Make sure the laptop bag or carrying case you transport your laptop in provides adequate padding. As you move about the airport or shove the laptop under the seat in front of you or into the overhead storage compartment, the laptop can be jarred and jostled quite a bit.
- Keep It On You: It is not uncommon for someone to set their luggage down while standing in line for a muffin, or to sit down while waiting for a flight. With all luggage, it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure nobody tampers with it or steals it. Because of their size and value though, laptops make prime targets and a thief can snatch the laptop bag and keep walking while you are unaware with your back turned. You should keep the laptop bag on your shoulder or keep it in sight at all times.
- Back Up Data: Perform a backup of all critical or sensitive data before departing. Just in case your laptop does become damaged or lost, you don’t want to also lose your important files and information. You can buy a new laptop, but it is much harder to replace lost data.
- Encrypt Your Data: Just in case your laptop should fall into unauthorized hands, you should make sure your hard drive is encrypted. Laptops with Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate come equipped with BitLocker drive encryption. If you aren’t using one of these versions of Windows Vista, and your company has not implemented any other sort of enterprise-wide encryption solution, you can use an open source solution such as TrueCrypt to protect your data.
- Document Identifying Information: In case your laptop does end up lost or stolen, you should be able to provide detailed information about the make, model, serial number and any other identifying information. You may need the information to file a claim with the airline or your insurance company, or to provide law enforcement.
- Use a BIOS Password: Protecting your laptop with an operating system login and password is a good idea, but there are ways to circumvent that protection and gain access to the data still. For better protection, you should enable password protection at the BIOS level so that the laptop can not even be turned on without the correct password.
- Implement Remote Data Protection: Another step you can take to make sure your data does not fall into the wrong hands is to look into products that will allow you to remotely destroy or erase the data on your laptop if it is lost or stolen. These products generally require that the unauthorized user connect to the Internet first in order for them to do their work though, so they are not a guarantee.
- Use Portable Storage: To make sure you have the business critical PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet that you need to show your business partners in order to seal the multi-million dollar deal (or whatever other important files and documents might be on your laptp) you should carry a copy on a USB thumb drive or some other type of portable storage that you can carry separate from the laptop in case it becomes lost or stolen.
- Just Leave The Laptop At Home: When it comes to all of the hassles and all of the issues that can arise from traveling with your laptop, you should also consider whether you really need to take it. You can carry your data or files on portable storage such as a CD, DVD or USB drive, or you can just email or FTP the data ahead of you. Then, you can borrow a desktop or laptop system once you are safely on the ground and at the office site you are visiting.
Use Strong Passwords: Follow the advice in Passwords and How to Make Them to make sure that your passwords can not be easily guessed or cracked if your laptop falls into the wrong hands. An excellent program for helping to secure and manage your passwords is Password Vault, which works for both Windows and Mac OS X.