Guess how many laptops are stolen or lost each year?  According to technology research firm Gartner a laptop is filched every 53 seconds. That’s approximately 1440 laptops snatched each day. Annually it adds up to roughly half a million. Given that approximately 50 million laptops are sold annually, it’s an awful lot of theft and loss… and an awful lot of distressed people.

Deeply personal

Laptop theft isn’t about numbers, it’s deeply personal. People who have laptops stolen often feel vulnerable and even stupid. It can also eat away at a sense of security.

That said, often it’s not the big things that are lost that cause upset but the little things like photos of family and friends, files that hold personal information and sound or music files.

If your laptop is lost or stolen there are a number of steps you can take to minimise the damage:

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Password protect your laptop

  • Set up your laptop so you have to enter a password every time you boot up. It should be difficult-to-guess and composed of capital letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Enable two-step authentication on any site that holds personal data such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
  • If you already have a lot of ‘complex’ passwords you could store them on a cloud service like Dropbox, if you trust it or another service to be secure.
  • Alternatively a password manager can be used which allows you to log in with one universal password.

Encrypt your hard drive

The hard drive holds all the data on your computer. There are stories about villains of various stripes that have attempted to destroy evidence on computers by throwing them into swimming pools or even setting fire to them.

But hard drives are tough and not easy to destroy. This is why it’s a good idea to encrypt your laptop hard drive. If someone does a ‘snatch and run’ with yours they’re in for a disappointment because an encrypted hard drive doesn’t give up information, even if it’s taken out of a computer.

An encrypted hard drive is like Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone (his full name) in the Rocky films, near indestructible whatever is thrown at it. There are quite a few hard drive encryption tools out there. To find one that is suitable carry out an Internet search.

Clean up your laptop

It’s not a bad idea to ask yourself whether you really need to have all those files on your laptop. If you can strip the data on your hard drive back to the bare essentials, the teeth gnashing stress of a lost or stolen laptop can be reduced to a tic in the eye.

Ask yourself whether you really need to carry your blueprint for world domination everywhere you go? It’s likely that many files would be better off on your home computer, external storage or even a memory stick, as long at its tucked away safely.

Back up, back up… and back up

This is a golden rule that many of us ignore. If we don’t back up files imagine the devastation when a laptop is lost or stolen? All of that hard work and personal stuff, gone. Forever. 

It’s easy to put off backing up data so the best thing to do is get into the habit. Every time you boot up your laptop at home or the office, plug in an external drive, or use a cloud service, and back up. Apparently after repeating an act 22 times it becomes habitual. So there you go. In only three weeks and the blink of an eye and you’ll be backing up like a pro.