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Safeguarding Your Laptop

May 25, 2008
Breaking free from a traditional working environment to fly alone with a mobile office on their back was a long-time dream of the Baby Boomers who were born in the early 1960's and grew old watching how science and technology began to skyrocket but limited to the imaginary of television shows and films portraying the wonders of gizmos and gadgets that became a reality for the Generation X and Y, the wired teens of today.

Age does not really counts when it comes to mobile technology and you and I know alike that in a every-day changing world like this who does not get involved in the latest technology trends is simply living in the past. We have seen how personal computers took over a place in most households all over the world, but portability would be the focal point in the 1990s bringing handhelds and mobile phones.

Amidst this technology's commotion, laptops remained in the dark as the long sought-after dream to carry on a light tool to create and personalise our work on the go. Yes indeed, this is my personal approach to introduce you to tech secrets to safeguard your portable computer, but nonetheless interesting realising how the turn of the century made of laptops our daily companion after an obscure startup in the early 1970s, followed by a slow evolution from notebook to the actual device's format between the 1980s and early 1990s.

If you are like me, your laptop is being used as multipurpose device at home and going to the school, at work or just having fun in the outside world. For each of the different stages in which your laptop performs the principal role in your life, there is a safeguard measure to bear in mind. Like with PCs, laptops are susceptible to data-stealing, data-loss and hackers attack, though the small size and portability of this device makes it vulnerable to physical thieving , that is why I am going to summarise some of the methods to protect it.

If you are a College student you might know some security basics to protect your laptop, whether posted on your campus or passed on to you as a flier from other students. For those who ignore these preventive measures, they focus generally on keeping your laptop personalised by means of a unique sticker applied anywhere on its surface, try laptop sleeves, a light-weight alternative to laptop cases protecting your mobile computer from exterior damage and keep it safely embraced when you are going from one place to another. Jotting down in a safe place your laptop's serial number and making instead a permanent marking on its surface are also two useful measures that we will discuss later.

Even though, there are also gizmos specially designed to prevent your laptop from being stolen while you are carrying on your device and they are relatively inexpensive including cable locks that secure your laptop against casual thieves by means of a built-in USS (Universal Security Slot) available in most modern mobile computers. When it comes to work with your laptop on a desktop, I would suggest a docking station that locks your device to the surface you are working on. Going farther, have a look at this Car Safe for Valuable and Laptop Computers which might be a must for a full-time mobile office owner.

Moving on to data protection, I was reading at the Spy Gadget Blog how Self-Destructing Laptop Aims to Protect Confidential Data works by protecting the confidentiality of your data through different levels, truly interesting but somewhat expensive because of being a 10-monthly subscription service. Although there are also tracking software that ping security centres, this is also a subscription service so my budget solution is a piece of software (Laptop Alarm) that enables an alarm centre which not only triggers bells and whistles, but freezes four basic functions that make unreachable your data in the event of theft.

On the hi-tech end, some laptops come with biometrics capability, meaning that your fingerprint can be used as identification to logon in order to access your data. Even though the risk of get your data exposed to a hacking attempt make the information vulnerable to be retrieved by means of viruses, Trojan horses, worms and other forms of malware sent to your laptop by an open port or imperceptibly retrieved during your regular online activities.

I will never visit websites in which my sensitive data would have to be disclosed without activating a Firewall. This simple measure integrated in most Operating Systems by default helps to stop hackers attempting to connect to your laptop. Listen to me when I say you must not simply install an anti-virus, you must make sure to update its virus pattern o a regular basis since hackers are always seeking new forms to retrieve or destroy your data.

Luckily most anti-virus software comes with an auto-update feature so do not turn it off. Anti-Virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware are useful applications to protect any computer but they might be annoying during scanning or updating processes. If your laptop slows down simply adjust the settings to keep them running as a background process and, if you are working with a Windows Operating System with enhanced security measures, make of them a valuable tool to protect your laptop's traveling data.

In my personal experience I'm always trying to add some protection to my data by encrypting or password protecting sensitive information in addition to the safeguard measures described above. You can find more information on this matter by paying a visit to popular downloads sites such as ZDNet.

We have learnt basic laptop safeguards but, what if everything fails and your laptop is stolen? First of all, read carefully the manual to find any manufacturer's remark on this matter. Do you remember I told you that writing down you computer's serial number will help you?. This is it, now you can report the theft to both the laptop's customer care centre and the police station.

Along with the laptop's serial number you will be questioned about any physical characteristic that might identify your computer from others. While stickers can be removed or overlapped, if you opted for drawing o applying a permanent marking on the laptop's surface this will help the officials to report it and even get it back in no time with a little luck.
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