Laptop Security While Traveling

07 May 2008

We love our laptop computers and hate how much we have come to rely on them.  They’re great when we need to work and a burden when we need to travel with them.  Regardless of your feelings about your laptop computer, you’d hate to have something happen to it while you’re on the road.  Here are a few tips to help secure your mobile office while you’re out in the world.

- Insure the computer before the trip.  Be sure the insurance you buy covers the trip you’ll be taking; i.e. it does you no good to have your gear insured only in your home country if you’re traveling outside that area.

- Empty all non-essential information from the computer, including financial information, personal information, etcetera.  Think about what a thief could use against you (especially in terms of identity theft) and take that information off your computer.

- If you are going to fly, do not put the computer in your checked luggage.

- Like any expensive item, don’t advertise the fact that you have a computer.  Use discretion before taking it out in public, especially if you’re in a less-developed country.  For example, you may be on the train in Thailand or India and want to use the computer.  The second the machine comes out, all eyes will be on you.  Do you want that kind of attention?  Read a book or magazine and leave your computer in your bag until you get to your hotel or hostel room and even then, try to wait until you are alone.

- Don’t bring the computer out with you for the day.  Leave it at your hotel in order to decrease the chance of the laptop getting lost, stolen or broken.

- When you leave the computer in the room, do not leave it in plain sight.  Theft happens in locked hotel and hostel rooms, too.  Rather, hide the computer in your luggage (locked, of course) or, to a lesser extent, hide it in a drawer or someplace as secure as possible.

- If you need to get online, but can’t do it where you are (to upload the photos from the trip to your online storage), leave the computer in the room and copy your images to a flash or portable USB drive, then go to a PC room and upload from there.

- Try to back up everything on your laptop to a separate drive (like a portable USB drive) every day, if possible and keep the laptop and USB drive stored in separate locations.  This way, if your laptop is lost, stolen or destroyed, you have everything backed up on the hard drive (and hopefully already uploaded to your storage space).

- Buy a cable lock that locks one end to your computer with the cable that loops around a table or bench or something.  This is useful when you are using your computer out in public, like at a coffee shop.

- Be sure to record the computer’s serial number and model number.  Save the information online, so if the computer is stolen, you can report that information to the police and your insurance company.

NOTE: You will probably have to give this information to the insurance company when you insure the computer.

- Buy and install laptop tracking software.  Should someone steal the computer, this will make it easier for the police to find it, but it is no guarantee.

Good luck and happy traveling!  

© 2008

Thank you for reading.  If you have something to add to this article, please click here to go to the Contact page and select “Contributing to an article” from the drop down menu.  Please enter the article title in the message field so your addition goes to the correct article.  Thank you for your contribution!