What’s the worst thing that could happen when you travel with your laptop? Next to the plane crashing, it’s probably losing the laptop or the important data on it.
There are lots of ways this can happen. There are also lots of ways you can prevent this, according to Kevin Coffey, a police detective and president of Corporate Travel Safety of Calabasas, Calif. This applies to business travel as well as traveling for pleasure.
Laptops can be stolen, lost, or broken. The cause is usually carelessness, said Coffey in a phone interview.
“In the majority of cases I’ve investigated, it turns out that people were simply not paying attention to their laptop,” he said. Consider these scenarios:
Coffey said similar scenarios present themselves back in the office as well, and that the office is, in fact, the most common location for laptop theft. “Office creepers”—thieves who dress up as maintenance workers, exterminators, and so on—go from cubicle to cubicle, looting laptops that employees leave unsecured on their desks.
Coffey presents some good tips on preventing these and other mishaps at his Web site (http://www.corporatetravelsafety.com).
One laptop security product he recommends is StuffBak (http://www.stuffbak.com), a system for affixing laptops and other valuable items with I.D. labels. The labels include a control number, a toll-free phone number, and a notice that says that anyone who finds and returns the item will receive a reward.
Short of this, you can affix your laptop with an identifiable marker, such as a piece of yellow tape, as you would a piece of luggage. This can prevent someone who owns the same brand from inadvertently walking off with your computer.
Needless to say, try to keep your eyes on your laptop, or straddle or otherwise keep in contact with it. Don’t place your laptop on the airport security conveyor belt until you’re ready to walk through yourself. Don’t leave it in plain view in a parked car.
Of course, loss isn’t the only risk when traveling with a laptop—damage is another. Laptops have built-in shock resistance, but you can still break one if you’re not careful, which will prevent you from accessing your data.
One product I recommend that can help prevent this is Brenthaven’s Duo (http://www.brenthaven.com), which is available in different sizes as a shoulder case or backpack. It cradles the laptop inside shock-absorbing material and provides extra storage space for accessories and other materials.
If your laptop is lost or damaged, an online backup service, such as those provided by Xdrive (http://www.xdrive.com) and IBackup.com (http://www.ibackup.com), can save the day.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at email@example.com or reidgold.com.