Making your laptop less appealing...

It's not a case of IF, it's a case of when. One of these days your laptop will be lost or stolen. And someone will find it and use it or buy it. Not only do you lose all that money for the hardware, but think about what is IN your laptop. Documents, files, photos, everything that is private to you. Tax returns with everything needed to hijack your credit.

Or worse... all your usernames and passwords for every website you go to and log in. No they don't have to crack them, if they can get into your account and log onto your computer as you, the computer will not only hand them the keys, it will help them open the doors. your worst nightmare has just came true. and guess what. All your personal info is worth more than that low-end $1500.00 laptop. If you have good credit and a good job, your personal info is worth tens of thousands or more. If you are a CEO of a corporation? millions... But even a $35,000 a year poor factory workers info is worth at least $20,000-$30,000 in credit and loans they can get under your name. THAT should make you sick because banks will try very hard to hold YOU responsible for that money.

What can you do? There are plenty of options. If you use windows, Mac or Linux you have a ton of options to keep your data safe, AND make your laptop, and other devices, less desirable to steal. Remember the front line thief, the crack-head that sees and opportunity to swipe your laptop as you waled 5 feet from it to refill your coffee, does not care about whats in it. he cares about if he can sell it fast for enough to get his next high. The front line thieves are typically idiots. So make step one is to make it less attractive or even hidden. if you carry your laptop to class/work/whatever, don't use a laptop bag or something that screams, "I HAVE A LAPTOP INSIDE"! you need something that looks like it has nothing valuable. Backpacks work great if you dress like a backpack carrying person... I.E. College student, trendy young hipster, etc.. If you are wearing a executive suit and carry a backpack that tells the thief that the backpack has something special in it. Hide it. That custom Gucci leather messenger bag with the big apple logo on the side is a billboard for "steal me".

Carrying your laptop is one thing, making it even more "undesirable" is another. No you don't have to spray paint it and make it look beat up with duct-tape. you can keep it "beautiful" just add non removable or not easily removed markings that clearly identify it as stolen and your property. If you have a aluminum Mac book pro you can have the body laser etched with your name and cellphone number. I typically add the words, "Stolen from Tim Gray. Reward if returned call XXX-XXX-XXXX" If it's plastic like my dell, I have it engraved in the bottom in LARGE lettering that I then fill with white paint to make it VERY obvious. I also have a sticker plastered across the lid that I had made at a custom bumper-sticker site that says the same thing. You can have a nice engraving done on the lid or inside as well to make it permanent and highly visible. Thieves don't like to steal things that boldly advertise they are stolen. One friend had his laptop cover painted. STOLEN FROM: STEVE with his face plastered on it and the words," IF the person who has this does not look like the photo, call the cops and claim your $500.00 reward" That's and extreme, but it works. He has yet to have a laptop stolen and he will walk away from it for 30 minutes at a time. A good bit of insurance is though to get a laptop lock Like these.

You can also add things like software.... laptop alarm will make noise from the speakers, but is easily defeated and many laptops are quiet already. as well as changing the startup screen to say the laptop is stolen. This is easy to do, but a crack head wont know how to change it. I do this to my laptop, desktop, phones and even my GPS. It says it's stolen every time it's started. Don't pay much for any laptop alarm software, most is barely useful at best. All it takes is the thief to turn off the laptop to shut it up.

The BEST thing you can do is to use the security in the OS. use a password and login every time, and no not an easy password. DO NOT have your browser remember your usernames and passwords or any fields. This is handing the thief your information. Programs that remember it for you that require you to log in with one password and keep the content encrypted are ok to have. Finally, encrypt your files or at least your user directory. keep that stuff safe. Even basic encryption will keep thieves at bay from getting into the data. They will move on to greener pastures that are not encrypted. I personally will not leave any data like that on my computers after I am done with it. Tax files? as soon as I file all those files are off to a CD and a Thumb drive and put in the safe. If I need them again I simply get the thumb drive and read them off that drive.

Yes it adds some complexity and logging in all the time is a slight inconvenience but it's worth it. I extend it further. my iPhone locks automatically, I have to enter a 4 digit pin to use my phone, and the phone will erase it's self if someone tries too many times. it's home screen says it is stolen from me as well as engraving on the back of the phone.

yes, there are drawbacks, if you are a person that likes to sell their stuff after a few months, you will find it harder to sell something you engraved all over. Just like how it's hard to sell a lime green and orange polka-dotted Cadillac CTS. But it's the price you pay to keep your stuff safer and at least make it difficult for the thief to sell your stuff.

you might still lose your laptop, but you will know your data is safe AND the thief will have a hard time finding someone that will buy it.


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