Tips to Ensure Safety of Your Laptop While Travelling
Air travel requires careful and comprehensive packing. You can afford to roll up and stuff your expensive pair of jeans in a backpack. It's not going to fare any worse for the ill treatment meted out to it. But what do you do with your electronic gadgets? How can you ensure that your MacBook Air reaches all safe and sound after the long journey?
Laptops have become a necessity these days, and are your vital connection to work and office while away. They keep you entertained during the long wait for connecting flights and make the unending hours of flying tolerable. Since your laptop is indispensable for you, you might as well keep the following tips in mind to ensure the safety and security of your laptop while travelling.
Pack It Right
Hurried and last-minute packing inordinately delays your laptop from finding a proper and safe enclosure. If you put your laptop in a suitcase or a backpack, you are definitely asking for trouble and more often than not, you are going to end up with a broken machine at the end of your journey.
Good quality laptop bags come with extra padding and protection to keep your laptop safe and secure from hits and bumps. There are separate compartments for accessories and cables which prevent your gadget from getting scratches or scrapes.
Laptop bags are ideally worn on you, so make sure they are comfortable to be worn close to your body and are travel-friendly. A TSA-compliant bag will make your life easier at airport security checks. Make sure you have a low-profile laptop bag which does not draw too much attention on itself, or it can set off potential thieves on your trail.
You should never check in your laptop. never put your laptop into checked in luggage. The chances of you recovering it in a good working condition, or recovering it at all, are slim.
Switch off Your Laptop
Make sure your laptop is switched off before packing it away. If you don't shut down the power, your laptop will have its components active. This causes heat to build up and heat is one of the biggest threats to your machine. Heat can cause harm to the internal components and also has adverse effects on the motherboard. So shut down the power before packing your laptop.
Always Keep an Eye on Your Precious Possession
Always ensure you have an eye on your laptop. Don't keep it lying unattended on the chair next to you while you doze off in the airport lounge. If possible, sling the laptop bag across your shoulder to ensure someone does not flick it at the first available opportunity.
You need to be cautious at checkpoints also. TSA and air safety compliant bags may save you the trouble of taking the laptop out of the bag, but more often than not you will need to take it out and deposit it in the checking bin. Make sure your laptop is the last of your items to go through the metal detector so that by the time it emerges on the other end you have already completed your security check-in and are ready to receive it just in time.
Enquire about on-Board Use
Each airline has different regulations as far as the in-flight use of laptops is concerned. Check with your flight attendant regarding the rules. Once you are at high altitudes and cruising, use of personal electronic devices is usually allowed. Use a headset while watching movies or listening to music. You should not carry out online financial transactions while flying because the available networks do not assure safety.
Get a Good Cable Lock
Locks do not ensure complete security but they do deter thieves in crowded or public places. Get a good one as a first line of defense against theft.
Use Tracking Software
There are several services which help you track your laptop. Prey and 'LoJack for Laptops' are just two examples of theft-tracking software to help you track down your laptop in case of theft. Apple has 'Find My Mac' which provides protection to all of the company's products. But it is necessary you sign up for these services well in advance before you travel. They work well and help you track down the laptop you left in the cab while running late for your flight or went missing from the airport cafeteria.
They come in handy when reporting a loss to authorities and make recovering your lost laptop a strong possibility.
The above measures ensure physical safety of your laptop, but software safety is a different ball game altogether. Here are a few tips for easy and effective protection of vital data and personal information.
Back up Your Data
The physical loss of a laptop hurts as much as the loss of its vital and important contents. So back up all the data you have, and make copies on a hard drive at home or at office. You can also opt for cloud storage. This ensures you are not all at sea in case of a loss, and can resume your life and work accessing your backup. The best way to ensure you don't lose important data is not to have any in your system in the first place. After you have taken a backup, consider re-installing or reimaging your system. In case of a theft, all that you lose is the data or information created during your travel.
Ensure your system is password-protected. You need to lock the system when it is not in use, is idle or asleep, or when you are going to leave it unattended.
VPN Aids Security
While using public and insecure networks there is always a threat to the security and safety of personal data, and vital information. It is never a good idea to conduct an online banking transaction while seated in a crowded downtown cafe. The Wi-Fi is not secure and it is easy for someone to decrypt your bank account password. Financial transactions and vital data transfers are never safe on public networks. If it becomes necessary, conduct transactions only through secure sites. A web address beginning with 'https' indicates a secure site. A padlock icon in the address bar or in the corner of the browser window also indicates the security of the site for conducting transactions.
A reliable and trustworthy VPN solves most of your worries. Virtual Private Networks prevent data snooping and identity thefts. Your firewall should always be up providing necessary safety.
Encrypt Sensitive Data
Sensitive and important work-related data, personal information and other records are best kept out of your laptop while travelling. If that's not possible, encrypting the data will provide you with necessary protection from data theft. Tools like TrueCrypt and Boxcryptor help encrypt local files, folders and even the entire operating system. This ensures that in case of theft, no one can access your sensitive information and misuse it.
Keep a Description of Your Laptop Handy
While reporting a lost, stolen or missing laptop you are required to furnish maximum possible details and specifications. Note down your laptop's model, make and other details like the service or serial number. There will be a service tag with barcodes beneath your laptop. Note the information down or better still take a picture of it on your phone. Other defining features and characteristics should also be taken note of like the scratches or chips on the body of the machine.
An alert and well-prepared traveler ensures maximum protection and security of his valuable belongings. By keeping the above given tips in mind, you can be assured of hassle-free and enjoyable travel.