We're all sliding into the end of the year and making plans to drive, fly and ride on trains to visit family for Thanksgiving and the holidays. But before you pack your last scarf, make sure that you're taken precautions to avoid damaging or losing the electronics you take with you. Behind the jump, we've got 8 helpful tips to make sure that your trusty laptop makes it home safe so you can relax by the fire with hot cocoa, rather than in the airport security office with loads of paperwork.
- Pad Your Laptop: Make sure your laptop bag or carrying case provides adequate padding. Your baby can get shaken up pretty bad as you move about the airport or shove the laptop under the seat in front of you. For the added ease of a checkpoint-friendly bag, check out the ones from Targus or Tom Bihn
- Keep It On You: It is not uncommon for someone to set their luggage down while standing in line for a muffin, or to sit down while waiting for a flight. With all luggage, it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure nobody tampers with it or steals it. Because of their telltale size, most laptop bags make prime targets by revealing what's inside. You should keep the laptop bag on your shoulder or keep it in sight at all times.
- Back Up Data: Perform a backup of all critical or sensitive data before departing. Just in case your laptop does become damaged or lost, you don't want to also lose your important files and information. You can buy a new laptop, but it is much harder to replace lost data.
- Encrypt Your Data: Just in case your laptop should fall into unauthorized hands, you should make sure your hard drive is encrypted. Laptops with Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate come equipped with BitLocker drive encryption. If you aren't using one of these versions of Windows Vista, you can use an open source solution such as TrueCrypt to protect your data.
- Document Identifying Information: In case your laptop does end up lost or stolen, you should be able to provide detailed information about the make, model, serial number and any other identifying information. You may need the information to file a claim with the airline or your insurance company, or to provide law enforcement.
- Use Strong Passwords: Make sure that your passwords can not be easily guessed or cracked if your laptop falls into the wrong hands.
- Use Portable Storage: Even if you've backed up your data before you left, you might still want to protect any new projects from being lost on the way home. To make sure you have the critical PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet that you need to show your business partners in order to seal the multi-million dollar deal, you should carry a copy on a USB thumb drive or some other type of portable storage that you can pack separate from the laptop in case it becomes lost or stolen.
- Just Leave The Laptop At Home: When it comes to all of the hassles and all of the issues that can arise from traveling with your laptop, you should also consider whether you really need to take it. You can carry your data or files on portable storage such as a CD, DVD or USB drive and borrow a desktop or laptop system once you are safely on the ground wherever your final destination may be.