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Laptop Travel Safety

With the holiday travel season fast approaching, travelers must take steps to protect their laptops from thieves and other mishaps. Don’t let yourself become target by following these four easy steps to protect your investment.

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Yes. Your laptop will travel nearly as much as you do this holiday season. The point of having portable technology is so that it will be where we want, when we want. Need to check your email while Uncle Bob is telling drunken tales of holidays past? Your laptop can give you an ironclad excuse to slip away. What about a smartphone or tablet? Aren't these devices just as handy and much easier to travel with? Yes, a smart device will be easier to transport between cities. But, when it comes to being interrupted by someone, people are more apt to keep talking to you when using a smartphone or tablet. Lift the lid on a laptop and everyone around you knows that you are tired of his or her company and want to be left alone.

So how do we get that laptop to the family holiday destination safe and sound? Packing a laptop is not as simple as stuffing a week's worth of cloths into a duffle or tossing it, cables and all, into a shopping bag. You have to follow a few simple precautions to make sure that the laptop arrives in as good of shape as it left.

First Step: Padded Packing

Laptops are targets. Thieves see laptops as a quick high-value payday and Murphy's Law is always on the lookout for a new target. To combat both of these threats a laptop must be secured in a purpose-built container.

Laptop cases come in many shapes and sizes. The style you chose is up to your taste, but, there are two major factor to take into account that will protect your laptop more so that any others: the container should be non-descript, or even plain, and it should have padding.

A great laptop bag will also include separate accessories compartments and openings that can be locked or secured in some way.

Power It Down

A good laptop generates heat. Consider the fact that a laptop is everything that a desktop computer is but in a casing the size of a large college textbook. To combat heat buildup in this small and confined space, manufacturers add vents, fans, and heat sinks to remove as much excess heat as possible and extend the life of the laptop. Even with all these precautions, many laptops still generate enormous amounts of heat while operating. Now imagine your laptop running and generating all that heat in a secure, padded, and enclosed travel bag.

Turn off your laptop. Sleep mode and hibernation are not the same as a fully powered down machine. In an enclosed space excess heat will build up and, in cases of extended storage, can damage your laptop.

Use Common Sense - Part I

Once again, laptops are targets for thieves. Make sure you remember that. Now consider that many thieves are opportunists. Your thief may not have set out that day to steal a laptop, but if one is served up to him on a silver platter, it will be stolen.

To combat opportunity thieves, you must be aware of your location and your surroundings. In an airport or bus terminal, always keep your laptop case in your lap. Placing the laptop case in a seat next to you allows for a quick thief to grab your device while you are distracted. If you are traveling by car, always store the laptop case out of site. Never leave the laptop case on a seat in view of passers-by for the same reason as before. A quick thief can make off with your laptop when you are distracted.

The key here is to use common sense and appropriate actions. A few seconds of extra time spent stowing your laptop in a secure location can mean the difference in having it or asking for a new one this holiday.

Use Common Sense - Part II

All PC and mobile devices should be secured with passcodes and have current backups. Let me repeat that one more time. All PC and mobile devices should be secured with passcodes and have current backups.

Everyone who uses a PC or smart device should know this simple fact. Data will be lost. Data will be stolen. The only way to combat this is to take every precaution possible or within reason. If you have not secured your laptop behind a password or code, please do so before you leave for your holiday trip. If you have never scheduled a backup of your personal files, please do so before you leave for your holiday trip.

Beyond thieves and malcontents making off with your digital devices, the fact that Murphy's Law runs rampant in airports should force everyone to consider backing up their devices. You could follow every precaution outlined above and still lose your laptop. Don't let your data disappear with it.

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