3 Ways to protect your laptop on the road

The newest laptops and external drives are powerful, light, and thin enough to fit easily into the slenderest of carry-on baggage. This makes them easy to travel with, but also easier to lose or have stolen.

It pays to be extra vigilant at airport security checkpoints where thieves know people can be flustered.

You should also store your laptop in the seat in front of you, instead of in the overhead compartment when you fly.

Here are our top tips to help you secure the information on your laptop.

1. Protect your information

  • If you keep personal or financial information on your computer, invest in an operating system that includes file protection.
  • Windows 7, Vista and Windows XP Professional have the tools to protect your information through a process called encryption.
  • To learn more, see Encrypt or decrypt a folder or a file (for Windows Vista) or Encrypt Your Data to Keep It Safe (for Windows XP).

2. Protect your laptop with a strong password

  • If you travel with your laptop frequently, you should secure it with a strong password. Check your computer’s Help and Support service to learn how to add or change your system password.
  • To find out how to create passwords that are tough for hackers to crack, but easy for you to remember, see Strong passwords: How to create and use them.

3. Back up before you go

  • Always back up your information before you take your laptop on a trip. You can’t always avoid the financial loss of your equipment, but you can avoid losing all your information in the process.
  • With the growing popularity and increasing memory capabilities of small flash drives (known as “thumb drives” or “USB drives”) comes a greater risk of information theft.
  • If you travel with a thumb drive, try not to store sensitive information on it. If you lose the drive or if the drive is stolen it’s easy for anyone to access that information. Thumb drives can also carry viruses, so remember to update the antivirus software on your computer.