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  • Protecting Your Laptop Offline
    How to keep it safe and secure
    We love using wireless laptops on the road. But with great Wi-Fi comes great responsibility. In previous issues of eLink, we've given you information and advice on things like Wireless Security Tips, Using a Public Computer, and Safe Ways to Deal with Your Passwords. Now we want to take a step back and talk about the physical security of your laptop.

    Backing up your laptop & encrypting important files
    Before you go, one of the most important things you could do is to back up all your important information—just in case. This way, if anything unfortunate were to occur while you're sitting on the beach uploading vacation photos to your blog, you know that you won't lose anything permanently.

    Another smart thing to do is encrypt or password-protect any sensitive data you'll be carrying around with you: Quicken files, tax returns, corporate documents, and so forth. And when creating a password, follow the advice we gave out in previous eLinks to make sure you've got a password that is safe and secure.

    Packing your laptop with love
    Your laptop is not a magazine or an old T-shirt, so it
    shouldn't be treated as one. When packing your laptop, don't just toss it in your backpack or on top of your neatly folded socks. Your best bet is to protect it with one of those handy dandy laptop sleeves to keep it safe and protect it from bumps and bruises. Also, don't put it anywhere near something that may spill or leak. The last thing you want to do is open your laptop to discover a fine sheen of sunscreen on (and worse, in) the keyboard.

    Also, try not to be conspicuous with your laptop. Nothing screams "Steal me!" more than an obvious computer bag. As we mentioned above, you can easily get a laptop sleeve to carry your computer in your beach bag or backpack. That way, it's protected but inconspicuous.

    Many bags, especially newer models, have special compartments just for carrying your laptop. These aren't computer bags but rather normal bags that happen to have an extra sleeve for your laptop. If you've got one, use it. But don't then also stuff a bunch of other things in that sleeve just because it looks like there's room. Your laptop is probably the most expensive thing you'll be bringing on vacation outside of your wedding ring, so treat it with the respect it deserves.

    Traveling with your laptop
    The general rule of thumb is: keep it close and out of sight. If for any reason you're going to be leaving it in your car for any length of time, store it in the trunk. But do so BEFORE you reach your destination.

    Once you're at the airport, pay close attention and be careful at security checkpoints. You'll generally have to take it out of the sleeve at the checkpoint, so be careful placing it into the bin before it goes through, keep an eye on it at all times, and make it the first thing you grab off the conveyor and secure after you've cleared security. Yes, even before you put your shoes back on.

    Once on the plane (or train), don't just throw your laptop in the overhead bin. Put it under your seat or by your side. The key is to know where it is at all times. Sure, the chances of your fellow passengers nabbing your laptop on a cross-country flight are minimal, but they aren't non-existent.

    In the end, if you've taken these basic precautions, you can relax and enjoy yourself. Vacations are about having fun, keeping in touch, and capturing memories, so don't let a lost, stolen, or broken laptop ruin your day!