Someone I know left a laptop sitting on their kitchen table for a little while. When they returned the laptop was gone. So was a lot of other stuff that was on the laptop. Fortunately, it was not a total disaster. They had just recently downloaded a lot of stuff from it–like irreplaceable photographs. This is not an unusual event. I read somewhere that laptops disappear constantly (I can’t remember now how often, but I was surprised.) Now there are a lot of possible “fixes” for the problem of disappearing laptops and I thought I would list a few of them:
1. They do make a “lojack” for computers. You load it on and whenever the machine is plugged into the internet is screams for help. Well, actually it’s a little more complicated than that but, once the software is properly enabled, that’s what it does. Then you can get the police to go recover the laptop. Of course, this assumes you can get the police’s attention and agreement to do this. It also assumes that the police will move quickly enough that they can recover the stolen laptop. I’m not sure about these assumptions but I would love to be proven wrong. This option, however, does not keep whatever is on your machine private or confidential.
2. Encrypt your hard drive so nobody can get to it. This turns your machine into a brick. It won’t let you recover the machine by itself (but you could use it w/ #1 above) but it will protect your information.
Here is my solution:
I keep my data on a main machine. Then I buy a cheap laptop and load almost no software on it except one: I use GoToMyPC from www.gotomypc.com. This remote access service lets me link in to my main machine from anywhere there is a high-speed internet connection. I can encrypt the main machine, protect it all I want. then work on my files remotely. And if somebody steals my laptop, what do I care? The durn things are only about $500 these days.