Thursday, July 5, 2012

Would you panic if your laptop disappeared?

During a recent trip, I watched in horror as a man realized that he had left his laptop sitting in a train station.... 3 hours previous. He was in total panic.  Fortunately for him, some kind soul had turned it in  and he was able to recover it at the lost and found department.  But it got me thinking.  I've never lost an actual laptop

  • I did leave my iPad on a plane early this year, but the Delta ground crew helped me get it back before the next flight departed and it disappeared. 
  • I have had three hard drives die in the last year, but with good backup practice (and the help of Carbonite), I restored all my data. 
  • I had my car broken into and my blackberry stolen, but one phone call to my IT department and it was remotely wiped. 

But I never actually "lost" the whole laptop.   

Thinking about it, the loss is two fold: 
1)  How do I get my data back?
2)  Is there any concern about the data on missing device? 

The first part is easy.  I am an extremely strong believer in automatic backup. I use and strongly recommend Carbonite, but there are several very good products out there.  I also have a local external drive but only backup there occasionally.  

It was the second part that really got to me.   Now it was my last data recovery that got me thinking as I looked at all the files that were being restored (lurie-peter-federal-state-taxes-2011.pdf being one, downloaded copies of credit card statements, etc) as there's a lot of information on my laptop.  And my wife has confidential files on her computer too.  

I don't know if my work laptop is encrypted or not (I presume it is) however, my personal laptops are not.  Should they be?  Probably.  Can I find a way to do it transparently, inexpensively, and relatively securely?  Maybe... I'm going to play with TrueCrypt and write up results later.  

Meanwhile, until I get everything locked down, I guess I have to keep track of my laptops. :) 

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