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Best Ways to Protect Laptops - Passwords, Encryption & Data Backup

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 10/5/2009

This tutorial provides some technical and administrative tips on how to protect your laptop. In this article we discuss laptop protection strategies such as setting passwords, encrypting data, file sharing, and maintaining scheduled data backup.

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    Create a System Password

    A top-notch password is vital to protecting your computer from being compromised. Having a weak user-name and password is akin to leaving your wallet exposed among pickpockets. Hackers will stop at nothing to access the private and financial information in your system. To create a great password pick a password that is at least eight characters long, and combines numbers, lower-case and upper-case letters as well as keyboard characters.

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    Data Encryption

    If there is highly sensitive information on your laptop, consider encrypting it, especially if you often use the laptop in public places. This ensures that, even if your laptop is stolen it will be almost impossible to access your laptop data. If your laptop runs Windows XP or Windows Vista Business, then you already have a built in file-encryption utility. Windows Vista ultimate comes with Bitlocker, a powerful encryption feature to prevent data theft.

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    Backup your Data

    While system passwords and encryption may help prevent anyone from stealing your laptop data, they cannot retrieve that data if the laptop is stolen. Similarly, if your system crashes, you could lose invaluable data. You can backup your data on removable media such as external hard drives or back-up tapes, or you may use online backup services for this purpose.

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    Download and install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to block, detect and remove viruses, spyware, trojans, keyloggers, worms and other malware that online threats may cause grave harm to your system. It is essential that you keep this security software updated.

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    Disable File Sharing

    Disable file sharing before you connect to the Internet, to help prevent hackers from accessing your files and folders. For Windows XP,

    1. Click on the Start button and then select My Computer.
    2. Click Tools and then "Folder Options..."
    3. Click View and then select Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended). Click inside the checkbox to disable this option.
    4. Click OK to close this window. And you are done!