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Keep your laptop safe and secure while you travel

Alex Cocilova | Nov. 19, 2013
PCs make great travel companions, but you need to treat them right.

Of course your laptop is coming with you on any holiday trips. It's your pride and joy—for many of us, it's practically an appendage. It's our entertainment at the airport and on the plane. It's our office umbilical cord—because you know you can never completely escape work.

Unlike an arm or leg, though, your laptop isn't physically attached to your body. And there are all too many ways that it can come to harm—or even disappear with someone who covets it as much as you do. Follow these tips for laptop security, and you won't have to ask Santa to bring you a new one.

Keep it padded
Tossing a laptop into the average backpack, book bag—or worse, simply carrying it under your arm—is asking for trouble. Your delicate hardware needs a purpose-built enclosure to keep it safe.

Traveling is full of shoving bags into tight spots, jostling them about, and stuffing in just one more thing. Push a little too hard, and you may hear an investment-shattering crack. Get a laptop-specific carrying case with plenty of padding and protection. Separate compartments for accessories and power cables are a luxury that can keep your PC scratch and dent free.

To deter theft, buy a nondescript bag, without logos that advertise to potential thieves that there's valuable merchandise inside.

Turn it off
It's tough to pack a powerful computer into a tiny enclosure, and then keep its critical components running nice and cool. That's what the numerous vents and fans that suck cool air in and push hot air are for. Now imagine the heat that can accumulate in the secure, padded, tight quarters of a fancy new laptop bag.

Don't make the mistake of cramming a sleeping computer into the confines of a backpack or messenger bag. Hibernating is not the same as being powered off. Heat is a computer's enemy number one. It can shorten your computer's useful life, loosen components in the motherboard, or entirely destroy it. Block the computer's vents for long stretches, and you could unpack a fried PC at the end of your trip. Be safe and power down that laptop before you stow it.

If you do discover your laptop's temperature to be on the rise, here are some suggestions for cooling it down.

Keep an eye on it, but keep it out of sight
Laptops are hot-ticket items for thieves. Keep yours on your lap or within view while you're at the airport, bus, or train terminal. Don't leave it an open target by setting it on an adjacent seat and then becoming distracted by your phone or your kids. If it disappears, don't expect it to show up at the lost and found.


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