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The Lessons Learned from Losing a Laptop: Part I

Written by Mark Williams | 21 November 2013

There’s a common saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. We could apply this to different aspects in our lives, but no more so than our personal technology devices, which for many people are like an extra limb. We’ve talked to Richard Tubb, founder of Tubblog, about how difficult your life can be if you lose one of your tech treasures.

 Lesson #1– Keep your belongings with you at all times!

I was presenting at an IT industry event at a very prestigious venue in London. My presentation was just before lunch, and arriving early I dropped my laptop bag alongside those of many of my colleagues near the event registration desk. About an hour before my presentation, I went to retrieve my laptop and in horror discovered that it was no longer there. My heart sank – not only had a £1,000+ worth of laptop gone, but all my valuable mobile accessories. More importantly, my presentation due to be delivered in 30 minutes time had gone with it!

 Lesson #2 – Know how to quickly access your Data Backups

Ironically (given I was about to give a presentation on Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery) I had stored a backup copy of my presentation in the Cloud. Borrowing a laptop, and using a Wi-Fi connection, I logged on to recover the presentation. Or at least I would have if I could find how on earth you actually logged on to the particular cloud service from a web browser. When I needed to access my backup in a hurry, the stress of trying to find out how to do so is most unwelcome.

Thankfully I finally found the correct login web-site, and thanks to having my password information stored on my iPad (which was safely in my possession) I could logon to the site, grab a copy of the presentation and copy it to a flash drive ready to go on stage with.

 Lesson #3 – Maintain an accurate record of your high value goods

Over lunch, my friends and I scouted around again and with no luck in finding my laptop, I finally resigned myself to the fact that it had gone and contacted hotel security. I reported my laptop stolen with the local Police Station who asked for specifics of the laptop.

Luckily, I’d recorded the serial numbers and other specifics of not only the laptop, but my Flip HD camcorder which was also in the laptop bag, on Immobilise – the web-site of the UK National Property Register.

Having this information easily to hand via my iPad meant I was able to describe the laptop and give all pertinent information quickly, as well as tag the laptop and camcorder as stolen. In the event that the stolen laptop turned up at a Police Station, it could be identified as mine.

Lesson #4 – Your Data is more valuable than your hardware. Protect it accordingly!

The laptop was password protected, and all data backed up to the Cloud, but it is not too difficult to access a file system using tools outside of Windows, nor to crack a Windows password to gain full access to a system. Chances were that any thief would be stealing the laptop for the hardware, not the data, but that sinking feeling that you get when you realise this data is confidential is definitely not a nice one. I really wish I’d have gotten round to encrypting it as I kept promising I would …

...To be continued...

Note: This article is adapted from the original with kind permission from Richard Tubb. Follow Richard Tubb on Google+