It’s common to prepare for power outages and other disasters, but when you use electronics as part of your business, it can be just as important to prepare for the loss of a vital piece of equipment.
Do you know what to do if your laptop goes missing?
The password conundrum
I received a phone call a few weeks ago from a friend asking me how to track a laptop. My first question was, what software is on the laptop that allows for that. She wasn’t sure.
Next, I learned it wasn’t her laptop that went missing, but a mutual friend’s. I recalled a conversation I had with that other person where I persuaded her to let me put a few passwords on her computer just in case it was ever taken.
While she did let me set up the passwords, a few days later, she complained what a pain it was to enter the password every time she turned it on or when the screen timed out.
I reiterated the importance of securing her device, both for the safety of her own data and that of any client data that may be within the device as well. However, I told her the decision to use passwords or forgo them was completely up to her.
I feared the worst, not knowing how to help her find it, or whether her data was now in jeopardy. This got me thinking.
Would I know what to do if my laptop or phone disappeared? My first thought was, yes. I’ve got this. I have passwords protecting all of my devices and I have Prey installed on all of them as well. (More about Prey later.)
I grabbed my other phone (yes, I have two; I live and breathe social media and the Internet as a whole, so multiple gadgets are sometimes required). After texting my secret code word to my “lost” phone, nothing happened.
Puzzled, I looked at my online Prey account and everything seemed to be in order. I’d tried it before and it worked fine. Why wasn’t it working?
My “what if it went missing” plan had found yet another snag. (The last time I needed to use it, I had forgotten what the secret code word was!)
Then, I remembered. A few months back, I had to reset my phone back to factory settings. I looked at the apps in my phone and realized I hadn’t re-installed it. My phone was not protected at all!
Note to self: Any time you have to reset your phone, be sure to re-install your tracking app AND when it is updated in the App Store, make sure it’s still connected and running properly.
As I got my phone set up and linked to my Prey account, I tested out my “what if it went missing” plan on my laptop. It worked like a charm!
It was not long before I had a photo of myself staring at the screen, a screenshot of the website I was on and other important data about my use of the computer and internet connection. I also got an EXACT location of my house, right down to the Google street view of my front porch.
I had always wondered what would happen if my device went missing, and now I know. The information I received would be invaluable if it were a real life situation.
Fortunately, my friend ended up finding her laptop, and it was safe all along. But it doesn’t always end that way.
Consider the impact to your life if your device went missing… then act
Make sure you’re prepared BEFORE you need to be. Once you have tools in place, test your plan from time to time to be sure they are working, and, of course, ensure you know how to use them.
Consider the impact on your life and your customers, should your cellphone or laptop come up missing. Do you have it locked down, or can anyone open it? Would you know how to track it?
PreyProject is the best I’ve seen for tracking devices. For personal use, you can track up to 3 items for free, with some limitations. For more peace of mind, choose the $5 or $15 option. There are even plans for businesses.
If you have Apple products, they do have some similar options through their Cloud, which I have heard good things about. Me, I have multiple devices from various manufacturers, and Prey allows me to use one system for everything. Unfortunately it’s a no-go for Kindle Fire users at this time, but the bottom line is, use SOMETHING!
In a pinch, you can also use the Latitude feature on Google Maps by connecting with a few people you’re most often with. This past summer, I lost my phone and I couldn’t get my secret code word on Prey to work (that was the time I had forgotten the code and was nowhere near my notes to figure it out). By using a phone I had previously connected with on Latitude, I was able to find my phone in the parking lot where it had fallen under our vehicle.
Note to self: Remember your code word!
Consider your own “what if it went missing” plan. Are you prepared?
If not, stop what you are doing and make sure you have passwords and at least one tracking system on each of your important devices AND make sure you know how to use it.
Test your “what if it went missing” plan regularly.
Have you lost any of your devices? Did you recover them? Any tips on how to keep them safe?