It saddens me when I hear about a lost or stolen phone or laptop. Just a few weeks ago a friend lost his phone at a restaurant. His whole life was on there and now it’s gone, possible forever. Contacts, customer information, todo lists, you name it. We live in a technology world, with our lives on those devices and when we lose that tech it can be a tough thing. Then, a few days ago, another friend has a laptop stolen from his car. Unfortunately those things happen and it’s always a bummer when they do.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prevent the total loss, or at least do something to help if your phone or laptop or other device goes missing. The first thing you can do is:
Backup your data.
Having all your files on your laptop is super handy. When you need a file and you’re on the road, you don’t really want to have to VNC into your work computer or worse yet, drive there and put it on a flash drive. It’s much easier to access when it’s already on your computer. But how do you manage that data? What are you doing to insure that you will ALWAYS have access to it?
I use a combination of Windows Live Mesh and Dropbox. Windows Live Mesh is a Windows 7 or Vista only service that will keep selected folders synchronized between two computers. My desktop and home and my laptop have specific files I really need access to in both places. Live Sync keeps those files up to date on each machine every time I connect to the internet. It even has a remote desktop feature where I can log in to the other computer and grab a file that may not be synced. Dropbox is where I place the stuff I might need anywhere. Because Dropbox has a web interface I can log in and download a file that backed up to the service. Dropbox also has very slick mobile apps for Android, iPhone and Blackberry. Both services are free with paid upgrades.
I also use cloud based apps on my Android when possible. When your data is in the cloud it’s much easier to recover. For example, my favorite note taking app is Catch. Catch lets you keep track of ideas and thoughts with text, photos and audio and then seamlessly backs them up to secure servers. Catch is all about security so you don’t have to worry about your ideas being lost or stolen from their servers. A popular alternative to Catch is Evernote although I prefer the simple and effective Catch. Either way, you’re better off than with nothing.
Prey is a wonderful free (up to three devices) service that will help you recover your stolen/lost device. There is no guarantee you’ll get it back, but your best bet is with Prey. Prey installs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS and runs in the background. If your laptop or phone is stolen you simply log in to PreyProject.com and flag your device as missing. A phone can fire up it’s GPS and tell you where it is. A laptop can connect to the nearest open WiFi and start sending you information about its whereabouts including screen captures and shots from your webcam.
Prey does recommend you set up a BIOS password. Simply search for a how-to for your specific computer and set that up. Drop a comment if you need more info on that.
Loosing a device sucks. Take a few minutes and take some preventative measure to protect yourself from loss.