According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, more than 637,000 notebooks vanish each year in mid-to-large airports.
With some help from Microsoft, I've put together a list of instructions (click on image at left for gallery) on how to encrypt files or folders in Windows XP and Windows Vista.
[ GALLERY: How to encrypt data on your laptop ]
In addition to encryption, which I highly recommend, be sure to protect your laptop with a strong password and back up your information before hitting the road
If you are travelling through a US airport, you already know about having to remove your laptop from your bag to go through the security scanner. Richard Stiennon has some really good advice on how to make sure you don't misplace your laptop in the midst of trying to find your shoes, best and cellphone:
- Place your laptop in the first bin you put on the belt of the X-ray machine. You should put your laptop bag in front of it.
- Put the bin with your shoes, belt, purse, wallet, etc. right behind your laptop. And your carry-on bag last. The first thing you should do on the other side is put your laptop in its bag before the other luggage crashes into it and dumps it on the floor. Your other stuff separates it from the person behind you and in front of you.
- Mark your laptop! Put a sticker on it. I know people hate to do this. But you should identify your laptop in such a way that you can quickly identify it. There are lots of Dell computers our there. I have almost picked up the wrong laptop on many occasions. DO NOT TAPE YOUR BUSINESS CARD TO YOUR LAPTOP. Do not become a target by letting potential laptop thieves know just how valuable your laptop may be. My favorite marker for my Dell Latitude is the white Apple sticker I got with my iPod.
- If you lose your laptop contact the TSA immediately. Call the airport. Take action. I bet in 99% of the cases you can get it back.