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How this $50 laptop accessory can save you thousands of dollars

Every laptop user needs the Universal Laptop Lock for work and travel. Here's why.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock

StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock is available from Amazon for $46.
  • Solid, well-made laptop lock is more than enough to deter an opportunistic thief.
  • Not the lightest, most convenient thing to carry about.

As tech gadgets become increasingly compact and lightweight, they become more vulnerable to theft. It may be nearly impossible to eliminate the risk, but you can significantly deter thieves.

Also: 7 hacking tools that look harmless but can do real damage

One tool I've found to be quite effective is the StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock. It's a 6.6-foot, cut-resistant steel cable with a lock on one end that fits a variety of security slots. The opposite end features a loop, which you can secure around an immovable object, making it considerably more challenging for someone to walk away with your device. 

View at Amazon

The specs

  • Lock: Tubular lock (two keys supplied) with ball joint design that allows for 360-degree rotation and 90-degree pivot
  • Cable length: 6.6-foot (2 meters)
  • Compatibility: Noble Wedge, K-Slot (T-Bar), and Nano lock slots

Laptop locks are not a new concept, and thanks to the variety of security slots that are found on devices -- from laptops to docking stations -- finding the right lock can be troublesome.

The Universal Laptop Lock addresses this issue with an adjustable tip that fits the three most common security slot types. Simply twist the adjuster to modify the size of the tip to match your device.

Adjustable tip on the lock allows it to fit the most popular sizes of security slot.

An adjustable tip on the lock allows it to fit the most popular sizes of security slots.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Note: A popular line of laptops that don't have any security slots are Apple's MacBooks. 

Also: What is GaN? Everything you need to know about gallium nitride-based charging tech

Additionally, the Universal Laptop Lock comes with a set of spacers that ensure the lock sits snugly against the body of the device, preventing any rattling or scratching.

Spacers to allow for a better fit.

Spacers to allow for a better fit.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The cable also includes a loop on the opposite end that can be secured around a table leg or any other sturdy anchor point. With a thickness of 0.17 inches (4.4 mm), the robust cable is composed of cut-resistant carbon steel, making it a formidable challenge to cut through with a hacksaw or shears.

While no lock is entirely foolproof, and a skilled individual might defeat this lock in under a minute, it is not likely that an opportunist thief will possess the expertise or tools required to breach this lock without the key.

The swivel lock comes complete with two keys.

The swivel lock comes complete with two keys.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The lock is engineered to resist brute force attempts, such as yanking and pulling, countering aggressive forms of attack. This robust design serves as a substantial deterrent against theft. 

StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock fitted into a security slot

StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock fitted into a security slot

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

All in all, this is a tough lock that's well-designed to keep your stuff secured. The only real downside: a steel cable weighing some 5.2 oz (147 g) is a fair weight to lug around with you if you plan on using this when out and about.

ZDNET's buying advice

While a determined or skilled attacker could potentially overcome this lock, such individuals are rare. It's the opportunist thief who poses the greatest risk, and a robust lock like this one will likely make them reconsider before attempting to steal your belongings. I think this makes the StarTech.com Universal Laptop Lock a worthwhile buy for under $50. 

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