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How to protect your laptop in cargo when you fly (in pictures)

Here are some ways to lower the risk of theft and hardware damage when you travel.
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1 of 8 PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Before you leave, backup your information

The general rule of thumb used to be: anything you want to see again, don't put in cargo. Now that there is sometimes no choice, apply this rule instead to your data. Use an external hard drive or a cloud service to create a copy of your information before you go.

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2 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Consider the content on your device

Data can be cloned, checked baggage can be stolen. Before you leave home, have a think about what information is stored on your smartphone or laptop and, despite the annoyance which may accompany such a move, you may want to consider removing all but the bare bones from your device.

If you don't want anyone else to see it, either leave it at home as a copy or wipe it.

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3 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

An external storage solution

There is currently nothing in the rules to say that an external hard drive, flash drives, or memory cards which are smaller than your average smartphone cannot be taken with you in the cabin. The prospect of losing critical information from your laptop or tablet, or irreplaceable photos from your camera can be heartbreaking, so keep these storage devices on your person.

If you have any room to spare in your cabin luggage, a protective sleeve or case to keep your storage devices safe is recommended.

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4 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Fully encrypt and password-protect your laptop

At the least, you should make sure your laptop or tablet is password-protected. To enhance your personal security further, fully encrypting your device can make it far more difficult for spying eyes to access your property, as well as view or clone your information.

Encryption guides: Privacy 101: How to encrypt your iPhone in one minute | How to encrypt your Android smartphone or tablet | How to encrypt your Apple Mac | How to encrypt Microsoft Windows machines

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5 of 8 F-Secure

Have a spare?

If you have the budget, taking travel-only "burner" smartphone and laptop without any valuable or sensitive information, account links and data could be a way not only to keep your privacy intact but also to salve the heartache should your devices end up stolen or damaged in transit.

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6 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Sealed, tamper-proof packaging

It is not always evident if someone has been snooping in your things, so consider using sealed and tamper-resistant packaging will at least warn you in the event your bag has been searched without your knowledge.

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7 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Packing properly is key

Cargo bags are thrown about, stacked on top of each other, and the pressure of luggage piled up can create the perfect environment to destroy valuable, delicate electronics.

UrbanArmor offers rugged casing for everything from Samsung smartphones to Apple Mac laptops, Ottorbox has fashionable and slightly cheaper alternatives, but for a sturdy, foam-filled laptop case you can trim to your own specifications, head over to Maplin.

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8 of 8 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

LoJack

One of several tracking services on offer, LoJack is a subscription-based service which uses hard-wipe resistant software embedded in your device's firmware to act as a location tracker and alert system if your laptop is tampered with.

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