How to Protect Your Laptop from Theft

lojackEvery 50 seconds, a laptop goes missing.   Laptops are a common target of theft.  In addition, because of their portable nature, laptops are misplaced, lost, or simply left behind.  Last year, my wife’s laptop was stolen from our home.  Since that time, I have been looking at effective solutions to protect information and recover stolen property.
Thankfully, my wife is not what some would call a ‘power user’.  Her laptop didn’t have much in the way of personal information.  She only used her little netbook to access Facebook, Gmail, and sync her iPhone to iTunes.  All of our taxes, scanned records, financial databases, etc are on my computer.  After filing a police report, we changed the passwords to her various online accounts.  The police report did little to recover her laptop, so I perused local pawn shops for weeks afterwards hoping it would show up.  It didn’t.  So, I tried several free software solutions that promised to secure stolen data.  Of course, every solution requires a program be installed on your computer BEFORE it is lost or stolen. LaptopLock is free, but hasn’t been updated since 2007. Enter LoJack for laptops.
LoJack for Laptops works on nearly every version of Windows and Mac OS X v.10.3 and higher.  Some models of laptops even have a module built into the BIOS that lets the software persist even after a hard drive format.  That means even if the laptop is completely erased, you still have a shot at recovering your equipment.
For $99, you get three years of guaranteed protection to locate, lock, delete, and recover your laptop.  The service is transferable to another laptop if you buy a new machine in that time.  LoJack even has a theft recovery team that works with law enforcement to help recover your machine.  LoJack protects your laptop in these five ways, but only if you have signed up your account and installed the client software BEFORE your property goes missing!

After you sign up for an account, you will receive a download link with a registration key.  It is recommended to print out the registration code and keep it in your fire safe / safety deposit box.  Installation on your laptop is straight forward, with little to no installation options.  Just click it and go.  Once installed, log into the web portal at to access  services such as Locate, Recover, Lock / Unlock, and Delete Files.
The premium account Geolocation feature accurately found my location at the law office.
You must enable protection services to gain access to other features such as recover, lock, and delete.
Recover computer is really the reason you pay for the service.  You must first file a police report and then Absolute’s theft recovery team will work with local law enforcement to recover your laptop.  After submitting the theft report, the geolocation and lock feature are no longer available.  This is required by Absolute to facilitate the investigation.  However, if your laptop was merely left behind, you may want to Lock your computer.
Locking the computer requires you to enter your PIN, so be sure to write that information down on your registration code print out.  Once locked, you will receive an email telling you the locked status and when it is successful.
In my test, locking took about 3 to 5 minutes.  You are given the opportunity to place a message on the screen.  This is great if you maybe just left your laptop at Starbucks and want to have your phone number pop up on screen.  The locking persisted after a hard shutdown and reboot.  There was a short amount of time during reboot where you can click into the start menu or desktop, but all in all, it works as expected.
Deleting files can only be accessed while the computer is UNLOCKED.  Options exist to delete all files or selectively delete files based on file type.  If you have previously accessed your account and added local files to delete, they will show up here as well.  Note the notice at the bottom: “I acknowledge that initializing data delete fulfills the service guarantee and Absolute shall no longer be subject to any monetary payout.”