How to Keep Your Laptop Safe All Semester

College life isn’t always very friendly to laptops. A student is often carries their laptop with them all day long. This presents a number of opportunities for something to go wrong – theft, damage or some other unexpected event.

Whether you attend school on campus or virtually, you need your laptop to remain both safe and in proper working order. Here are some easy tips which should help you and your laptop survive every semester:

How to Prevent Day-to-Day Damage

Campus can be crowded. You want to prevent your laptop from being bumped, bruised and jostled as you move from class to class. Even if you attend a virtual campus, you’ll still likely spend some time using your laptop away from your home. Sitting in a coffee shop carries risks, too. You want to avoid damage from spilled liquids and other environmental hazards

The best way to keep your laptop safe is to buy a laptop bag. Make sure the laptop fits securely into the bag. You want a bag with plenty of padding — enough to provide a cushion for the laptop if you bang the bag into anything. Padding of at least a quarter inch should provide enough protection.

You also want a bag made of durable material which can withstand liquids and is tear-resistant. However, you want to stay away from anything which clearly indicates you’re carrying a computer. Otherwise you can be a target for thieves. Instead, you want to use a low-key, non-descript bag which could be mistaken for a book bag.

Tips to Prevent Theft

Generally speaking, the right bag and a careful manner will prevent most damage. What you really need to watch out for on campus is theft. The three most common areas where laptops are likely to be stolen are:

  • Libraries
  • Coffee shops
  • Public study areas

What’s the best way to keep your laptop secure? Keep it in your sight at all times. While this is a simple solution, it’s not easy as it sounds. Do you really need to take your laptop with you when you’re a coffee shop and need to quickly use the bathroom? Do you need to take it along for a quick trip down the aisle of the library when you need to grab off the shelf?

Well, yes. Thieves are always out there and they can strike much faster than you’d expect. Don’t expect the wait staff of a coffee shop or your fellow library-goers to watch over your laptop. Someone could scoop your electronics and be out the door in less than a minute. The number one theft prevention method for college is to never leave your laptop unattended in public, even for a short time.

Locks and Physical Security

Most laptops have a security slot. This is also often called a Kensington slot (after the manufacturer, whose locks became the industry standard). These locks allow you to use a cable to securely connect your laptop to a desk or other fixed object. Obviously, the risk of theft goes down pretty dramatically if your laptop suddenly comes paired with a table.

Locks and Virtual Security

You want to lock your computer so it can only be accessed by you. Almost all laptops can be set to open only once a password is entered. Some laptops have fingerprint scanning technology (although the merits of this tech are under debate). No matter what security method you use, you want to keep your laptop secured when you’re not around.

If the laptop is secured with a cord and a Kensington slot, you probably can go grab a book from an aisle or run another quick errand. But if a thief can even access your computer, they can potentially do a lot of damage. They can steal files, learn passwords and obtain other important information.

Install Anti-Virus Software

As you can see, your laptop can be chained to your desk at home and still be vulnerable to thieves. You want to protect yourself against cybercrime by installing protective software. Individual needs vary but you’ll typically want:

  • Anti-Virus Software
  • Anti-Malware Software
  • Firewall

Tracking Software

There are numerous free and paid options for tracking software. These use your IP address and nearby wireless systems to pinpoint your laptop’s location. Perfect for tracking down a missing or stolen laptop. Also, if the laptop is stolen you can configure the software to allow you to remotely record via your camera, silently delete files or perform other functions.

Another type of tracking software is the kind offered through subscription services such as LoJack. This type of tracking is very hard to remove. Even if the hard drive is wiped or replaced, the LoJack software can reinstall itself automatically on laptops.


Laptops are designed to be portable and lightweight. While this is good for students, it’s also good for thieves. They can grab your laptop and be out the door in just a few minutes. Fortunately, preventing theft is easy. Simply keep your laptop locked up and in your sight when in public. To prevent damage, store your laptop in a thick, durable and non-descript bag.

Securing your laptop is easy, inexpensive and can prevent a lot of problems. With these tips, your laptop will be with you all the way until graduation… and beyond.

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