1. Use A Physical Lock
The most basic way to protect your laptop is to secure it – with a physical lock. Laptop locks are pretty cheap and normally allow you to secure the laptop to a table or desk. Make sure you pick out a good quality laptop lock (I like Kensington laptop locks).
2. Set A Notebook Alarm
A notebook alarm, you ask? Yes, there are notebook alarms, much like there are car alarms. You can buy and set a notebook alarm ensuring that it goes off when a thief tries to cut your laptop cable. It'll definitely give the thieving fella a good scare! The Belkin notebook alarm below is quite a good buy.
3. Motion-Sensing Alarm
Another kind of notebook alarm is the motion-sensing kind of alarm. These types of alarms effectively create a 'force field' around your laptop. If a thief steps inside that zone, the alarm goes off. Very effective, and the Doberman security series is a good recommendation if you're keen to get something like that.
4. Recovery Tags
Just like lost luggage bags, the good old recovery tag can be used for laptops. If someone finds your laptop, he or she can refer to the recovery tag and call an 800 number to return it to you. Some of these tag manufacturers even offer prepaid returns to give some reward or incentive for the guy who picked it up.
5. Software Recovery Services
Here's an interesting bent to laptop theft. Imagine having a software that's installed in your laptop that tracks its location. If your laptop has been stolen and booted up, the software can track down the location of the machine! Some software programs (eg Absolute Software's Lojack for Laptops) can even function if the thief successfully re-installs the operating system.
If you own Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate editions, they come with a drive-encryption feature called BitLocker. You can use this to encrypt your hard drive – if the laptop gets stolen, the thief will have a tough time accessing your confidential documents.
Well, as you can see, there are tons of ways to protect your laptop from thieves. The next time you are out and about and need to leave your laptop alone, apply one or two of the tips above and ensure the thief does not get to your stuff. Good luck!