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When taking trips that last more than a day I always worry just a little bit about the risk of a burglary. What can I do to mitigate the risk of my computer being stolen and the data being compromised? My main strategy so far is to shift all useful data onto an external drive and take it with me on the trip, but I'm not sure that's adequate, and I'm not sure how to find the entire set of data that I'd have to shift.

I'm not prepared to take the kinds of steps that would be required to foil a determined thief; what I really want to do is make it so that if someone walks off with my computer I only have to worry about its replacement cost.

(I'm having a hard time finding an alternate question that contains what I want to know. This question is the closest but the answers focus on laptop physical theft prevention. Backups, on the other hand, give me data recovery but not security against data theft. If someone points to useful alternate questions and then closes this one, that's good enough for me.)

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Use disk encryption and make off-site backups

If you don't have an edition of Windows-7 that includes disk encryption, you can download and install something like TrueCrypt or any of the many commercial equivalents.

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Get a hard drive docking bay, then pull the drive when you take off. That way you don't need to worry about what to sync since you have the entire drive with you.

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That doesn't fit a laptop. – surfasb Dec 17 '11 at 20:43
Uh... with a laptop you just take the WHOLE THING with you... – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Dec 17 '11 at 20:47
On a business trip, your laptop can be stolen from any number of places: hotel room, rental car, baggage claim, or even lifted when right at your feet. So unless it is handcuffed to you, your answer nor your comment are viable options. – surfasb Dec 17 '11 at 20:52
Downvoter, please note that the question is about desktops. – jprete Dec 17 '11 at 21:16

First thing first....have a BIOS Password, strong enough not to be broken.

After that you can have a variety of disk encryption and OS related security. But if you BIOS is not secure, anyone can alter your system which is same as data stealing.

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Wouldn't this require one's BIOS to be secure against resetting somehow? – jprete Dec 17 '11 at 21:17
now, if u meant hardware jumper reset..then nothing can be done in that case... – Vineet Menon Dec 19 '11 at 7:12

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