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How to protect data on your laptop


Your laptop is a treasure trove of personal and confidential information – make sure it is as secure as possible.

If you use a laptop, then most likely your whole life is on it: your financial statements, your plans for the future, your entire photo and video library, your company’s sales reports, and so on. What you don’t want is for anyone else to gain unauthorized access to this data.

The good news is that both Windows and macOS make it easy to secure your laptop and prevent your files from falling into the wrong hands.

Make sure you have your own user account set up on your laptop, even if you’re the only one using it. Even if your laptop is stolen, if it has a password-protected user account, there is nothing a thief can do but reset it and wipe the data.

Microsoft and Apple know this is important, so it will be difficult for you to set up a new laptop without creating an account. We advise you to avoid sharing accounts with other people, it is better to create your own account for each user of the device. You can manage user accounts from Accounts in Settings on Windows (via the gear icon on the Start menu) or from Users & Groups in System Preferences (on the Apple menu) on macOS.

How to protect data on your laptop

  • Make sure you use a password or code that no one can guess (but that you will never forget).
  • Avoid reusing passwords you already use. on your other accounts.
  • We also recommend that you set your laptop to auto-lock the screen so that it returns to the lock screen after a short period of inactivity. To enable this, go to Accounts -> Sign- in Options in Windows Settings, and Security & Privacy -> General in macOS System Preferences.

Both Windows and macOS now support biometric authentication for laptop accounts—fingerprint and facial recognition—so use those features where they’re available. They are not an excuse to forget your primary account password, as you will still need it in certain situations (for example, when you restart your laptop or when you need to make significant changes to the system).

Use system-wide encryption

Encryption is usually enabled by default on both Windows and macOS laptops, although it may not be present on older computers. Basically, this makes the data on your hard drive appear to be encrypted if you access it in an unusual way – meaning it will be a lot harder for someone to get the drive out of your computer and access the files that are on it. are stored.

If your Windows laptop is relatively new, it should already have encryption enabled. You can check this by clicking the gear icon in the start menu to go to Settings, then go to Update & Security and Device Encryption. If the encryption option is available but not enabled, you can do so from the same menu.

How to protect data on your laptop

MacBooks usually use encryption when they are first set up, unless you specifically choose not to. To verify that encryption is in place, open the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences, Security & Privacy, and FileVault. If FileVault hasn’t been enabled on your laptop for any reason, you can enable it here. Follow the instructions in Settings to secure your data with a password associated with your Apple ID.

For an extra layer of protection for certain files and folders, you can also install a third-party encryption tool. This is useful, for example, to lock data stored on external hard drives or data that is synchronized between different cloud storage services. VeraCrypt is one of the best options for Windows and macOS and is open source and free to use.

Use dedicated app protections

Don’t neglect the various protections that are available for certain applications – if someone else guesses your password, gets access to your computer, then this additional security measure will be the only thing that stands between them and your data.

Different programs have their own protection options: we cannot describe them all here. For example, in Microsoft Office applications, you can add password protection to your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations by selecting File, Info, Protect Document, and Encrypt with Password (Windows) or View , Protect and Protect Document (macOS).

How to protect data on your laptop

A similar option is available if you’re using the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps that come with macOS—you just need to select File and Set Password to add protection. As a bonus, setting a password in any of these programs also encrypts the file, so no one can access the data without the password.

Apple Notes, included with macOS, is another utility with a password protection feature. To lock a note, select File and Lock Note, then enter a password of your choice – just make sure you remember it, because without it you won’t be able to get back to the note.

Password protection is also present in Telegram. In the privacy settings of the messenger, you can set a passcode, without which it will be impossible to access the correspondence. We also advise you to set up two-factor authentication.

Turn on "Find my device"

If your laptop falls into the wrong hands, both Windows and macOS come with tools that let you locate your computer on a map and lock it down remotely. We don’t recommend tracking down the person who has it without the help of the authorities, but locking your laptop or wiping it of any sensitive information (a feature available on macOS) is definitely a good idea.

On Windows, go to Update & Security in Settings, then select Find My Device and make sure the feature is enabled. To find your laptop on a map, sign in with your Microsoft account and click Devices, then Find my device. On Windows, you can’t remotely wipe a device, but you can at least lock it so it can’t be accessed without a password.

How to protect data on your laptop

On macOS, this feature is called "Find My", but you’ll first need to make sure you’ve signed up your Mac with Find My, to do so, in System Preferences, select your Apple ID, then iCloud, and click Options next to Find My Mac ». If Find My Mac is checked in the list, you will be able to find your laptop.

Find My is in a separate app on iPhone and iPad, but you can also access it via iCloud in a browser. You can lock your MacBook remotely, completely erase all data on it, or mark it as lost, in which case the message you specified will be displayed on the screen, and new notifications will be turned off.

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