They Stole My Computer, But Not My Life: 3 Ways I Saved 99% of my Data and 100% of My Security

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It all started when my computer was stolen…

When you’re sitting at a restaurant, it’s best practice to grab your computer bag before you square up and leave.

Somehow I forgot that small detail…

I left the spot and walked 5 or so blocks. By the time I realized I couldn’t find my keys, realized they were in my bag, and sprinted back to the restaurant…no one knew a thing about my bag that had been there not 5 minutes before. Pfff…Barcelona.

My computer was stolen. No trail of evidence. No way to track it down. Fantastic way to cap a Saturday night. After the tears and gnashing of teeth…i realized the cloud had a silver lining.

When my computer was stolen i lost less than 1% of my data and was safeguarded from many potential sources of harm. And i want to show you how that was possible…

Most of us already know how and why to safeguard our stuff. But today, i want to create a sense of urgency, and walk you through the exact ways to ensure you’re set up for safety!

These are the 3 most important factors that you can implement today to save yourself lots pain in the future.

Bonus: Get this PDF checklist that’ll help you seamlessly implement all the goods (includes video tutorials)!

1. Get important data in multiple places

The biggest thing that gave me peace of mind when my computer was stolen was that i knew i could access 90% of my data from any laptop or mobile device.

This was possible because of the way i utilize cloud service. Here’s a breakdown of what i use and why:

iCloud – For all photos, music, notes, and calendars. I’m an Apple guy so this just makes sense for me, because it’s seamless across all my devices. These files can also be downloaded from the cloud by logging in to my account on any device. Honestly, iCloud can be confusing as HAIL…so check out the PDF checklist for more detailed info.

Cost – depends on the amount of space. I spend $2.99/ for 200 gb.

Google Drive –  I keep specific files related to things i handle in Gmail, and templates of processes that i repeat often (no specific reason why – just personal preference). This is accessible anywhere with just my Google account credentials.

Cost – FREE

Evernote – I use this to replace word, pages, and notes. My LIFE is on Evernote – I put literally anything and everything here. Random thoughts, writing ideas, meeting notes, webclips, important email threads, etc.  This data can be accessed on any device with my login credentials.

Cost – Evernote is a freemium tool…for 95% of people the FREE version is sufficient.

Dropbox – This where i keep ALL work related files. This makes sense because these files are easily shareable and accessible among colleagues.

With Dropbox, you can get to you data on all allowed devices with login data and further security information. Because i don’t use this stuff on a day-to-day basis, i pick and choose what i want to also have cloned on my local drive.

Cost – Depend on how much space you want. I pay $99/year for 1TB.

Pro tip: Keep personally sensitive data completely off of your physical hard drive. Unfortunately, if your computer is compromised, everything on your HD will be compromised…and we don’t want hackers having our sensitive stuff.

2. Be safe with your Passwords

The reality is most of us are much more susceptible to privacy threats than we want to believe. We use weak passwords and keep our credentials stored on “keychains” on our local hard drive. Some may use an excel sheet to keep track of login information, or even worse, keep a physical book with accounts and passwords written down.

Password wizardry is a two-fold animal:

A. Protect yourself with unique passwords for each site you use

Use a different “auto-generated” password for every login credential, so if one service is compromised, the hackers won’t be able to use your exact login credentials to access any other accounts. There had been rumors that DropBox was hacked, luckily that wasn’t true. But the intruder had accessed another service and simply used the info they had to access people’s Dropbox account and other services like online banking.

B. Use a password manager to easily keep track of all your accounts

Because i use a password manager, i knew my accounts would be safe from access for anyone who got into my stolen computer. The service i use is called LastPass.

The days of failed login attempts and forgotten passwords are over. LastPass remembers all of my login credentials for me, so the only password i have to remember is how to log into LastPass.

The best part is, LastPass is unique because it encrypts your passwords locally, meaning that even if someone hacked the network where your passwords are stored, the information they’d receive would be jumbled nonsense.

Cost – LastPass is a freemium tool…the FREE version works perfectly for me.

3. Backup your HD on an external hard disk

This is different than just keeping some of your files duplicated in multiple places. Backing up your HD is essential taking a snapshot of your entire hard drive that you can revert back to should anything go wrong.

This step is important because it allows you to get right back to where you were at your last backup, and even boot a new computer from your old drive. Honestly, this is the biggest challenge for me because 1) it takes time and 2) i don’t like dealing with hardware. But if remember to plug in while working or watching a movie, it’s normally finished backing-up by the time I finish what i’m doing.

Cost – The price of a good drive varies on quality and size, but they’ve gotten MUCH cheaper with the emergence of cloud-based storage. You can find a good 1TB hard disk for less than $100.

Peeps….we can’t afford to be careless

Please listen to Uncle Adam when i say….WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BE CARELESS WITH OUR DATA!

To help you, i’ve made a step-by-step PDF checklist so you don’t miss anything important. 

The checklist will show you:

  • The #1 tools that i use to keep my personal data safe
  • How i set these services up, and use them on a daily basis
  • Helpful links and video tutorials to guide you safely along
  • Other recommendations, details, and tricks…

Click here to download the Checklist.