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Protecting Data, Cheap and Easy

Last week a thief broke into my car and got my MacBook. Three years of journal entries, pictures and research papers all gone, nothing backed up.

I asked Facebook friends and industry experts for solutions, to prevent a next time. A few of the tips sounded great, but just too much work: store everything on an external hard drive, and keep it in a separate room; back up the iPad several times a week; store documents on DropBox (or iCloud) everyday.
 
While some excel at protecting their data, most of us don’t. If you're more into Jenny Craig than CrossFit when it comes to data fitness, here’s a quick read for you.
 
BACK UP DATA
 
It’s easy and cheap (free to about $50/year, depending on size of files) to store files on your hard-drive to the cloud. BackBlaze backs up all the time so you don't have to remember. Or you can schedule BackBlaze to work at a convenient time or only when you click “Backup Now.” Carbonite seems to work too. Others like CrashPlan.
 
DATA THEFT PROTECTION
 
Say thieves get your device and you’re worried they got your password (or you forgot to set one!). Like magic, tools like Find My iPhone for Apple and Prey for PCs track down your laptop and delete files on it.             
Laptop Cop and LoJack can remotely delete files too. LoJack performs a secure overwrite operation to make the files totally unrecoverable.
 
There’s also Lookout. If someone enters the wrong password three times, the front-facing camera automatically snaps a picture an emails the location and mugshot of the thief. “It’s not meant to be a surveillance feature,” says Kevin Mahaffey, Chief Technology Officer. “It’s meant to be a tool in case of theft, a logging device to provide evidence to police.”
 
STRONG PASSWORDS
 
Many people get hacked because of weak passwords. Set a strong password with encryption, via Apple FileVault or on Android, the checkbox “encrypt this.” Various password managers create good passwords for you and put them in a safe place in case you forget.
 
Mahaffey is a big advocate for encryption: “Unlike a decade ago, where it would slow down your computer, encryption is extremely fast these days. I run it on everything because one, I’m paranoid. But two, it has really no difference in user experience.”
 
The one downside: if you forget the password, depending on the device, you may be totally locked out.
 
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