In the digital age, our lives are stored on hard drives. I’m not speaking literally of course, but with all our surfing history, online banking services and email all accessed through our computers, there is an awful lot of data to lose if your computer goes missing or gets stolen, yet many people still fail to have any form of security stopping would-be thieves from accessing all the information on your hard drive if they got hold it.
Increasing the security on your machine isn’t difficult, in fact many of the features you need are built in to your operating system. If you’re using Windows, then there are a number of measures that you can take to protect your data, so let’s take a look at a few.
Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
The first line of security on any Windows computer is the login screen. By default, some users may have their computer to automatically log them in, bypassing this security, or annoyance, altogether. If you keep anything remotely personal or important on your machine, then you’ll probably want to get this login screen earning it’s keep again; after all, it’s there for a reason.
The easiest way to enable this option in Windows 7 without clicking a few too many links is to hit the Windows key + R. This will open a command box. Simply type “control userpasswords2” in the field, and you will be taken to a user accounts settings window. If the check box saying “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” is unchecked, then check it, and users will have to enter a username and password before being allowed to login. Hit ‘Apply’ and you’re all set!
Encryption Made Easy
Microsoft introduced drive encryption software, called BitLocker, in Windows Vista Ultimate and Enterprise editions, and it is available in the same editions of Windows 7 as well. BitLocker helps to keep your data secure by encrypting your entire hard drive, so if your computer is stolen then it would be incredibly difficult for your data to be compromised, especially by the average Joe.
To enable BitLocker, go to Control Panel > System and Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption, or just type ‘BitLocker’ in the search field of your Start menu. This will open an overview of the drives BitLocker can encrypt. Simply click ‘Turn on BitLocker’ next to the drive which you want to encrypt, and a wizard will appear to guide you through the setup. Hit ‘Next’ a few times, restart your machine, and boom! All of your data is securely encrypted. You can choose to encrypt external drives with BitLocker just as easily, which is a really neat feature to have if you carry important information on an external hard drive or USB flash drive.
Anti-Virus Is Your Best Friend
Seasoned Windows users will know the importance of a reliable anti-virus system, but if you don’t know your Nortons from your Kasperskys, then you should read up on a few. This is one area where you don’t want to trust the first product you find on the internet.
So there you have it! Three really simple ways to make your Windows PC more secure in case it’s stolen. Of course this is just scratching the surface of computer security, but for most users it will prove to be more than enough when faced with the situation of your computer being stolen.
If you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to know what you think.