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What are some tips/suggestions for travelling with a laptop through a region like South East Asia? More specifically, Thailand / Laos / Malaysia. But again, also just looking for general tips/advice.

I've already got some bases covered as I'm using a MacBook Air so weight/size isn't too much of an issue, but what about stuff like:

  • General Security in not losing it
  • Data Security - connecting to unsafe Wifi & Using Proxy to be safe
  • Backing up Computer Data - is just using a cloud service like DropBox the best or are there other tips?

I'm not an idiot and understand there are certain situations where I should keep the laptop hidden, but I'm really just looking for advice from someone has travelled a lot in a similar place with a laptop.

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It depends on where are you going to. Singapore? Indonesia? Malaysia? –  Rudy Gunawan Oct 18 '12 at 5:59
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and where in those countries. In Indonesia internet access and even electricity can be spotty. The big tourist locations should be fine (with even free WiFi in hotels) but in the smaller villages you may not even have electricity, let alone telephone and/or 3G service so no internet either. –  jwenting Oct 18 '12 at 6:32
    
Edited above :) –  bryceadams Oct 18 '12 at 8:11
    
Don't know about Indonesia but in many places, mobile phone service is actually more widespread than reliable electricity at home. –  Relaxed Feb 4 at 15:35

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted
  1. To avoid your laptop from being stolen I would recommend to use a laptop locker (Kensington lock). I use it quite a lot and it is really comfortable. It looks like this:

    Product shot of Kensington lock in action

    Basically you can avoid having someone who grabs your laptop and runs away. The cable is quite strong, it is not so easy to cut it off.

  2. If you're worried about your private data in your laptop, I would recommend to encrypt it. Use something like TrueCrypt to encrypt your data and then decrypt them on-the-fly when you need them. This will also limit the damage in case your laptop is stolen.

  3. To backup your data, there are a lot of different systems. One is Dropbox, as you mention. In my opinion it is a good system if you want to share/backup some medium sized data that aren't confidential. Be aware that your data is not encrypted when storing it with Dropbox. So I wouldn't share confidential data with Dropbox. Another option would be to use the dedicated MacOS backup named TimeMachine. You could just carry a small USB or Thunderbolt hard disc drive with you and then backup once a day. It is relatively easy to recover and the backup works automatically. You could also use a big USB stick and backup your data as necessary. It all depends on the size and the kind of data you want to store, but you could also think about version control systems that are mainly used in software development to backup and version your data. I use this quite a lot for my latex files, for example.

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There's no reason why you can't combine TrueCrypt and Dropbox (or other online storage service)-- I have an inconspicuous TrueCrypt volume in Dropbox which holds a lot of personal and work-related information I want to have handy everywhere at all times but don't want to leave in plain sight. –  mindcorrosive Oct 18 '12 at 7:58
    
Nice tip about TrueCrypt. I like the idea of integrating it with DropBox / My own personal server. Looking into that Kensington-like lock now. Definitely a good idea for when I'm using the laptop in busy public areas. And yeah I'm quite familiar with Git/SVN as I'm a software/web developer myself. Probably not a bad idea to make a private repository with all my docs in it! –  bryceadams Oct 18 '12 at 8:14
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@mindcorrosive There is a reason. If you share your TrueCrypt container with Dropbox, then you always have to sync the whole container and not only the files that changed. –  RoflcoptrException Oct 18 '12 at 9:23
    
DropBox is actually a horrible program. When you try to uninstall it, it will say it has been removed from the system, but the web-beacon is still active. It requires a safe-mode boot to get rid of the beacon and remaining program binaries. If you fail at removing it completely, some of the binaries are 'repaired'. It may be convenient, but I don't trust software that tries to phone home and actively resists removal. –  Jacco Oct 19 '12 at 15:20
    
At least some MacBook Airs do not have a slot for a Kensington lock. Kensington offers this: kensington.com/kensington/us/us/s/2844/… –  MastaBaba Jul 8 '13 at 8:32

This question over on Security Stack Exchange focuses on business travelers, but has some useful information including:

  • Carry as little data as possible over borders.
  • Keep a backup of your data elsewhere.
  • Encrypt the data on your device.
  • Protect the data on your devices with passwords.
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If you want to back up your data online there are some automatic options like Mozy, Crashplan and Backblaze which will automatically back your data up.

However, if wi-fi is going to be patchy you may wish to invest in a good external HD that will allow you to maintain your own backup.

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I traveled a lot with my laptop and by not showing it around you do the biggest step. Also to make sure the cleaning staff doesn't get seduced you shouldn't have a big lock on your bag. This of course only counts for cheap accommodation whereas more expensive hotels tend to be more secure in this kind of matter.

Having your laptop in an inconspicuous bag locked to the bed or sth. like that with a kensington lock as suggested from RoflcoptrException is the best solution in my opinion.

Still, leaving all valuables at home is the securest way :P

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I think a good point also would be to say that Apple products are more eye-catching than other brands.

Even if you are tempted I would go for something that does NOT bare the Apple.

Sometimes it's the small details...

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