About 2 weeks ago my teenage son spent the night at a friend’s house.  Apparently quite a few people spent the night.  The next day I got a call, “Mom, I need your help and please stay calm…”  Well, hello???  What mom’s brain doesn’t jump to the absolute worst conclusion when their child says that??

I suppose after the first few things that went through my head I should have let out a sigh of relief when he said “Someone stole my laptop.  I need my serial number.”  Well… I was glad he wasn’t hurt but I was MAD!  If we are friends on Facebook and you were around that evening, you would know I was so mad I wanted someone arrested or at least to get a bad mark on their record…

Sadly, the computer has not been found and no one has fessed up.  Which still makes me mad at kids who will steal from each other but is a good lesson to my kid to LOCK EVERYTHING and not be so trusting.  I just got him a laptop lock to take to college – he better use it.

Since I don’t like to stay that angry for too long I started looking on the bright side – at least the computer was almost 4 years old and we were due for a new one soon… it wasn’t 4 months old.

We are also very thankful that I had a family plan backup system so he didn’t lose the music he had spent over 50 hours creating – we were able to recover it.

A few years ago my computer guy recommended CrashPlan – they have free backup plans and those you pay for depending on the amount of data you have, etc.  I went with the family plan so I could back up multiple computers and my external hard drives and manage it all in one place.

It was really easy to go in and get the file that was the most important from the stolen computer.  We just logged on, hit RESTORE and could see what files were there.  Then we downloaded what we needed.  Lost a computer but at least he didn’t lose his creation!

Here is a link to their article about how to control what is being backed up – this is where you go to add external drives if you are like me and keep much or all of your art outside of your actual computer.  http://support.crashplan.com/doku.php/how_to/change_what_is_being_backed_up

(I have no vested interest in you signing up for CrashPlan – just SO HAPPY that they were there and customer service did what they could to help us.  Another service that many use is Carbonite but there are lots of options out there – just backup – however and where ever, ok?)

When the computer was first stolen, the police thought we might be able to find it through CrashPlan.  It didn’t connect to the backup system for days but we continue to look at send them the IP address.  Sadly there are probably more vital things to do than search for our 4 year old laptop.

The lessons we have learned and hope you don’t have to learn in the same way:

1.  Have a backup system.  Not only can your computer crash, but it can also walk out the door with a stranger.

2.  If you use a laptop and move around with it a bit, put some security in place.  Lock it if you leave it in a hotel room or other place that isn’t under your constant care.  Consider installing software that will help you track it and find a thief if need be.  One that we are considering is PreyProject.com but we are open to suggestions if you have any!

3.  Keep track of all of your serial numbers for your electronics!  I had them for everything BUT this computer and it took me almost 3 hours to track it down. (It wasn’t registered under the same Apple ID as everything else)  I now have a list in several places.  If you don’t have that, the police can’t help you.  Otherwise if someone is foolish enough to try and pawn a stolen item and the police already have the serial number, they will find out.

SO… hopefully I won’t have “bad news inspired blog posts” coming on a regular basis but I did want to share this with you.  Here’s to your data and device safety!

– Tara Reed