You wouldn’t walk out of the house without locking the front door, would you? Or leave your car keys on the table at Starbucks while you retrieve your decaf Caramel Macchiato? The same should hold true for your iPad or Android tablet, yet surprisingly, many owners’ lax behavior invites opportunities for theft or loss.
Here are four tips to keep your tablet — and its valuable contents — safe and secure.
1. Pay attention! It’s easy to get absorbed in your tablet’s ease of mobility and seemingly infinite variety of applications and lose track of where you are and what’s going on around you. That said, never let your tablet out of your sight. Store it in a backpack, purse, or other carrying case — and keep it with you at all times. (Don’t leave it on, say, the front seat of your car, in plain view of opportunity-seeking thieves.)
Subways and other congested spaces are high-risk areas for tablet owners. Transport your tablet either in a bag that’s strapped to your body or inside a briefcase where no one can see it. At the airport, hold off putting your tablet on the X-ray conveyor belt until you’re ready to walk through the metal detector, and keep a close eye on it as it emerges on the other side.
2. Use a strong password. A strong password or passcode is the first line of defense for safeguarding the data on your tablet. Avoid the obvious (and laziest) passcodes, including “WXYZ,” “5678,” and anything that involves your first or last name.
Apple offers tools for protecting your iPad, such as an easy, three-step process to configure a passcode (Settings > General > Passcode Lock) and the ability to configure your tablet to automatically erase all contents after 10 failed passcode attempts. Android tablets offer similar passcode security, as well as a third option: Drawing a simple shape or pattern on a 3 x 3 grid with your fingertip.
Remember to frequently back up your data and keep electronic copies of your contacts, photographs, and other valuable information. Most tablets can back up data wirelessly.
3. Make it easy to contact you. In the event of an inexplicable loss of awareness (also known as “What was I thinking?”) and thus your tablet, you can make it easy for honest citizens to return the device.
Write your email address — and not your home address or phone number — on a piece of paper and use a photo of this image as your tablet’s wallpaper. (An If Found Lock Screen app works for iPad, and the Android Contact Owner app serves the same purpose.) In most cases, a simple email address is all that’s needed for a good Samaritan to get in touch with you.
4. Set up “find my tablet” functions. In the event of the loss or disappearance of your iPad, Apple’s Find My iPad app allows you to track its location and remotely wipe the device. (Remember to enable this function before hitting the road). Android tablet owners can enjoy similar protection by downloading apps such as Lookout Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security, or Webroot Mobile Security.
Always download apps from reputable sources (iTunes for iPads and Google Play or Amazon Appstore for Android). Stay away from apps with slightly different spellings of their names; they often contain malware. The same goes for any app that requests permission to send SMS messages or otherwise access to your system or network.
Like any other precious possession, your tablet (or your smartphone) can be lost or stolen in the blink of an eye. A few precautionary steps can dramatically lessen that possibility.