Best lock for my laptop?
September 14, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Laptop lock question. Yes I know you people hate locks, but please bear with me!

It's very possible that I will be changing my work situation and either going part-time or working from home or some combination thereof. For a myriad of reasons, I will probably be using my 13" late-2008 white MacBook as my primary machine. Occasionally I would be working in the office and potentially bringing in the MB instead of using one of the in-house desktops. Our office is pretty safe but it's undergoing renovation and there are a lot of people coming and going. I'd like to invest in some kind of lock to tether the computer to the desk, and I'd like your input for product recommendations.

I realize that this question has been asked before but the vast majority of the answers were along the lines of "any lock can be picked or cut." I get this. However, a locked-down laptop is less enticing than an unlocked laptop. It wouldn't be unattended for very long at any time.

I understand that Kensington locks have been popular, is that still the case? Are there specific models that are better or more suited to my computer?

TLDR: Best laptop lock for 13" white MacBook.
posted by radioamy to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Best answer: My take is that no laptop lock will deter a determined thief, but any laptop lock used properly will deter a casual thief. Kensington is fine.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:51 PM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The combination laptop locks are actually pretty easy to thwart without knowing the combination, usually in a few seconds. I've got a keyed Kensington lock, and am pretty happy with it.
posted by mhoye at 12:53 PM on September 14, 2011

Tossing a lock on it also means a would-be thief will have to bank more time for the act of theft. Most laptop thefts I've known are ones of convenience, where only a few seconds are afforded. So nth'ing a key based Kensington....have used them regularly during events with lots of people around with no problems.
posted by samsara at 12:55 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: Laptop locks aren't about stopping all theft; like bicycle locks, they are good for making stealing a laptop just enough trouble so that you can leave it sitting on a library table for long enough to go to the washroom.

I've used a kensington lock in the past; I think it was a combo, and my laptop was safe in a library known for laptop thefts. More important than the lock is double checking that the case is correctly made so the lock doesn't just snap it (as happened to one cheap laptop I had); this is unlikely to be a problem with a Macbook.
posted by jb at 1:14 PM on September 14, 2011

Not that you want to lock your bicycle to a table to go to the washroom; my point was just that bicycle locks are more about deterence than absolute impenetrability. I wouldn't leave a bike locked up overnight in high traffic area, but for an afternoon, it's fine.
posted by jb at 1:16 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: cylinder key>straight key>combination - after that it's a matter of preference. Coated cables, pretty colors, it's really, like everyone else said, just about making it take 5 minutes to steal instead of 5 seconds or less.
posted by pupdog at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2011

Response by poster: Are there any Kensington locks that are better than others? Will they all work with my particular laptop?
posted by radioamy at 2:42 PM on September 14, 2011

I have this kensington lock . It works very well.

Definitely do not get a lock with a combination. Not only is it less secure, but it is a pain for you to unlock the lock. The key makes it a lot more convenient!
posted by 47triple2 at 2:54 PM on September 14, 2011

it works very well

Which is not to say it has thwarted a thief. Just that it appears to perform its function and is easy to use.
posted by 47triple2 at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2011

Not to overlook the obvious, but be sure you're leashing your laptop to the right place. I have seen a lot of laptops leashed to the leg of a table, which is ridiculous, given how easily and quickly you can pick up the corner of a table.
posted by ErikaB at 3:06 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just about anything advertised as a laptop security device will fit "Kensington" slots. I have never encountered anything that wasn't compatible. Sometimes they'll come with a plastic washer to make the fit tighter but doesn't really make a real difference.

Decide whether you're less inconvenienced by a key or remembering/dialing a combination.

We used to leave our laptops at the lab, locked. Mine was a magnesium alloy chasis with a steel plate around the Kensington slot. Fucking crackheads still managed to snap the lock out - vastly reducing the resale value of the laptop but I was still out a computer. They did the same to a similarly locked up couple of macs, an Acer, and a few of other laptops. They also shattered a rolling under-table cabinet to get at the laptop locked inside it.

During the day, unless there's no-one around other than random delivery/trades/lost people, any lock will deter them. Even if no-one is around, a lock a is a decent deterrent. Do MBs have docking stations (I've never seen one) - I actually feel quite good about having a Kensington on my Thinkpad's dock, which has a key that locks the laptop into the dock.

Just don't leave the laptop overnight. Which is when the laptop sweep happened; they somehow came through a non-carded security door and swept through the centre. I suspect an inside job.
posted by porpoise at 7:26 PM on September 14, 2011

cylinder key>straight key>combination

Are the cylinder key locks not plagued by the same open-any-lock-with-a-Bic-pen problem that plagued Kryptonite?

posted by blueberry at 8:06 PM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: If you're in an office, consider a locked drawer. Less temptation.
posted by theora55 at 10:03 PM on September 14, 2011

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