What are the 2 most important features when you select a Laptop lock?

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First, a Little background information...

Locks lower risk

Let’s face it, any kind of lock you use in your life, be it a bike lock, door lock or the lock on your car can be defeated if you have enough force, enough tools or a combination of the 2. The choice for selecting any lock in your life is really about risk.   As you increase the strength of the lock, the risk of theft goes down, so you need to decide how much strength is appropriate for your device, your environment and your budget.

How does a thief select a target?

Theft is a crime of opportunity. To minimize the chance of getting caught, a thief will select his target carefully. The key words here are EASY and FAST. They want to grab the goods with little or no effort. (easy) They want to do it in very little time so no one notices. (fast)

The goals of your anti-theft device (in order)

Make your device LOOK difficult to take... If it looks too hard to steal, most thieves won’t try. This is known as “visual deterrence” and it’s just as important as the physical strength of your lock.

Make your device ACTUALLY be difficult to take... If your lock is hard to defeat the thief knows it will take too long, if he can defeat it at all. He is more likely to give up if it’s taking too long or perhaps skip it and look for an easier target.

2 Important Features You Need in a Laptop Lock / Computer Cable lock

1. Cable thickness

Now it’s unlikely that an average thief is strong enough to break even a thin steel cable, so really tools are the question here.  You want a cable that can't be cut by whatever the casual thief has in his pocket.  Here are a couple cable sizes and the tools needed to cut them.

  • 1/8 in. (3mm) cables: Many retractable locks use this size. They are very convenient, but not very secure. These can be cut with a small pair of basic wire cutters or even a folding pocket multi-tool.
  • 5/32 in. (4mm) This is probably the most popular cable size used for laptop locks. They can be cut with good pair of hand held wire cutters in not too much time.
  • 7/32 in. (6mm) Difficult and time consuming to cut without professional grade cable cutting tools.

Conclusion: Choose a lock with a cable that is at least 6mm

2. Size of the Lock Housing

The size of the lock housing is important when a thief tries to defeat the lock by force. This is similar to moving a heavy object with a lever.  A longer lever applies stronger force.

In simple terms, If a thief can apply 50 lbs of force to a 1 in. lock, then that same thief can apply 100 lbs. of force to a 2 in. lock. The longer the lock, the easier it is to remove by force. (see the note below about “security slots”)

Conclusion: Choose a lock with a short housing

About Security Slots

All of these types of locks attach to what is generically called a “security slot” (aka “Kensington Security Slot’) Now, force isn't likely to break the metal lock, but with enough force there is a good chance you cause the security slot to deform and the lock will come out.  So, the strength of the lock depends on the strength of the slot built into the laptop. Some manufacturers put metal plates behind the slot to make them stronger and some do not.

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