There’s an ADT Alarm System commercial that is airing right now on TV, and they say that because the computer was not stolen the precious data on it is still safe.
That’s not a good message to be putting out there, because you want to NOT care about your data if your laptop is lost or stolen. It’s funny how so many people perceive the safety of data stored on a computer or iPhone. It’s almost like it’s part of the device, but it’s really something else entirely. No matter the computer (laptop, desktop, iPhone, or iPad) the data ALWAYS needs to be in two places at the very minimum. Ideally, your data should be backed up at your location, but ALSO off-site. See our Blog post on the “Golden Triangle” of data protection.
Also, if someone DOES steal your laptop, you ideally want to have the ability to erase the data on it remotely or at least “lock” it so the data is not accessible to the thief. The password on a Mac can be easily be reset, so consider using File Vault in OS X 10.7 and 10.8. That way the data is encrypted and that level of file protection cannot be broken.
See Lojack for Laptops.
Also, I always tell people that you really do need to plan ahead for possible theft. If someone breaks in to your home or your office with the intent to steal stuff, there’s a good chance that they will steal your backup drive too. This is why I always tell people that they ALSO need an off-site backup.
Having an alarm system is a must, but even with an alarm system thieves can still make off with your stuff.
Another tip is to use a Time Capsule. While NOT an off-site backup, the Time Capsule is usually not right next to your computer, so if someone makes off with your computer and obvious valuables, they are less likely to find by chance or locate your Time Capsule.