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Best Laptop Locks & Other Tech Safety Tethers

laptop lockLocking down your computer can ensure that an opportunistic thief doesn’t lift your laptop when you’re not looking. Not all computers are created designed equal, so you’ll need a lock that fits your computer’s brand and model. I’ve tracked down the best locks and tethers for PCs, Macs, and tablets to help you choose the best way to secure your computer.

Kensington K64673AM

I like the K64673AM for its push-button design that allows you to anchor it to a desk or table quickly and easily with one hand. Kensington lets you choose from 10,000 different combinations and includes easy, two-step instructions for resetting your four-wheel combination lock if you forget your combination or simply want to change it up. The cables woven carbon steel and sheathed protective sleeve protect the cable from easy-cutting or fraying, meaning a thief can’t disconnect your laptop without a great deal of effort and drawing attention from others in the room.

  • Works with: K-slot PC, MacBook Pro (pre-Retina display)
  • Locking mechanism: Combination
  • Anchor type: Cable

Sendt Notebook Security Cable

What I like most about the Sendt Notebook security cable is the price. It’s very affordable, at less than $15, and made out of a zinc alloy material instead of heavy woven carbon steel, making it extremely lightweight (only five ounces). The combination lock attaches to the security cable on a hinge so it can pivot freely and be placed almost anywhere without the cable getting in the way. This is a great, inexpensive option for basic device security.

  • Works with: K-slot PC, MacBook Pro (pre-Retina display)
  • Locking mechanism: Combination
  • Anchor type: Cable

Kensington 64068F

If you prefer keys over combinations, you might consider the Kensington 64068F. Instead of a combination, the 64068F uses a unique set of keys that you can register on Kensington’s website, providing Kensington information to return lost keys should someone find them. It comes with a six-foot steel-composite carbon cable and tempered steel T-bar lock, which protect against tampering and cutting. At less than $20, it’s a great choice for college students on a budget or anyone looking for quick, inexpensive security for their device.

  • Works with: K-slot PC, MacBook Pro (pre-Retina)
  • Locking mechanism: Keyed
  • Anchor type: Cable

Kensington Locking Station KMW64625

If you need to lock down your laptop for longer periods of time, like when you’re at the office, a locking station like the KMW64625 could be the way to go. I like that it strikes a good balance between permanent workstation and portable laptop. You can leave your desk and grab some coffee without worrying someone will snatch your laptop, but it’s still easy to disconnect and take with you at the end of the day.

The KMW64625 extends horizontally to accommodate laptops between 13.3 and 17 inches. The dock rotates, slides, and tilts, so you can adjust the placement until it feels comfortable. Because it does not use a K-slot lock, this locking station can be used for any laptop.

  • Works with: Any laptop
  • Locking mechanism: Keyed
  • Anchor type: Dock

Belkin F8E550-CMK

The Belkin F8E550-CMK security lock works great for protecting against a quick snatch-and-grab job. It has a six-foot galvanized steel cable and uses a padlock and eyehole attachment that works with almost any laptop, docking station, or other electronic device.

It’s easily the most affordable of our recommended laptop locks, but we wouldn’t recommend relying on it for long periods of time since the eyehole attachment isn’t strong enough to withstand a truly determined thief with time to tamper. It will, however, keep someone from lifting your laptop while you run to the restroom. For basic security, the Belkin F8E550-CMK is a practical, low-priced option.

  • Works with: Any laptop
  • Locking mechanism: Padlock and key
  • Anchor type: Cable

Maclocks Universal Locking Bracket

Some laptops—like the MacBook Pro Retina, MacBook Air, or any tablet device—don’t have  a K-slot designed into the hardware. Luckily, Mac Locks has an add-on solution for those of us who can’t secure a tether directly to our computer chassis.

The Maclock Blade is a locking bracket that attaches with an extra-strength adhesive to the bottom of your electronic device. A T-bar security slot extends from the bracket with a K-slot security cable attachment and the end of the bar. From there, you simply tether your security cable (which is included) to the T-bar to anchor your device. The BLD01CL has been tested and holds up against 100 pounds of force, making it extremely durable. If your device is devoid of or doesn’t support traditional security slots, the Blade is a great work-around.

  • Works with: PC, MacBook Pro, tablets
  • Locking mechanism: Key or combination
  • Anchor type: Bracket and cable

ChargeTech ATK-1

Another great option for devices devoid of built-in K-slots is the ATK-1 from from ChargeTech. I like that the ATK-1 mounts to any hard surface and is relatively small, so you can use it for tablets or even smartphones. An industrial strength 3M adhesive attaches a K-slot plate to the surface of your device, which then tethers to a cut-resistant, twisted steel cable.

I like that ChargeTech makes this security cable for both key locks and combination locks, so you can choose your preferred locking mechanism. Overall, the ATK-1 is a great solution to temporarily lock down any electronic device.

  • Works with: Any laptop
  • Locking mechanism: Key or combination
  • Anchor type: Mounted K-slot and cable

Kensington MicroSaver K64538US

For something a little more discreet and easy to store when not in use, you can try the MicroSaver retractable laptop lock from Kensington. The cable—made with an inner steel core—is four feet long and is the only lock on our list that retracts by pushing a button on the main handle, making it easy to gather up when you’re on the move. The MicroSaver attaches to any K-slot device using a keyed locking mechanism, and is a great option for securing your device on the go.

  • Works with: K-slot PC, MacBook Pro (pre-Retina display)
  • Locking mechanism: Keyed
  • Anchor type: Cable

Check compatibility

I’ve listed which types of laptop locks work with different types of computers, but keep in mind this is not a universal solution. If I’ve listed a particular lock as PC compatible, I’m referring to the standard K-slot used in the majority of PC laptop hardware. There are occasional exceptions when PC manufacturers did not use K-slots, so double check your particular computer model before you buy a lock for your device.

If you use a laptop or other mobile device in any kind of public setting, you should make sure to lock it down and protect yourself against an opportunistic thief. A couple bucks for a lock could save you the cost of replacing a stolen device later on.

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