Regardless of whether you've just bought a loved one a new laptop for the upcoming holidays or got one for yourself, you may want to invest in some precautionary measures. Laptops are expensive, and unfortunately, one downside to their sleeker, thinner designs these days is that it makes them even easier for people to steal.

The number one thing you must do is set up a password that restricts access to your computer. Make your password difficult (note: "password123" does not fall under the category of "difficult"), incorporating numbers, capitalization and punctuation, if possible. If you think you'll forget it, write it down and keep it somewhere safe. But, having strong password protection isn't enough. It may prevent someone from gaining access right away, but for many hackers, cracking passwords is easier than solving a morning sudoku.

One of the most effective ways to keep your laptop safe is to install software that tracks its whereabouts. You'll have to purchase the software, but it's usually pretty inexpensive (under $50), particularly if it's for a personal account. Buying this software will not only allow you and the police to locate the computer, but tracking software can also automatically delete your hard drive to protect your personal files, lock your computer or sound an alarm. Some can even take a picture of the perp using the computer's webcam – how CSI is that?

If you've recovered your laptop after it was stolen and think it may need computer repair or virus removal, you may want to take it to a local Virginia computer repair center and have them check it out, just in case.