You Need to Inventory Your Stuff

Table of Contents

The Importance of the Serial Number

Nearly all elecronic devices you buy today will contain a serial number somewhere on the device, usually somewhere on the back of the device. Keeping track of this number serves several purposes:

Keep Track of Everything That Can Be Tracked

Take a look at all of your electronics: your laptops, your phones, your tablets, your gaming consoles, your cameras, your mp3 players (if you still have one of those), even your OS and software license keys. If they are of value to you, make a list of them.

A license key for software can serve the same purpose as a serial number does for hardware. Hold onto it in case you ever need to reinstall the software on another computer.

Write The Serial Numbers Down

Make a file in Notepad/Excel/Evernote/Dropbox/wherever where you write down each of the following for all of your important and/or expensive devices:


Device Make Serial Number
Laptop Toshiba Satellite S55-C5274 YYYY-YYYY-YYYY-YYYY
iPhone 4S - Unlocked A52137189

Take Pictures of Your Device

If your device is stolen, the only way to definitively prove that the item for sale on Craigslist is yours is if you can present a picture of it and its serial number. Take pictures of the device itself (so that you do not attempt to claim someone has stolen your laptop using the serial number of a toaster), and take a good-quality photograph of the serial number on the back of the device. Keep these photos with the other documentation on the device, and keep them both somewhere safe. It just might make the difference between the police helping you retrieve your camera or not.

It is probably best not to keep proof of the device's ownership on the device itself, lest your device's thief use those same documents to then content ownership.