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Laptop Safety Tips

The prices for laptops have begun to decrease, and they are more popular than ever. At UWG we see a marked increase each semester in students who bring their laptop for repair to the SITS office. However, because of the mobility of these machines, their vulnerabilities should be taken into consideration. Not only is a laptop itself more susceptible to damage, but their is more risk for  computers to be compromised and/or stolen.

Physical vulnerabilities  Laptops are very sensitive. Whether you own one or use one that belongs to your company, you should take great care with it. It is not healthy for a laptop to be dropped, shaken or handled roughly. If you work in an environment that requires hard hats you might want to consider the same option for your computer, and purchase a ‘tough book’ which is designed with an extra tough outer shell for protection.

Their are other practices which are easy to learn and important to do as a laptop user. If you know you will not be using your laptop for a while shut it down. Avoid storage in very cold or very hot places. Use compressed air to dust the keyboard. To clean the display use a non-abrasive cloth such as a cotton t-shirt, or micro-fiber cloth. Use only solutions that were recommended in the user manual by the manufacturer. 

In general, overheating is an important problem to avoid. Make it a routine to clean the air vents. Take a quick look to make sure nothing is blocking the vents such as a cup or some paper. 

When purchasing a laptop, you should be aware of the warranty i.e. What does the warranty cover as far as parts, and repair? What it does the warranty not cover, and when does the warranty expire?  Credit card insurance may be a way of coverage you might not think of.  Many cards insure products against damage for the first 30 to 60 days when the purchase was made with that card. 

Security vulnerabilities 

Avoiding laptop theft is a big priority. Whether the device is in your office, or with you ‘on the road’ it is vulnerable to somebody steeling it. Not only is the machine of value to a thief, but also the information that can be retrieved from it. Confidential information should not be sorted on a laptop unless it is encrypted. Do not leave a laptop unattended, near an exterior window, in a car or in other places where it is visible and easily accessible. When traveling, consider ‘hiding’ the laptop (well packaged) in an ordinary piece of luggage rather than a tell-all laptop case.  Never leave a laptop alone in a hotel room, (hotel) meeting room, or dorm room without locking it down with a laptop lock. It is also possible to install a ‘lojack’ which is a device that allows an item to be tracked when stolen.

Be aware of laptop vulnerabilities as well as the information carried in its memory. It is important to treat it well, and to protect it from theft. Your personal information is as important to protect as the information of others that you may hold in your care. Use your laptop or the company’s laptop responsibly!