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Tips on Technology

Laptop Travel Tips

  • Backup your iImages and important data. Sometimes it’s inevitable that your portable electronic devices will be damaged (especially while traveling). Always back up your data and back up often! This will prevent data loss even if the device itself is destroyed. Although data security and privacy should always be a concern when using an online backup service, they do make sense for people traveling to remote locations. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Protect your devices from extreme climates. If traveling to a location with extreme temperatures, it is best to leave your digital devices safe in a place of mild temperature. Heat, cold and humidity can wreck havoc with digital equipment, especially hard drives and flash memory devices. Pay special attention to the climate of each location you travel. Don’t forget to consider where you are leaving your devices, such as an extremely hot or cold vehicle. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Flood-prone zone? Keep electronic devices off the floor. If your computer hardware is stored near the ground of your location, be sure to move them away from the floor to protect them from possible water damage that could be caused by a flood. It’s easy to neglect electronics stored in your purse or travel bag that you’ve left lying on the floor. Take a moment, and safely store your personal belongings off the ground. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Traveling near water? Waterproof your electronics! DriveSavers recovered data from a Macintosh PowerBook that sank (along with the cruise ship that carried it) in the Amazon River! To protect your electronics from the possibility of water damage, be sure to enclose any valuable devices in Ziploc bags, or place them in a watertight plastic bin or custom waterproof housing while traveling. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Be sure your anti-virus protection, firewall, critical software updates and patches are all up to date before you travel with your laptop.
  • Make a full backup of your system and data. Leave a copy home and carry a copy with you on your person - don't put it in your checked luggage.
  • If there are important or sensitive data files that you will not need while you are away, consider removing them from your laptop (after making sure that you have a backup copy from which to restore them after you return home). Your data can't be stolen if it isn't with you.
  • If you can, keep your data files on a removable device like a USB drive rather than on your laptop hard drive. Keep the USB drive on your person at all times. If your laptop should disappear, at least your data will be safe.
  • If you are technically savvy, you may want to consider removing your hard drive and carrying it separately from the computer. If the computer is stolen, your software and files won't go with it.
  • Be sure to make a record of your laptop model and serial number and leave a copy at home and put one in your wallet. If you are traveling out of the US you may want to take along a copy of your sales receipt from the time of purchase to prove ownership. Otherwise there could be a question at Customs as to whether you purchased the computer while you were traveling and, therefore, owe Duty tax.
  • Etch your name and/or some other kind of identifying information onto the case to make it more difficult to resell if stolen.
  • Register your laptop with the manufacturer. If an unauthorized person ever contacts the manufacturer for service, the registration information may bring their ownership into question.
  • Set a strong BIOS password that must be entered for the computer to boot up. The procedure to set a power on password varies among computer types so refer to your hardware manual or contact the manufacturer's support desk or other computer consultant. A strong password is at least 7 characters long and contains both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols. Don't forget your password! If you write it down be sure you don't keep it with the laptop. Check with the hardware manufacturer to see what their policy is for resetting a forgotten password. It should involve returning the computer to the manufacturer to have it reset so that the system is only returned to the registered owner.
  • You may also want to save your documents specifying a password that must be entered before they can be opened (in MS Office applications, look in Tools/Options/Security tab). There are also third party encryption software programs that can be used to protect your data files.
  • Be sure your battery is fully charged if you are traveling by air. You will probably be required to boot up the computer at the boarding security station and a fully charged battery will speed the process.
  • Don't carry your computer in a typical case that announces "computer inside".
  • You may want to purchase a security cable to lock down the computer to a table or other fixed object while you are using it in public or leaving it in your hotel room (although putting in the room safe may be a better idea). Many laptops have a Universal Security Slot to accommodate the use of security devices.
  • In some cases it may be worth investing in asset tracking software and monitoring. Briefly, if the laptop is stolen and used to access the Internet, the software provides a way for the monitoring company to track its location.
  • Always keep your laptop with you and in sight. Don't put it in your checked luggage or on a luggage cart. Don't put it down and walk away, even for a moment.
  • You may want to ask airport security to do a hand inspection of your laptop rather than sending it down the conveyor belt through the x-ray machine. The x-rays won't damage your disk or data, but if you are delayed in picking up your hand luggage from the conveyor, someone else could be picking up your laptop.
  • Be sure you don't carry anything that will set off the metal detector. While the security staff are distracted by checking out the situation, you and they may not notice someone else picking up your laptop as it rolls down the conveyor belt.
  • If you are using your computer while sitting in a waiting area, hotel lobby, in flight, etc., be aware that others near you could be looking over your shoulder at your screen. You don't want your sensitive information to become casual reading for someone else - you never know if they work for your competitors!
  • Hours spent locked in a hot car (or a cold one in winter) can damage your laptop and storage devices.
  • Don't leave your laptop unsecured in your hotel room when you are out. Use your security cable or lock it in the room safe. While the hotel staff may be trustworthy, there's no reason to take chances should someone gain unauthorized access to your room.
  • Cell Phone Travel Tips

  • Traveling near water? Waterproof your electronics! DriveSavers recovered data from a Macintosh PowerBook that sank (along with the cruise ship that carried it) in the Amazon River! To protect your electronics from the possibility of water damage, be sure to enclose any valuable devices in Ziploc bags, or place them in a watertight plastic bin or custom waterproof housing while traveling. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Rescue personnel are asking individuals to program a new contact into their cell phone with the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) followed by the name and phone number of their emergency contact. This individual should agree to be the ICE contact. The ICE contact should know, or know where to find, the individualís family contacts, primary physician and any medical history. (Medical information should list allergies, current medication(s) and previous medical procedures.)
  • Most hotel keys are now key cards that donít have the room number on them. If you have a hard time remembering your room number, use your camera phone to snap a picture of your room number.
  • Tired of forgetting where you parked your car? Use your camera phone to take a photo of your parking lot designation.
  • You can use your cell phone display as a small flashlight in a pinch.
  • Use your cell phoneís alarm clock as a back up for your wake-up call.
  • Make sure to program in destination numbers (airline, hotel, car rental company) before you go. If you have to contact any of these, you will have their numbers at your fingertip. Also program in the number of alternate airlines, hotels or car rental companies. If you are delayed and cannot keep to your original itinerary, or if you find yourself in an oversold situation, you will be able to quickly rebook with another company.
  • Digital Camera Travel Tips

  • Protect your flash memory card when being active. Always store digital camera cards in their original plastic cases when carrying them around on your trip. Simple static buildup can zap the card and make it unreadable. There are other dangers as well, such as breaking a card in your pocket or putting it in the wash along with your clothing. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.
  • Protect your devices from extreme climates. If traveling to a location with extreme temperatures, it is best to leave your digital devices safe in a place of mild temperature. Heat, cold and humidity can wreck havoc with digital equipment, especially hard drives and flash memory devices. Pay special attention to the climate of each location you travel. Don’t forget to consider where you are leaving your devices, such as an extremely hot or cold vehicle. Tip courtesy of DriveSavers.