Education

Protect your tech at Uni

Look, no-one’s saying you’re going to have wild parties every night in your student flat and that everything you own is going to get repeatedly trashed – but it really is a good idea to think about ways to protect your uni tech. You’ll be very busy during your time at uni – out and about – and so your gear is definitely going to get some hammer at some point.

If you’re looking for tech which is almost ridiculously rugged – let’s say you’re a construction or engineering student who will be out on site quite a bit – then it’s worth taking in our guide to rugged tech, here. But for everyone else there are simpler options, including laptop bags. We’ll make a couple of suggestions of decent ones to look at.

But first of all, let’s think not just of your uni tech, but of what you have on it. You’re going to need to protect that too. So…

Encrypt!: You can pretend you’re a spy when you use an encrypted USB drive. Everyone needs a memory stick, it’s the perfect way to move files and documents between devices, or share larger content files such as video or design. USB sticks are also perfect for backing up your work, protecting you from accidental deletion, or losing work if your main device is stolen or lost. Encrypted USBs (and other external storage devices) offer an extra layer of that protection – and you can read about them here.

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Okay, let’s list a few things you can do to keep your uni tech safe and secure, and protected from the rigours of life on and off campus…

Marking: It’s worth buying a UV pen so that you can mark up your gear. Simply write your initials and postcode somewhere discreet on your laptop, TV, tablet, smartphone, gaming console, whatever. This writing can’t be seen with naked human eye but when ultraviolet light is shone on it (hopefully by the Police who have been looking for it on your behalf), bingo! Your initials and postcode will appear as if by magic. Very handy if you should fall unfortunate victim to theft.

Lock up!:  These days most smartphones offer some sort of ID system before access to the operating system is granted. This could mean fingerprint, retina or face recognition – but if your phone doesn’t have any of these features you should still be able to set up a password / passcode. It won’t mean your ‘phone is impenetrable, but it’s an extra layer of protection and could mean you have a little more time to block or deactivate your phone with your network provider.

Smart doorbell: A relatively inexpensive way to give yourself (and your housemates) some protection is to install a smart video doorbell. It means you’ll be able to field callers to your property, but also have a video record of any activity around it. Very handy if someone tries to break in.

Register your tech: One of the simplest things you can do when you have a new piece of tech, or have taken an old piece of tech to uni with you, is to register it with www.immobilise.com. This is a free UK property register, and can assist the police with tracing your property if you are unfortunate enough to have it stolen.

App up!: If you have an iPhone then you also have access to Find My iPhone, which allows you to track your device and / or remotely erase sensitive data from it, if your phone is stolen or lost. If you have an Android phone then Android Device Manager can fulfil a similar function.

Insurance:  It may seem like an unnecessary large outlay, or a month-to-month expense you don’t really want to have to cover, but getting your stuff insured is a smart way to ensure that you’re at least no worse off if it is stolen. Insurance these days is not that expensive. Trust us, it’s a few quid well spent – less hassle than going back to Mum and Dad and asking for them for a handout to buy a replacement laptop, smartphone or TV!

In some circumstances, it may be possible to be covered under your parents’ home contents insurance policy – but you must not take this for granted, and should ask them to check the fine print of their policy documents to make sure.

Beware home cover: While you may be able to piggyback on your parents’ home contents insurance policy as some offer a certain amount of protection for family members away from home, always check the policy details to make sure you have the cover you require.

There may be single item value limits that may not cover high end mobiles or laptops. If you make a claim the excess may be higher than a standalone policy, and it could affect your parents’ no claims bonus, which could bump up their future premiums. Not so great.

And here’s the big one:

Manage risk: It is, of course, brilliant to be ‘away from home’ for possibly the first time. Taking strides into the adult world and living a life that is more free than you could possibly have imagined. However, you should guard against carelessness and over-confidence. If you’re likely to go on a big night out, leave your tech at home or at the very least in a safe place under lock-and-key at university.

If you’ve had a few drinks then you’re likely to be slightly more relaxed and less aware than you otherwise might be – so you should make the effort to keep track of your smartphone. Don’t leave it on tables in clubs, pubs or restaurants. Make sure you keep it in a trouser pocket or in your handbag.

Those are our key tips for keeping your tech safe while you’re away at university. But, before we go, there’s another sort of safety we’d like to briefly address. The safety of your devices from accidental damage. Let’s think about laptops…

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Laptop bags

It seems such an obvious one, doesn’t it? You’re hardly likely to travel to lectures from your digs with your laptop cradled in your arms, or stuffed into a supermarket carrier bag, so you’re going to need to buy something appropriate to transport this important piece of kit. A decent laptop bag really is a must – but not just for transport. You can use it for storage at your digs. A good bag will actually protect your device from all of the bumps and scrapes it’d otherwise pick up in general use.

Here at Ebuyer we stock an array of laptop bags, but one of our favourites is this one: the Targus CityGear. It’s a toploading ‘briefcase’ style case for laptops between 15” and 17.3″ – so, because most laptops these days come in that bracket of screen size, that should be enough space to hold yours.

The CityGear features plenty of additional space for those all-important accessories, but it still maintains a slim overall profile designed to fit in overhead compartments or beneath the seat – particularly useful if you’re travelling between home and uni. It has grab and go handles, padded shoulder straps and trolley straps to keep you comfortable when you’re on the move.

The built-in Dome Protection System protects your tech with shock-absorbing layers integrated into the bag, which dissipate pressure and protect your laptop, tablet and other devices safely stored inside.

If you’re looking for something you can strap to your back instead of a briefcase style laptop case, then a really good budget-level bag is the Targus Geolite Essential 15.6″ Backpack. It blends protection, comfort and affordability, all in one simple good-looking case.

There is ample storage capacity with convenient top access, and within you’ll find a padded laptop compartment. Your laptop will stay protected in a padded, suspended compartment, which means plenty of room for your other bits and pieces. Shoulder straps are adjustable and there is a front zippered pocket. This backpack is perfect for the day-to-day city-hopping of university life.

That’s it, for now! Read more on uni tech, and good luck from Ebuyer to everyone heading ‘back to school‘!

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