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Best Practices For Using Your Laptop At The Coffee Shop

One of the best things about having a laptop is your ability to travel with it. Whether it be to the airport or the local coffee shop, it has become easier than ever to browse the internet, write the next great novel, or do that all important homework assignment while mobile. But there are many dangers to the mobile experience. What if you’re at that local coffee shop and someone knocks your cup of tea over? Or if you need to use the bathroom but are in the middle of something, what do you do with your laptop? What about your data? Is it secure?

Most computers have software already installed to protect your data. Make sure to use firewalls while browsing in unknown areas to block unwanted connections. With Macs, all you have to do is go to your Security options in your System Preferences and edit your firewire setting. With Windows PCs, just search your Control Panel for your Windows Firewall. You may also want to unshare any shared folders on your laptop in order to further protect your data when on an open network connection. In fact, many Mac users unwittingly have their iTunes libraries (and more) publicly accessible, so make sure to check what's in your shared folder and your iTunes settings!

Also, you should try to visit sites with HTTPS or SSL enabled, which means your connection is secure and protected. Most webmail providers such as Google or Yahoo offer this option. One can add the 's' to the http:// in the URL in order to attempt this type of connection, or we recommend enabling the HTTPS Everywhere plugin/extension in Chrome or Firefox to do this automatically.

If you’re concerned with your laptop itself in addition to the data on it, you can always lock it up with an actual lock! It may seem old school, but a physical lock is a simple and easy way to protect your valuables. Laptop locks are a fairly inexpensive way to secure your electronics while in public. They allow you to stretch your legs every once in awhile instead of having to take your laptop to the bathroom. (Because who hasn’t done that once or twice?) There are some nice ones currently available at both our Northampton and Amherst locations.

And last, but certainly not least: Back-up your data! If anything were to go awry, whether it be a virus or a cup of coffee, having a back up can be a lifesaver. We here at left-click recommend that you backup your data as often as possible in case of accident or hard drive failure. In a worse case scenario, having that back up will prevent you from possibly losing your data forever. In certain cases of hard drive failure, data recovery is possible. A diagnostic at left-click will help us determine if that is a option for your damaged machine.