10 things you should do before letting users take their laptops out the door

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Executive Summary

Laptops allow users to stay connected and productive when traveling, but they aren't much good if users can't connect to resources they need or if someone walks off with it at the airport. Here are some measures you can take to make the laptop experience as seamless as possible.

Supporting laptop users brings a unique set of challenges, from educating to troubleshooting to ensuring security. IT pro Becky Roberts put together a checklist of steps she likes to follow with her mobile users to make sure they have the equipment they need, they know how to use it, and they know how to protect it. Among her suggestions:

  • Back up all data before that computer leaves the office. It's difficult to develop an infallible backup strategy for mobile devices that does not involve some degree of cooperation from the user. Consider synching with network folders, training the user in the fine art of burning CDs, or copying to jump drives or other type of removable device. In addition to data, give some consideration to what settings, config files, or ini files it may be useful to preserve.

  • Give travelers a pre-trip checklist. Include the things they should do before they leave, items they should take, procedures for making remote connections, and other general advice for traveling with a computer--a hitchhiker's guide to mobile computing.

  • Address power needs. Where is the person going? If he or she is leaving the country, you may want to consider a power plug adapter. There are nine kinds in use around the world. Also, find out whether the destination country uses 110v AC; if not, you may need to supply a step-down transformer.
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