Protect your investment – your laptop / notebook / netbook

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The following may be obvious and well worn advice. But often times it is ignored and so it is worth repeating. You bought your new or refurbished laptop / notebook and is happy or proud to start using it or can’t wait to show it to your friends. But wait. Before you proceed further, give some thought to the following.

Warranty and after sales service

Keep your receipt and warranty certificate in a safe location. Also keep the box and foam packaging that the laptop came in somewhere safe. You may need the box and related foam to send the laptop back to the retailer / dealer or manufacturer under warranty. Assuming that you are not happy with it for whatever reason, see if you can return it without any penalty If there is any restocking fees (some vendors charge this amount if you intend to return it when there is no fault or any performance isssue) find out how much it is and consider if it is still worth returning.

Also under the warranty terms look carefully if this is a local warranty or international (travelers) warranty. If it is covered under local warranty only, (as the name implies) there may not be any warranty outside the country from where it is bought.

See who provides the warranty, do you turn in your laptop to the retailer from where you bought or is it your responsibility to ship the laptop to the service depot of the manufacturer. If you are shipping, who bears the shipping costs?

Normally the user bears the cost one way and the return shipping after repair is free from the service center.

If the retailer bears the responsibility of service after sales it is highly recommended that you buy from the retailer. His / her price may not be competitive from any on-line stores or discount.
But the extra cost may be worth considering the unnecessary hassles that you have to go through in talking to a service representative over phone or worse registering a complaint on-line, waiting for an approval for shipment.

Normally the retailer who accepts responsibility for any service after sales, may have an in house service center which can fix your laptop with out voiding the warranty terms of the manufacturer. In this case the turn around time can be much shorter. You can be back to work with your fixed laptop in just a day or two.

Imagine even if there is a two week delay in getting back your laptop, it would be frustrating. Especially if you’re a busy person and all your business is done with your laptop.

Protect your data

It cannot be stressed enough to backup all your data (like word, spreadsheet files, photos, emails, videos, any downloaded software that you have paid for and is very much required for your day-to-day work) either to a separate partition on the single hard drive provided by the manufacturer or preferably to an external storage device (external hard disk drives) or to any online storage facility that you trust.

But please backup as often as you can. It will provide you great peace of mind. Guaranteed.

Even if you are unlucky enough to lose your laptop, at least all your valuable data is safe with you.

In the unfortunate incident, that your new or refurbished laptop / notebook crashes within the warranty period either

  • due to hard drive failure,
  • virus attack,
  • accidentally dropped,
  • any other malfunction that prevents the continued use of the laptop,

it will be with great ease that you can get back to normalcy.

Because you can tell the service technician where all the data is backed up and it won’t cost a fortune to restore from that location.

Also manufacturer’s service depots won’t take any responsibility for any lost data. More likely they will restore it to pristine factory default settings. That means you have a clean state to start all over again.

But anyone who fails to backup the data and there is a mechanical / electronic failure in the hard drive that makes it unaccessible, you may have to send it to data recovery centers for retrieval of lost data. Data recovery centers may or may not be able to recover the data.

If the data is recoverable, it will definitely cost more than the laptop itself or if it is not recoverable imagine the mental turmoil that you may have to go through. Plus you may have to redo the entire process just to get back to where you where. You cannot put a price on the lost time and opportunity.

Password protection

If your laptop came with fingerprint reader, you are in luck. At least you don’t have to remember your password to log into your operating system. You just have to move your finger over the reader and you are in.

Or some laptops comes with face recognition software and built-in web cam which will allow you to log in just by looking at your face. Just show your face and you are in.

But those who want additional security look closely at the specifications of the laptop that you have just bought. It may provide (most models of ACER laptops do) additional levels of security like using passwords for BIOS, user, supervisor and for the hard disk drive.

Use some or all of them depending on the sensitivity of your data. But please do remember the passwords or write it down for safe keeping.

Password protect your documents

You may also want to protect each individual document with password.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You may have your completed assignment or project that you are still working on, that you don’t want other to see and copy. Remember universities penalize both who copy and those who let others copy their original work.
  • Or you may be in an HR department of small company. And you may have salary information / time sheet of all the employees on a database or spreadsheet that you may want to protect very dearly from all prying eyes.
  • Or you may have saved all the details of your investments in a spreadsheet that definitely you don’t want others to see.

To prevent others from either intentionally or accidentally opening such files, it is best to password protect them.

But how do you remember all the passwords and worse how to remember which one to use where?

My suggestion:

You can have one spreadsheet document password protected with a master password that lists the username and password for all the web sites you visit frequently as a registered user and for all the sensitive documents that you need to password protect.

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1.This site gives useful advice in buying the most appropriate laptops that would meet user's needs.
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