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Summary:

For many web workers, the most expensive piece of gear is the laptop computer. For some of us, it’s even more than expensive: it’s essential, because it’s our only computer. But have you ever thought about how you’re protecting that investment? Here’s a rundown on the […]

For many web workers, the most expensive piece of gear is the laptop computer. For some of us, it’s even more than expensive: it’s essential, because it’s our only computer. But have you ever thought about how you’re protecting that investment? Here’s a rundown on the ways you can keep your laptop a bit safer.

Buy a Ruggedized Model. Some laptops are simply more resistant to physical damage than others. If you’re doing to do a great deal of travel, especially if you have a tendency towards klutziness, it’s worth looking into “ruggedized” or “semi-ruggedized” models. At the top of the sturdiness line you’ll find machines, like the Dell XFR D630, that comply with Department of Defense standards – they’re designed to be used in rough conditions and dropped without losing function. You’ll pay a premium if you go this route, though. At the very least, look for a computer (such as a MacBook) with an accelerometer built in to park the hard drive if you drop it.

Get a Decent Bag – However rugged your computer, I wouldn’t recommend dropping it with wild abandon. But eventually you will drop it – and you’ll likely be better off if it’s in a decently-padded bag. We’ve looked at choosing the perfect bag before – from the standpoint of investment protection, just remember that you want to prioritize “sturdy” over “stylish.”

Buy the Warranty – No, really. While I skip extended warranties for most of my electronics, I make an exception for laptops; they’re too essential to my working life. Just remember two things. First, the warranty likely won’t cover some of the most blatant things you can do to break a laptop. Second, having the company repair or replace a laptop is small consolation if you can’t get to your precious data in the meantime. You must have a decent backup strategy.

Cover it with Insurance – Having your laptop insured won’t keep it running, but it can make it easier to replace. You need to talk to your insurance agent on this one: establish whether your laptop is covered on your home or business policy, and set a sensible deductible. Then remember to review this coverage when you change laptops.

What do you do to protect your traveling gear?

  1. I don’t bother with extended warranty for my laptop. Warranty made some sense when laptops cost $2000+, but nowadays the price dropped down so much, I just get a cheaper one and use it for a year and replace it. (and sell the old one at eBay) Typically laptops come with 1 year warranty (and you can extend it to 2 years for free by using some credit cards), so no need for extended warranty there. Also when I buy cheaper ones, insurance isn’t that needed either. I just make sure to protect my data by making frequent and redundant backups.

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  2. Agree with Ignar’s comments. I use a laptop as a secondary machine – for conferences, meetings, and traveling. My desktop is where everything lives. So a $1000 laptop does the job. And it’s simply not worth the extended warranty or insurance cost on a $1000.

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  3. Are laptop locks a good idea? I’ve been worried about someone walking off with mine (the office is in a reasonably public space). Can you recommend any locks?

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  4. For my company I had to test laptop locks. The lock are good but the cables on the other hand…. With a $20 bolt cutter from Lowes which fit very well in pants pocket. It takes on average 3 seconds to cut the larger 3/8″ security cables. From the work I did, I would never leave my notebook with any of these locks. So at Starbucks, it goes to the bathroom with me.

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  5. I get Applecare for any laptop I buy, and it usually ends up paying for itself handily.

    I also put Undercover by Orbicule onto each laptop for remote theft recovery, which I’ve not yet had to use, thankfully and knocking on wood :)

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  6. A clear skin is a great always-on shield against scratches and dings. Keep the case looking new which you want if you plan on reselling.

    I have the Best Skins Ever full wrap on my Macbook Pro. They carry pre-cut skins for Apples. Gives a nice grippy surface to the aluminum MBPs. Not sure if anyone has pre-cuts for other brands.

    http://www.bestskinsever.com/

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  7. In general, laptop skins have good scratch resistance qualities making them ideal for protecting our laptop from fresh scratches.

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  8. Visa also offers extended warranty protection for free for up to 5 years for holders of platinum Visa cards.

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