Friday, June 10, 2011

Laptop 101: What To Know Before Studying Abroad

Bring a laptop! Your laptop is one of the most important pieces of technology that you will use while abroad. You’ll take notes, maybe even exams on your laptop. You’ll use it to study and keep up with family and friends back home. And don’t forget keeping up with your favorite shows from back home, reading, defeating boredom in class, and the most important… FACEBOOK!

Back up everything on an external hard-drive. It is a good idea to back up your entire computer on an external hard-drive ( $50-100), especially if you have lot of pictures, documents, class notes, etc. that you don’t want to lose. That way if you contract a virus while abroad, everything will not be lost.

Update Your Anti-Virus Software. Make sure all the protection on your computer is up-to-date, that way, you lessen your risk of contracting a computer virus that ultimately crashes your laptop. Also, it’s best to avoid shady websites and emails with unknown senders. But just in case, you already have everything backed up on your external hard-drive, right?!

Make sure your laptop is in overall good health. If your laptop isn’t brand new, and I’m assuming that it isn’t, you should fix any problems you already have before going abroad, where it will be difficult to communicate to a computer technician your computer problems. (Problems to look out for: broken fan, constant overheating, battery that loses charge easily, and problems recharging your laptop.)

Bring a fully functional charger (+ adapter). Having a fully functional (healthy!) laptop is useless if your charger is less than adequate. Also, it’s important to have an adapter so that your plug will fit into the outlet, not to be confused with a converter, which regulates electrical current. Most laptops and other electronics don’t need converters, check with your computer company to be sure.

·Have a back-up plan. Even if you’ve taken all the precautions, still bad things happen. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan. The following are some examples:
  Have enough money in reserve to buy another computer, or replace parts. A cheap option is to buy a Netbook, which is a smaller laptop with less memory. (, €259)
· Know the contact information of your computer company.
· Check if your computer company has a system to fix your computer from a distance. If so, sign up for it.
· Brush up on computer terminology in your host language just in case you need to talk to a computer technician.

True Life: I decided to write this article upon discovering one of my American friends came to Spain knowing his laptop was close to death and suffered lots of problems here because of it. My roommate’s laptop crashed 3 months into her stay after getting a computer virus from a shady website and had to buy a new computer. She chose a Netbook because it was cheaper and served the same purpose.

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