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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Traveling with Your Tech

By Jean Parks

Summer vacations are in high gear for many families and an increasing numbers of smartphones, tablets and notebooks are traveling right along with us. But taking our devices on the road can lead to accidents and a variety of unexpected mishaps. Taking a few simple steps to ensure your mobile devices and data are safe could save you considerable grief and a lot of money!

Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare your tech for a trip. (And be sure to include the kids into the discussion!)

1. Bring Only the Tech You Need -  Does everyone in the family really need to lug along their primary notebook or laptop? Consider leaving the expensive systems at home and bringing a net book or tablet instead.

2. Back Up Your Data – Run a full back up of all the data on all your devices before you leave the house.

3. Choose the Right Bag – A good bag should be well constructed with ample padding and comfortable straps. If you are flying, look for an airport-friendly model that will get you through security easily. Consider a messenger-style bag that you can carry cross body instead of slung over your shoulder. You might wish to look into bag options offered by PacSafe, which are constructed to deter would be thieves and offer you the ability to lock your entire bag to a piece of furniture.

4. The Tech Rides With You – Small Children dragging laptop bags or swinging iPads around are attractive targets for thieves! Parents should carry devices for their younger children; older kids and teens  can carry their own bags if they’ve been educated to do so safely. Do not place your electronics in checked baggage on a plane, train or bus. Hold onto your tech until the last minute when going through airport security, so that they won’t be sitting alone, unprotected on the other side of the scanner.

5. Label Your Devices – Place labels with your name, address and contact info on all your electronics. You might also wish to consider ordering the STOP Security Plate, which provides affordable, physical protection for all of your family electronics. Labeling will help you quickly spot your devices while going through security checkpoints.

6. It’s In The Bag! – Many families will be sharing rooms on vacation. Don’t tempt fate – prevent accidental spills and drops! Teach kids that when they are finished using a device it should be closed and put back in its bag.

7. Invest in Laptop Recovery Tools – Installing theft recovery software on your device can greatly increase your chances of getting it back if it is lost or stolen. LoJack for Laptops provides coverage for both PCs and Macs. GadgetTrak provides protection for PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android devices & BlackBerry smartphones.

8. Password Protect Your Devices – Don’t use common names, birth dates or addresses. If you are using a software recovery program, you will want to set up a guest account that does NOT require a password if your device is stolen. You want the thief to be able to use the device so it can be tracked. A guest account will also allow your other family members to share your computer rather than dragging along their own.

9. Look into Insurance – Insurance options can be limited but check with your credit card company, home owners or rental insurance polices to see what coverage you have or if a rider can be added.

10. Remember Basic Online Safety Rules! – Make sure your anti-virus/security software is installed, configured and up-to-date before you leave. Microsoft Security Essentials is FREE and will protect that precious laptop or Ultrabook.

  • Don’t log onto unsecured wireless networks. If a password isn’t required to log on, the network isn’t secure.
  • Avoid accessing bank and other fiscal information, particularly on unsecured wireless networks.
  • Make sure to deselect “Remember Me” while browsing the web on other people’s computers or devices.
  • Clear history and cache after using public or borrowed devices. This is where having a guest account can come in handy – your friend can use your computer to check her email/web site.

Following a few basic safety rules can allow us to relax and enjoy the full benefits of using mobile technology to help us stay connected wherever  we may travel this summer!

Are you in need of mobile computing solutions? Exploring affordable, fast computing devices for your family? ASUS provides an amazing array of Intel powered Desktop PCs, ZenBooks, notebooks, tablets and more! Check out the fabulous world of ASUS on the ASUS North America Facebook Page.

The Online Mom receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for ASUS International. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own. JP

Jean Parks, aka Geekbabe, is a contributing editor for The Online Mom. Follow Jean on Twitter.

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