Back To School: Technology Prep Checklist

It’s that time of year again, back to school. With class starting soon or already underway there is a lot to think about. Is your technology ready for the new school year? Read on to see how you can prep your tech to take on the new year!

For Your Computer


As you will be need to be connection to public networks as well as searching online for resources for projects, there is no telling what your machine will be exposed to. How can you protect it? Antivirus. If you don’t already have Antivirus on your machine, now would be the time to purchase some or find reputable free versions online(AVG/Commodo/etc). Get it installed and your machine scanned so you know it’s ready to take on your projects without anyone eavesdropping on your activity or stealing your data. Also, your school may have a list of AV providers that are compatible with their network/required software install. So be sure you check that before making any purchases.

In addition to Antivirus, be sure to adjust your browsing habits. Don’t download and run software or media from untrusted sources. This is by far the easiest way to get your machine infected.

Back Up Your Data

You probably made some digital purchases, taken some photos and maybe even created some important files since the last time you backed up your data. You do have a back up right? If not DO IT NOW. As your machine will be exposed to the risk of viruses and be out more in public, the threat of data loss or theft of your device is high! Sign up for an online storage solution or go pick up an external hard drive and start using Windows Back Up or Time Machine.

Clean Up Your Files

Before adding a bunch of new files to your machine, now is the time to organize your current documents, photos, music and videos. If you are afraid of deleting something important you can do your back up first so you can restore any files, else wait until you have only the files you need to save space on your back up device. Getting organized now will save you headache later into the school year when you find yourself unable to quickly find what you need and having to sort through files you should have organized ages ago.

Update Your Machine

Make sure you have your device up to date. Along with Antivirus this helps minimize your risk of bad guys getting access to your machine and its data. Be sure to set Windows Update to run regularly and don’t forget to update your Mac either.

Upgrade and Accessorize

If you are planning any upgrades, you should complete them before things pick up, or hopefully you already have. You don’t want to risk causing problems with your machine when you need it to be as reliable as possible.

Also, if you were looking into any accessories to make your life easier, now is the best time to buy them. Purchase them before you know you will need them so you can maximize their usefulness. Sometimes it’s better to buy things before you need them knowing that it will save you time later. So go ahead, splurge a little and get the items that you think will help you the most in the coming months, just be sure to actually, uh, use them?

Install Required Software

Many Academic campuses have their own list of approved antivirus and other software that is required to be installed. If you can, get these installed before reaching campus. This advice also works for Office software and any other applications you will need for the year. The more things you can complete before you need to, the easier life will be.

Ethernet Cables?!

Most schools require you to use wired internet connections in dorms and you may find Ethernet ports around campus that would be more stable than wifi. So don’t forget to buy or pack one! Maybe even buy two so you can carry one with you. Wireless is great, but you can’t beat the reliability of wired internet when you are working on anything critical.

For Your Phone or Tablet(s)

Most of the advice from above carries over to your phone or tablet. With that, be sure you have your important files and contacts sync’d or backed up. Clean up your files removing anything you don’t need and don’t install any apps you arn’t familiar with. Lastly go to your devices system settings and check for updates. Yes your phone does need to be updated just as much as your Laptop or PC.

Password Protection/Encryption

In addition to these items be sure to password protect your phone. Make it something that’s not easy to guess. If your device is lost or stolen you don’t want them to have access to your data. If you have a phone that isn’t an iPhone, now is the time to look up how to encrypt your phone. Encryption means that even if the bad guys get your phone, without your passcode they can’t read your SD card or hook your phone up to a PC and read whats on it. It’s available under the settings menu in Android, although depending on what version I am sure it may move. So use google and find out where it is and how to enable it. Passcodes can only thwart unsavvy criminals.

Charging Cords

Be sure you have enough cords available to suit your needs. I keep an extra set of cables in my car to charge my phone in case I run out of juice while out. It’s well worth the extra cash to buy a spare set to throw in your backpack or bag. Be sure to get the correct base charger, as although many usb outlet adapters work with most phones, some devices require specific voltages to charge correctly(iPad and I think some Samsung devices require this that I have experienced).

Other Devices

You may also have smart watches, fitness bands or e-readers. Don’t forget to follow the lists above for those too! Ensure they are up to date, back up any data that is important and password protect when possible! Also, don’t forget extra cords if needed. It’s better to have too many cords than be out when you need one the most.

With that you should be ready to take on the new school year. Anything I missed that you want to share with others? Let everyone know in the comments below!

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