Why you need a personal laptop

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Keeping work and life on one device puts your privacy at risk

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This is a decision that may seem like a no-brainer. You’ve got a new job, and they’ve given you a brand new ThinkPad. ExcellentThink for yourself. Now it’s time for me to get rid of it 10 year old macbook air.


I went there. surveys have revealed That more than half of workers use work-continuing devices for personal tasks – whether sending personal messages, shopping online, accessing social media, or reading the news. The prospect of using your work laptop as your only laptop—not only for work, but also for Netflixing, group chat messaging, reading fanfiction, paying bills, and emailing recipes to your mom—is especially It is attractive for people working from home. . Keeping work tasks and personal tasks in one place may seem like an easy way to simplify your life, and it can save space on your desk. Above all, it may seem like a good cost-saving measure.

But I’m here to be the bearer of bad news: Don’t do it. Please, I’m begging you, don’t do it.

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Here’s a good, affordable alternative to a personal laptop: HP’s Pavilion Aero 13.

The most important thing to remember is that if you are using a work laptop, you must assume that IT can see what you are doing. companies have all kinds of equipment Available to monitor your employees’ devices – keyloggers, biometric tracking, geolocation, software that tracks web browsing and social media behavior. more than half use some sort of surveillance technology, and have access to them become more popular throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, of course, your company can see what you’re doing in company-run programs like Slack and G-Suite Enterprise. Your novel are you writing at night? Your Slack messages to your coworkers complaining about your boss? IT CAN SEE ALL THAT. Even if you have separate personal accounts for these services, you’re more likely to mix them up if you’re both logged on to the same computer.

“If you’re on a work laptop, you should assume that your IT can see everything,” says Ryan Twohill, who has worked in IT for 20 years and is currently CTO of Aura, a digital security firm. “It’s the company’s laptop. They own it. It’s enrolled in a corporate IT product where they’re going to be able to track where you go on the Internet.” Tohill stresses that not all IT departments are regularly searching their employees’ Web histories — but there’s always a risk they could.

It’s not just your activity that your coworkers can see – they can access anything you download. Loading a few personal photos or text messages onto your work device for safekeeping may seem harmless – you’ll just erase them before you hand it over, right? But some companies (such as Apple) won’t actually allow you to wipe your device before handing it over, no matter how personal the content. Even if your employer does not have such a policy, there is still the possibility that you could be fired or fired at short notice, or your company could collapse without warning.

In these cases, you May Your laptop has time to delete personal files before you turn it on, but depending on the circumstances of your termination, you may be excluded from it before you even have a chance. “In most companies, the moment you are let go, it usually kicks off an automated process that disables your access,” Tohill says.

Even if you leave your company with a lot of notice, moving a bunch of things from your work equipment during the last few days of your tenure can raise a few eyebrows with IT – Which remember, you can see everything you’re doing on that device. “Let’s say you’re going to work for a competitor,” Tohil says. “They’re about to go through that huge audit trail, look, wow, you moved a bunch of data out of this laptop the week before you left. And that opens up a huge liability for you personally. At least, You’re going to spend some time explaining what you were doing. Worst case scenario, you took some corporate information.”

Framework laptop open from outside on a red tablecloth visible from above.  The screen displays a mountainous landscape.

Here’s another option to consider: Framework Laptop, which lets you customize your ports and upgrade the processor.

And if things go wrong, the list of embarrassing possibilities is endless: Are you sure you want to be? this woman, who received a text message about defecating on his computer while sharing his screen with officers? Or this employeeWho accidentally posted fetish porn in a company-wide group chat? Or this manWho invited his current boss to attend a job interview on Zoom? If you’re mixing work and pleasure on one device, just one wrong email attachment or one wrong copy/paste can lead to scenarios that are not only embarrassing but can damage your relationships with coworkers. Even your job can be put at risk.

I know that using your work laptop as a personal laptop can seem like a reasonable cost-saving measure, especially if you are one of the 51 percent of US workers who work from home at least some of the time. But here’s the good news: A personal laptop doesn’t cost a lot, especially if you plan to use it for some email, Netflix, and tweeting. Some of the best laptops you can buy are regularly available for under $1,000—and if you’re open to Chrome OS, some of the best Chromebooks are under $400. I’ve tested all of these devices myself, including the $299 Lenovo Chromebook Duet and the $389.99 Asus Chromebook Detachable, and I’d have no problem using them as my primary personal device. Even a $329.99 iPad can do most laptop things, especially if you buy a keyboard case. Budget laptops have come a long way, and these devices are fast and extremely well made.

Otherwise, what you’re looking for in a personal laptop will come down to your price range and the features you want. This is a huge advantage of a personal tool, in fact – you can tailor the product to your needs and preferences in a way that an IT department may not be able to accommodate. You can look at specifications like processor (an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 should be all you need for web browsing and Netflix), screen resolution (go for 1080p, unless you’re very specific), storage , memory, and weight (you can get laptops for as cheap as two pounds)—and you can find the combination that best suits your lifestyle.

Dell XPS 13 OLED open on a table.  The screen displays a black background.

Here’s one of our favorite personal laptop recommendations, the Dell XPS 13.

Plus, you can get benefits from personal laptops that you probably won’t see in a run-of-the-mill office notebook. Feeling like trying out some games? Get something with GPU. Are you an artist? get something with a stylus. Want a tablet to keep your piano music going? Get something with a detachable screen. Like beautiful lights? Get something with an RGB keyboard. You can cover the product in all the skins, stickers, and decorations you want, and you can even get something that looks totally ridiculous if that’s what you desire. This is your laptop – you are the boss!

I’ll end on a personal note: Many remote employees have trouble logging off. feeling of majority That their personal and professional lives are more mixed than the reach of the office. Now that my work and my leisure are in the same room, with no movement between them, it’s hard to ignore the frightening notion that I must work—that even if I’m off the clock, and more is what I could do.

Speaking from experience, a personal laptop can help. I’m less tempted to check my work email if I’m not logged into my computer. And there’s a little freedom in knowing that Slack notifications won’t pop up when I watch succession Because Slack is my . not installed on succession-Sighting device. A personal laptop is an investment – ​​not only in your safety, but in your mental health as well. you should get one.

Photography by Monica Chin/The Nerdshala

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