Sending Your Kid’s Computer Off to College (GeekDad Weekly Rewind)


My eldest daughter is starting college at the end of August. This means a summer full of preparations, including getting her new netbook computer ready.

I bought her an Asus Eee PC, mainly because of the $230 price point. That’s one of the lowest priced netbooks I’ve found. I realize that means the bells and whistles are extremely limited, but she has a desktop to do the heavy lifting. And there’s always the possibility that she’d lose it carrying it to and from class. This model, I can replace. A MacBook or a fancy Sony netbook, not so much.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of the tech problems she could face. I can’t do anything about the hardware issues but since we’ve had problems with viruses and spyware in the past on our PCs, I wanted to protect this one as best I could, including her files.

The first thing I did was install Super Anti-Spyware 5, which has worked tremendously well on her desktop PC. Other good virus protectors include Malwarebytes and BullGuard. The first is free, the second has real-time virus protection but it will cost $60 for a one-year subscription but that does cover up to three computers.

Super-Anti Spyware works not only by itself but also in conjunction with other antivirus programs.

Next, I installed Ccleaner. Perhaps it’s overkill but it’s a very quick little program, it’s free and it cleans up all the gunk quickly and easily.

Next step was to discuss file backups. Any portable drive will do to back up files, of course, though I do like this Verbatim Tuff-n-Tiny USB drive. Still, there was the problem with things being lost. Electronic backup also seemed smart.

Obviously, Google Docs will keep the work in a safe place, no matter what happens to the computer, but I know many people don’t like the formatting of Google Docs. I have used two online backup systems, both for free, and would recommend them. There’s, which will store all your files and resend them to you at your request in case of a crash. It automatically backs up the files you choose.

The second is Dropbox, which can be installed on the computer as a folder either in your Documents files or separately. I love Dropbox because I can save my work there and easily swap from my MacBook to my PC desktop. I never have to carry anything or worry I’ve opened the earlier version instead of the later version. Once something is saved on Dropbox, it’s there in the most recent form. There was a recent scare about Dropbox’s new privacy policy, which seemed to give the company the rights to documents saved on the site but Dropbox issued a statement that says, well, the new policy does not mean what you think it means.

Finally, there’s the problem I mentioned earlier with the netbook being lost or stolen. I tried out the Griffin Tech-Safe Universal Laptop lock, which I received as a free sample. That seemed like the perfect solution but three of us tried it out (me, my eldest daughter and my eldest son) and while it’s effective when installed, it’s also difficult and frustrating to install. If you decide to go with this, possibly to protect a much more expensive MacBook, I’d recommend practicing with your student first to make sure they can hook it up quickly and easily. For the netbook, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

Now, if it just worked to lock my eldest to her desk and force her to study and do her homework while she’s at college, that would definitely be worth the effort.

[This article, by Corrina Lawson, was originally published on Wednesday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]

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