The Gift of Tech

Tis the season of giving! A lot of those gifts will be desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones. How exciting! My gift to you this holiday season will be tips to keep you and your new toys safer from harm.

If you got a brand new device:

  • Let it charge before you try to use it. If you are in the middle of the setup and it goes dead, it could get stuck there and not work at all.
  • Check for updates to the operating system or programs… then let the device do them.
  • Don’t throw away any the manuals and media, especially if they have serial and product numbers on them.
  • Many new devices come with programs, applications and games that you didn’t ask for. Keep what you want, delete the rest.
  • If the device offers you online deals, don’t automatically accept them. Check them out before committing. Many of these ‘free deals’ turn into ‘billable purchase’ in 90 days or less.
  • Keep the boxes and packaging it came in for at least 30 days in case you need to return it if a defect is found later.

If you got a ‘new’ device which was previously someone else’s (also known as used or reconditioned device):

  • Search and delete programs that allow someone to access the machine remotely that you didn’t ask for. Yes Virginia, the seller could have installed a program to watch your use and capture details about you (and your transactions).
  • Follow the same rules as if it was new (as listed above)

What to do with your old tech? If you’re going to gift it to someone else or perhaps donate or recycle it, you should:

  • Consider making a full backup only if you can access the backup from another device. No sense in backing up what you can’t access later.
  • Follow a factory-reset procedure on the device to eliminate your account, history, use and purchases. This can be pretty involved, especially if you have an Apple device.
  • Have someone double-check to see if they can log in or access anything left on the computer.
  • If you are going to recycle, take out your screwdriver and find the hard disk and pull it out and keep it. That said, some verified recyclers will give you absolute guarantees that they will wipe your disk, so if those assurances pass your standards, do that.
  • Do not just throw the old tech in the garbage. Bad hombres do look for tech-branded boxes in garbage and will search for your old tech to reap and resell the information on it.