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Before you go: Tech tips for Thanksgiving travel

by Elizabeth Parsons, IT Services

The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up next week, and many people in the Miami community are probably preparing their lists of to-dos that need to get to-done before the holiday (or at least thinking about it!).

For students, staff, and faculty alike, any time away from home comes with certain preparations. Turn off lights; make sure the pets are taken care of; make sure you have your passport, plane tickets, travel snacks, and plenty of games for the ride.

One thing you shouldn’t forget about: technology!

Let's take a look at a few technology-related things you should keep in mind during the holiday:

A person stands overlooking Athens, Greece, with a red Miami flag draped over their shoulders

1. Unplug

When you leave your home or office, whether you're traveling home for the holidays or heading out on an adventure, unplug your computer and game systems! This will protect your tech from potential power surges while you're not home.

This also can save you money in the long run, as devices continue to pull minimal amounts of electricity even while idle.

2. Log out

This is a good tip to practice no matter what time of year it is: When you are finished with whatever you’re doing online, log out of your session! Whether it be social media, your bank, or Miami services like Canvas, manually signing out of your session ensures that if someone gains access to your physical machine, they won’t be able to get into your accounts.

The good news is that Miami services automatically log you out after eight hours (regardless of activity or inactivity), and most banks will log you out automatically as well if you’ve been inactive for several minutes—but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

3. Back up your files!

Coming back from time away would be seriously soured if you found that the files on your machine had been compromised in some way. Before you leave, make sure your files are backed up. Choose either an external hard drive or a cloud service like Google Drive or DropBox.

In IT Services, we have automatic backups of most of our systems, and we do manual backups as well. Depending on the kind of file or system, we may be doing backups every day or multiple times per day. For most folks, though, taking a backup of your computer at least once a week is a good idea. Doing a backup right before leaving for a long trip is a great way to ensure your files are just as you left them.

While you’re on the go…

Use these tips for when you are ready for travel and have accomplished all of your pre-boarding tasks.

Use a VPN

Miami’s virtual private network (VPN) service works like a secure tunnel for you to access Miami tools and systems while you’re away from MU-Wireless. Using a VPN can help protect your privacy when on a public network.

Scan physical documents

Identification documentation, passports, important certificates – losing track of physical documents is easier than we’d like it to be. Scan your important documents into your phone (or take photos of them) and put them in a password-protected folder or in a secure connected cloud account like Google Drive or iCloud. That way, you have access to them in case of an emergency!

Be wary with social media

This one is just good common sense – be careful with what you post on social media while you’re away. Potential thieves may see you’re away and assume they have an opportunity. Definitely never post your address or location on social media, and make sure you have location services limited for your social apps:

The most important thing to remember this holiday season: Have fun! We’ll see you back on campus in a couple weeks.

A bright orange pumpkin decoration