What should I do before I go on vacation?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 13, 2008 8:20 PM

Question

I will be leaving for a vacation for 3 months, how should I shut down my computer while away? I would (also) like to get my emails while away.

-Bob

Answer

This question was answered on March 13, 2008. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Technology has changed how most of us vacation and knowing what your options are before you leave can often save you lots of money and frustration.

As far as protecting your computer while you’re away, the best thing to do is to shut it down and unplug it from the electrical outlet as well as any Internet connection that you use.

The primary objective is to protect it from any external power anomalies that might occur while you are away.

Most folks remember to unplug the computer from the power outlet to eliminate any chances of getting “hit”, but don’t realize that the computer is still exposed to potential power surges through a high-speed Internet connection or even a dial-up modem.

Another thing to consider is your inkjet printer. One of the most common problems for those that don’t use their inkjet printers for an extended period is that the ink is clogged up when they get back from a long vacation (this is not an issue with laser printers).

No matter what brand of printer you use, run the built-in head cleaning utility for your inkjet printer prior to leaving for an extended period.

In some cases, you can remove the ink cartridges and place them in a sealed plastic bag to reduce the chances of them drying out (check the support section of the manufacturer’s website before doing this).

Make sure you store the ink cartridges upright and put a piece of tape over the print nozzle and any breather holes.

As far as getting your e-mail while on the road, there are no shortage of options. The key is to make sure you have a “web-mail” account before you hit the road so you can get to your messages from any Internet terminal.

Most larger e-mail services offer a web-mail option, so start by checking with your vendor. If they don’t offer anything as part of your service, sign up for a free Gmail account from Google at http://mail.google.com .

You can configure Gmail to check your regular e-mail account(s) as long as they conform to industry standards for electronic mail.

Once it’s setup, you can get to your mail from any computer that has an Internet connection or any handheld device that can access the Internet.

Internet cafes can be found in virtually every country in the world these days and finding them right down to a neighborhood is generally possible.

There are a number of online cyber café directories such as http://www.cafetouch.com , but I have found that if you search for “Internet cafes in (name of the city, or region)” in Google, you can find location specific resources that are more helpful.

Cruise ship and hotels these days offer options for gaining access to the Internet, but most are very expensive as they are charging you for the convenience.

If you do a little homework before you leave and think through exactly what level of access you will need while on vacation, you can be very efficient and keep the costs down.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 13, 2008

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