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Laptop Best Practices: for safe computing at Princeton

A few guidelines for Windows laptops users at Princeton help ensure the safest, most effective, and reliable computing on campus.  Updates to these guidelines and best practices will be published to KB solution 1022, so please revisit it periodically.

Don't ignore that yellow exclamation point (!) icon
If you see a yellow exclamation point (!) icon in your system tray, your computer downloaded important Microsoft updates that need to be installed. Don't ignore the message! Click on the icon and let your computer complete the process of installing important security and Operating system updates.

'Hibernate' your computer instead of shutting down while transporting your computer
Princeton University recommends setting laptops to hibernate mode when not in use, particularly when transporting your laptop from one location to another. (It is also recommended that you quit all open programs before transporting your laptop.) Hibernation mode has the added benefit of reducing slow laptop startup when you take your laptop home. To confirm or change the laptop power button settings to the recommended settings, see: Use hibernate mode when carrying your laptop. If you still experience slow startup when you are off campus, please read about how to use your wireless switch at laptop slow to log in.

Use wired network connection when you can
Most laptop computers have both wired and wireless Ethernet adaptor cards, which enable you to connect to the wired and wireless networks of the University at the same time. While technically possible, it is highly recommended that you only connect to one network at a time. In your office or your dormitory room, use your Ethernet cable and wallbox for faster network performance, higher levels of security and system stability. See "Laptop best practices: Use wired network connection when you can" for more information.

Never leave your laptop unattended or unlocked
You should never walk away and leave your laptop unattended, no matter what! It is recommended that for your office or dorm room you purchase a laptop security cable, unless you can lock the door when you leave the room. Always keep it secure and never leave it in your car. If you are staying in a hotel, lock your computer in the room safe if one is available. Use a screensaver that requires a password on wakeup, and always log out of your profile when stepping away from your computer.

Install antivirus software and scan your computer regularly
OIT has negotiated a campus-wide site license with McAfee as the University's recommended antivirus software. The software is free to all faculty, staff, and students and can be downloaded and installed in self-service fashion. See for instructions on downloading and installation. (Faculty and staff using DeSC computers do not need to take any action as the computers are configured to update their virus software and definitions from the Princeton servers.) Set up a scheduled scan of your computer weekly at the minimum.

Evening and weekend behavior - What to expect from your laptop after a windows security patch
To support software installations and data backup, keep your laptop powered on and plugged in through its AC adapter at the office and at home (even when the laptop lid is closed and the computer is in hibernation). 

Encrypt the data on your laptop
All faculty and staff laptops and tablets must be encrypted to help protect the data that's on them. To use a DeSC laptop computer, you must use the University-recommended encryption method. For more information, including how to ensure that you are complying with University encryption policy, see All members of the University community are responsible for safeguarding the University's information and for complying with applicable legislative and contractual obligations.

Reduce risk and increase security with a strong Administrator password
A computer with a weak or blank password for the Administrator account is highly vulnerable to all sorts of virus, trojan, and hacker attacks. It is recommended that you set your Administrator password to a strong password that is both safe and easy to remember. If you follow these rules when creating any password, you reduce the risk of your passwords being compromised and your laptop being hacked. Instructions are available to secure your Administrator password.