Back to School PC Essentials
With many students heading back to the classroom or setting off to a new university around this time of year, we like to run down the essential software and services for new students. Having your own PC for school, college or university is a definite advantage. Computer labs on campus often get full very quickly, so having access to your own machine is a huge plus.
Choosing a new PC? Here are some things you may not have considered – It’s tempting to get the biggest, most powerful PC you can afford for when you’re living and studying away from home. After all, who wouldn’t want to play all the latest and greatest games between lectures and homework? Think carefully however, if you’re carrying your laptop around campus you will want something that’s light weight. You will also want something that’s durable, university campuses can be busy and you will find yourself bustled between buildings on a regular basis.
Battery life is also important. Think that you can charge your laptop on campus? Don’t be so sure. Many universities will not allow this outside of your own dorms unless you have your laptop fully tested for electrical safety (known as PAT testing in the UK).
So, what kind of PC should I get? – For most students we’d still recommend a traditional laptop, but it does depend a lot on what course you are planning to take. Perhaps if your course is in advanced mathematics or 3D modelling, In this case you might want to consider sacrificing portability in exchange for a traditional, desktop PC since you need the extra “bang for your buck” in terms of computing power.
The range of Windows 10 machines just keeps on growing. While we’d normally hesitate to recommend a tablet PC for productivity tasks, Lenovo’s new Yoga Book looks like it could be just the ticket for busy students, check out the preview of this innovative little PC here.
Get insurance! – If you’re buying a particularly expensive laptop, you should consider some kind of insurance. Not only can your laptop be stolen or damaged when you’re on campus, student halls of residence are a prime target for thieves too. If you’re leaving your PC in your room, store it somewhere out of sight or, better still, in a locked cupboard.
No excuse for not backing up – Having your PC stolen is bad enough, but if you leave all your work on your PC and it’s taken, it’s unlikely the thieves will think to mail you a copy back. These days however, there’s really no excuse. Back up your assignments to one of the many free online cloud storage services. Microsoft now give 5GB of free space with OneDrive, which is integrated into Windows 10. You can also get 2GB from Dropbox and a whopping 15GB from Google Drive.
In the UK? You may need a TV license – Students in the UK should be aware that if they watch TV broadcasts through the BBC iPlayer, either live or recorded, they are supposed to have a TV license. Exactly how broadly this will be enforced is unclear, but the fines for flouting the law can be significant.
Bought a new PC? De-clutter it now! – We discussed why you should set about de-cluttering a new PC that you buy in our June newsletter.
Top software picks for students
Of course, you’re going to want to load your PC with some useful software before to help you study, so here are several of our top picks.
LibreOffice – There aren’t many students who don’t need a word processor for typing up essays and assignments. LibreOffice gets our pick as the best free office software. Microsoft’s own Office 365 Student edition and the web/cloud based Google Docs are also worth a look of course.
OneNote – We recommend Microsoft OneNote for note taking. OneNotes long running competitor Evernote now requires a premium subscription to work on more than one device. No such restrictions on OneNote, meaning you can create, access, edit and save notes no matter which device you have to hand.
Diigo – There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a great reference online and then forgetting the address later. Avoid this situation by signing up to Diigo. Diigo stores your bookmarks and associated notes in the cloud. You can log in on campus, save important web pages then access them back at your dorm.
If you’re going off to university, we hope you have a great time and build friendships and experiences that stay with you for the rest of your life. There will be stressful times and times you wish you could quit, but for most of you it will be a very worthwhile experience, so have fun!
That concludes our newsletter for September. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to say thank you to all our readers, new and old for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th October 2016 for more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!