How to keep your gadgets safe at university

by Rob Duke | Nov 30, 2021
laptop with a lock in front of it

Having problems with your gadgets when you’re at university can derail your whole year, so we’ve put together a list of top tips to help you keep your most precious belongings safe while you’re away studying.

Make sure your accommodation is secure

If you leave your doors or windows open when you aren’t in your room, you could be asking for trouble. Best to make sure to lock up whenever you aren’t in there – and the same goes for communal parts of the property (as burglars have been known to target unsecure-looking student accommodation). 

If you feel like the security isn’t up to scratch where you’re living, it could be worth having a quick chat with your landlord to discuss your concerns, as they might be able to improve the situation with a few minor changes. 

Take care when you’re out and about

You’re usually moving around a lot at university, so it’s important to make sure your phone has a proper protective case on it (rather than the basic plastic sleeve you sometimes get free with handsets). Also, make sure your laptop bag is a snug fit and suitably padded in case it gets knocked around while you’re going from lecture to lecture.

You should ensure that you don’t carry your phone or any other valuable devices in your back pockets, or an open-topped bag. You might feel like it’s still safe, but all it takes is one second of distraction for someone to quickly grab them. Universities can be hotspots for theft, so always stay aware of your possessions and your surroundings.

You can also get a physical lock that attaches to the side of your laptop and allows you to use a reinforced cable to tie it to something fixed (like a secured table leg). 99% of laptops have a special slot designed specifically for this, and it’s a huge deterrent for thieves, so it’s worth investing in one.  

Use strong passwords and fast auto-lock-screens

Most people carry a ton of personal information on their gadgets, so make sure that all your devices have hard-to-crack passwords to prevent unwanted access. 
 
On top of this, always make sure to screen lock your laptop whenever you leave it unattended, even if it’s in a seemingly safe space.

To quickly lock your screen: 

- On a Mac: press Control + Command + Q
- On a PC: Press the Windows Key + L

You can do the same on your phone or tablet by simply tapping the off button whenever you aren’t using it. 

Also, it’s good to adjust your phone screen-timeout settings so that, when you forget to manually lock the screen, it doesn’t stay open and vulnerable for too long.

To change the auto-lock timer on your mobile:

- On Android phones go to: Settings > Display > Screen timeout / Sleep 
- On Apple handsets go to: Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock

Use antivirus software

You’re often jumping from network to network when you’re at university, so it’s good to have software set up on your devices to help prevent malicious attacks.

There are hundreds of options out there, and some of them are quite pricey (even with student discounts), but a good free option to get you started is AVG Antivirus**. It’s simple to set up and they now offer their services for PCs, Apple devices, and Android phones. Cushdy!

Activate ‘Find my device’ apps on smartphones

‘Find my device’ apps do what they say on the tin, allowing you to quickly find your handset (as long as you’ve got the location settings on). They can also help you remotely delete any personal data to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

On Apple devices: Try Apple’s ‘Find My’ feature through your iCloud account.

On Android devices:  Try Google’s ‘Find My Device’ feature (requires a free Google account and a sign-in). 

Get Insurance cover

If your device is lost, stolen, or damaged; gadget insurance can help you get repairs or replacements and avoid having to splash tons of cash on a new handset. Bit of a life-saver, really!

As a student, you can get 15% off gadget insurance with Protect Your Bubble* (winner of What Mobile Awards: Best Insurance Provider 2020) through My Endsleigh – the essential student app (winner of Insurance Choice Awards: Best Student Insurance provider 2021).

As well as saving on insurance, you can access free student wellbeing services and earn cashback when you shop with over 3,000 brands, so make sure to check it out.

Register your devices 

With most gadgets, you can sign up for a 12 to 24-month warranty that, in some instances, could help you return your device and get a replacement if there’s a mechanical issue. Although the cover won’t be as comprehensive as standalone gadget insurance, it could still save your bacon.

You can also add your devices to a free UK national property register at www.immobilise.com. This can help the authorities determine that it’s your property if it is stolen, which improves your chances of getting it back. Definitely worth it for extra peace of mind.

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*Underwriter Assurant General Insurance Limited. Gadget age restrictions, T&Cs & excesses apply. Customer UK

**Recommendation based on independent research. We do not receive any commission from AVG. Optional paid upgrades are available with AVG antivirus. Personal needs may vary. Make sure you assess any product to make sure it suits your requirements before purchasing.

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