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Computer Guys... need advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Deutsch Marques, Jan 21, 2011.

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    Deutsch Marques

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    I currently have two laptops: Work and personal. It's a bit excessive and Murphy's law dictates I have the wrong laptop with me when I need the other one. I just got a new "work" laptop, and I plan to use it for double-duty. Question is... how should I handle the segregation of business and personal use?

    1. Create a second partition on the hard drive, and load a second copy of Win7?

    2. Load VMWare workstation, and have a virtual second computer?

    3. Just keep the laptop as-is and segregate using profiles?

    The machine is a Dell Latitude E6510 with the i7 quad-core, 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, Option 3 seems to be the simplest solution, except for the fact that I join the company domain at work, and a personal workgroup at home.
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    Option #3 looks as good as anything to me. I use mine for both, but I have no real need to segregate my files. I do, however, have the need to keep my family members who may be using my laptop from being in there. So they are one user and I am the other (with a password).

    I'd also suggest picking up a couple of portable 500Gb or 1Tb USB drives to leave at home and work. Plug one in wherever you are and work with files there.


    CAVEAT: I am not a Computer Guy©. I only play one on TV. :D
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    Brian A

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    The big question is why you want / need to separate work and private life. If it's simply to keep personal data off of a company machine, another way is to carry a portable hard drive for personal stuff. Even thumb drives are getting big enough for a huge number of personal files. Get a thumbdrive with 256bit hardware encryption in case you lose the darned thing. I have a 16 GB Bolt Patriot which cost $45.

    I am on the road right now (Bangkok, Thailand) and have two laptops along. Kinda redundant, although my corporate machine is monitored for certain forms of usage compliance, the VPN connection limits internet access and it is unclear what kind of corporate monitoring software is on my corporate laptop anyway. I write this note from my personal laptop.
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    granthr

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    With corporate monitoring these days, this seems to be the way to go. I have a friend who works for a bank and does all personal stuff at work on his iPhone. Kind of tough in my mind when you are on ebay!!! The picture of that euro part just doesn't look so good on a tiny screen. :D

    I guess my only worries are when my boss constantly catches me surfing here! Oh wait I am my own boss. Shoot I guess I can't fire myself, although some days I would like to! :D
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    MGarrison

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    Ditto on Brian's points - if the machine is not yours and/or subject to monitoring and oversight, it might be advisable to not use it for anything personal, or, if so, minimally. If it's yours and you're your own boss or whatever, then separate passworded user profiles is probably adequate.

    There's also software to allow full access between pc's.
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    Brian A

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    You might find it more convenient to go through a corporate firewall on a personal machine to do company business than the other way around. I can connect to my corporate domain through a company-issued Citrix client thingie and a USB Smart Card reader to validate my ID. (If I had one of them new-fangled RFID emulators, it might be even easier!)

    I'm like most people where business needs are pretty low; email, intranet websites and download the occasional file from the corporate servers. Using a virtual desktop works fine for me (unless my internet connection is really crappy, in which case a VPN connection using my company laptop works better).

    Note that I too am not a Computer Guy©; just a hapless victim of corporate policies who has learned how to run the I.T. obstacle course.

    You must be a contender for the most OT original posting on this forum BTW. Congratulations. Hopefully you trying to figure out how to carry your ECU-flash software on your laptop.
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    az3579

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    As a desktop support technician who has seen it all (almost), I can tell you this.
    Do not use your work laptop for personal usage if it was given to you by the company. It is not your property and is not to be used for personal usage whatsoever, technically. You are only granted permission to use the item for business reasons only; any other usage is a violation of company policies and potentially a security threat.

    Of course, almost everyone with a spyware ticket in to us was using it for personal use, so this seems to be ignored by almost everyone. I can't tell you how many times I had someone ****ed at me because data was lost (their fault for not backing up) that ended up being personal crap like pictures and music. I've toughened up and have learned to let them know that I don't care that they lost personal files because they know (via the DISCLAIMER that pops up right before logging into Windows) that only authorized persons may use the device for business reasons only. If it's work stuff, I'm very sympathetic, but personal stuff will get no love from me. If data is intact and includes personal data, I'll still copy it out of courtesy, but if it's lost, don't come crying to me.

    Some companies are not enforcing encryption software on laptops, and may or may not encrypt external drives as well. Most likely, the machine is not encrypted, and doesn't encrypt external drives either. If this is the case, do not put business files on an external drive that isn't encrypted. That is a security hole as big as California.


    If you had a laptop to use (NOT a laptop issued by the company) and had to keep both work and personal files separate, I would just put keep the files in a directory structure that makes sense. You do not have to have separate profiles as long as you are organized, though it is an option if you are OCD to some extent. I personally will never advise putting important, critical files on an external drive, so that to me wouldn't even be an option, especially considering the nature of external drives (prone to being moved around and damaged or lost/stolen).

    A virtual machine is a potential solution, though it can get cumbersome due to the effect it has on battery life if operating on battery, and the fact that switching between two "machines" can get annoying after a while. Plus some applications do not run optimally on a virtual machine due to "hardware" constraints (hardware on the VM side).

    Finally... I hate you (not true, I don't really :) )for having much much better hardware than us TECHNICIANS get at our company. How sad it is that as techs, we only get the "leftover" used crap that is getting refreshed instead of anything new. Whatever...
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    As an employer, I can tell you this. Not necessarily.
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    Brian A

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    How vulnerable is an unencrypted C: drive? My corporate machine is all encrypted as are my business and personal thumbdrives, but my personal laptop is just protected by a Windows password. By the necessities of travel, both my computers (and all my other crap) are often vulnerable to being stolen.

    You're not alone. My personal laptop can sing and dance, but my corporate laptop is pretty much just a keyboard attached to a brick.
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    109941

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    At pressing times like these, I'm reminded of the John Prine lyrics.....

    Blow up your T.V. throw away your paper
    Go to the country, build you a home
    Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches.......

    and, on a more serious note, don't put your personal stuff on the company PC unless you want the IT techs to be laughing at you......
    • Member

    Deutsch Marques

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    I'm not looking for advice on whether or not I should be putting personal stuff on a company laptop. I am the IT department. People use their company equipment for personal use all the time, and as long as it's not excessive, I let it go. People make personal calls on company wireless phones. People use their laptops at home, or even let their kids play on them. People make personal calls from their desks or surf the web during the day. I'm fine with all that. I'm not trying to be the IT Nazis. But people understand that when personal use was the cause of a problem, they are SOL.

    I'm not asking for advice on where to store my files. I have a home server at the house with all my personal files on that. I have all my company files kept on network file servers. In general, I could easily get away with a 30GB HD because there's nothing but program files on my system. So I have no need or worries to find a way to segregate my files.

    What I am asking for is this: Of the choices above, what would others consider the "best" option for connecting to a company domain while at work, and a home workgroup when at home. The only shared application between both locations would really be Office/Outlook. (I need to keep my business and personal emails, contacts, calendars and tasks separate.)

    In a perfect world, I would have two laptops. But unfortunately I just can't justify the purchase of a new personal laptop at this time. Not particularly when my refrigerator unexpectedly imploded on Christmas Eve and needed replacing and my living room furniture desperately needs to be replaced.

    Worst case... if I f*** up my laptop, I'm the one who has to deal with it. No worries of ****ing off anyone else.

    Bad news is I bought the Dell with the least memory and HD I could configure and purchased after the fact a Crucial 8GB update and SSD. Memory installed fine. I can't get the damn SSD to work.
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    Deutsch Marques

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    We used to have a policy where the execs and upper management would always get the new computers and everything would trickle down. Meaning the "lowly" positions would get the oldest, crappiest junk around. Constantly re-rolling computers was time-consuming and a pita. Even when the IT department was 4 people for 180-employees.

    Now that we've downsized to a 1-person IT department for 70-employees, my policy is a 3-year life-cycle. Doesn't matter if you're the CEO or the janitor, if your computer is 3+ years old, you are up for a brand new replacement. Much less work and easier to manage. Plus it doesn't play favorites where someone is getting new a new PC every 6 months.
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    109941

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    What happens to the PC/laptops after their three year life? If the machines are still usable, couldn't you access one of those units for your at-home terminal?
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    tiFreak

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    I'd think they'd just sell them off in bulk to offset the cost of the new computers

    my suggestion for separating files is just to make a second profile or even just use folders within the same profile, I don't see a need to make it more complicated than it needs to be
    • Member

    Deutsch Marques

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    The old IT regime would trickle down computers until the poor lowly employees had something that barely ran. When it died of failed components, they'd get another junker while some upper manager got a brand new machine to replace his 6 month old box.

    Additionally, for about 3-4 years, our parent company was making us lease computers. So right now the situation I find myself in is 1/2 of the employees have 3 year old leases that need to be returned. The other 1/2 have 5-10 year old computers. Now that I've become the IT manager, I'm faced with having to replace approximately 50 computers at once, with an IT department of 1 to do all those deployments, plus manage the divestiture from the old parent company's infrastructure, plus all my normal daily duties.

    I did sell a pile of old computers to employees for cheap, but they were 6 year old desktops. No laptops worth anything in my storeroom.

    Remember, it has nothing to do with files. It has everything to do with connecting to a domain at work, and a workgroup at home. And needing two distinctly separate profiles in Outlook. And in keeping personal software off the domain, if possible.
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    109941

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    Would a VPN connection meet your needs?
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    az3579

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    This is the only thing I can think of. As far as I know, Windows can't be joined to both a Workgroup AND a domain; it doesn't allow it. I could be wrong though.

    The only thing I could think of is to have it on a Workgroup for home and to VPN in for the company network. If you're not joined to the domain, there could be other issues as well, but those issues may not affect you (can't ping your computer if it's assigned a specific name [such as asset tag and IP address], can't access certain share drives, etc.). I don't know your particular setup as far as the work network goes; it could be something simple or it could be a large and complicated network.

    What operating system is it running? XP, Vista, or 7?

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