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Ever had your computer crash or get infected with a virus? Have your laptop batteries failed at the worst possible moment? Ever forgotten a password? Read on about how to prevent these things from happening again while traveling.


1. Create and take setup and boot disks, plus any registration numbers necessary for reinstalls and downloads. Boot disks (also called start-up disks) are floppy disks that contain all of the system files you need to get your computer started.


2. Load your virus protection. Many people load their virus protection on their home computer, but forget to do so on their laptop. A virus is a virus is a virus, no matter where you get it.


3. Review your software and files to make sure you have what you need on your laptop. This will keep you from getting caught on the road without an essential piece of software or file.


4. Use the same software, even the same versions, at home and on the road. While on the road, comfortable work habits are already difficult to maintain; you don't need the added frustration of changing your routines for a different version-or worse, different brand of software-especially for high-volume tasks such as word processing and e-mail.


5. Test any new software before you leave. Eliminate conflicts in your software or operating systems and check that the easy install actually works.


6. Take contact numbers for technical support. Jot down phone numbers in an appointment or address book-and bookmark Web sites-for companies you may need to contact for technical support or downloads during your trip.


7. Check ahead for any unusual connector requirements. When making hotel or motel reservations, ask if you can plug into their phone system with a modem. Also ask about computer connections in the housing where you'll be staying while on assignment.


8. Write down passwords. Use the same appointment or address book where you recorded contact numbers to record user names and passwords for online services, Web sites, and software packages.


9. Load up the carry-on bag. Pack your phone cord and extra battery in your carry-on computer case. Airports-and even airplane seats-now have phone jacks, and pay phones may have direct Internet connections.


10. Avoid battery failures. While waiting for your next flight, look for accessible outlets and plug in to work without running down your battery-or recharge it for work during the flight. If traveling by car, plug into your hotel or motel's outlet to recharge your battery overnight so it's always ready.


11. When you return home, copy any important or changed files to your desktop computer. You may make small changes to documents on the road, then forget about them and use an older version when you get home. If you immediately copy all of the new or altered files onto your desktop computer, you'll always be using the most recent version.