Back to School: Prepping your gadgets for a new year

After 3 months of fun in the sun, it’s easy to forget just how much easier gadgets can make your life once class time rolls around. Unfortunately, it seems like the more useful they are, they heavier a beating they take. With each new year comes new people, new parties, and new opportunities for your gadget to disappear or get busted into a million pieces.

We here at CrunchGear love gadgets, and we love you. In turn, we love your gadgets. That’s why we’ve compiled a handful of ways for you to prep your gadget collection for the upcoming scholarly session. Enjoy!

Make it yours: Sure, it seems obvious – but you might be surprised how many gadgets I’ve seen end up lookin’ like they got into a fist fight with a brillo pad, simply because the owner couldn’t find a case that fits their style. The trick? Buy online.

Cases take up a good amount of space without all that much profit margin, so even gadget specialty stores only carry a handful in their meatspace outlets. Shelf space isn’t nearly as big of an issue online, so cases are offered in just about every material and color. For example: Agent18 cases offer full protection without the clunk-factor of silicone cases, while Gelaskins make your device look like a piece of art.

Keep it yours: Theft-protection is one of those things you never think about until 20 minutes after some dude just walked off with your laptop.

There are anti-loss solutions for just about every gadget – especially laptops. Take Orbicule’s Undercover for example – a perfect solution for MacBook Pros and iBooks. Once installed, a quick call to Orbicule will tell the Undercover app to flag your laptop as lost; first, they’ll try to find it by monitoring traffic on the machine and firing off the built-in iSight every 6 minutes. If all else fails, they’ll simulate a machine failure in hopes the thief puts it under the spotlight on eBay.

Bonus Tip: Password protecting your crap makes it useless to a huge chunk of the folks that might steal it. Unlock passwords, login passwords, firmware/BIOS passwords – even if you use the same password across all your gadgets, it’s just enough to protect your data from the average grab-and-dump thief.

Make use of it: For every purpose a gadget comes with out of the box, there are three that people have added after the fact. If you’ve got an iPhone, install Evernote. If you’ve got a graphing calculator, throw some games up on it to help you get through this weeks 29th lecture.

Keep it clean: No one’s going to be impressed by your $500 dollar toy if it looks like you’ve been using it as a napkin. Keeping your gadgets sparkling helps you appreciate them longer – plus, the added attention might help you spot a defect or two that could be covered under warranty.

I’ve used the Klear Screen stuff up above with much success on a bunch of my gadgets – but it’s kind of pricey. If you’re on a budget, try a lint-free cloth (read: not a friggin’ paper towel) and a mixture of 30% isopropyl alcohol, 70% distilled water.