Simply stated: the computer equipment in your office – the machines, network, etc – is the property of your employer. Therefore your employer can strictly enforce control over what you can do and can’t do with that equipment. Many employers tolerate employees checking personal email accounts, but still have formal policies in place against such practices.
But in some organizations the policies for computer use are strictly enforced. Wanna connect your mp3 player to the machine at work and download tunes? Don’t do it! I saw one guy get fired for storing his music library on his employer’s servers. When network resources were noticeably compromised, the in-house network administrator promptly had him and all his tunes removed from the premises. Ouch. Then there was the student who downloaded “objectionable content” who was summarily escorted from his seat and told never to return. And forget about saving your non-work related files to your local hard drive!! That too is an egregious violation of protocol!
Oh, and if the laptop you’re using is your own, it’s still your employer’s network, so you don’t get off the hook that way either.
But if you absolutely need to store files (text, music, email, pictures, whatever!) other than on your own personal hard drive, you now have a variety of practical options to facilitate this.
- USB Flash memory drives: These little suckers have gotten so inexpensive, they are a very practical solution for transporting files you don’t want to keep on someone else’s servers. And their capacities have increased allowing a great deal of flexibility, functionality and practicality. Since almost all computers (PC & Mac) have open USB ports, you can’t go wrong with this solution.
- Flash Memory Cards: Compact Flash, Memory Stick and others are excellent storage tools, if the computer you’re using has a card reader. These little suckers can hold tons of information, but because of their size are easy to lose.
- Online Remote Storage: You can set up a free or low-fee online storage account from a variety of providers where you can store gigs of your most important transportable files, and you can store them securely and access them from anywhere. This is great for creating off-site backups of your most important files, or sharing files with others when working collaboratively.
So having said that, you should only be using your work machine for work, you don’t have to clog your employer’s resources with your personal documents.
Point made. Now get back to work!