Holiday tips – IT in the villa

Should you need to be in touch on holiday, Conosco’s IT support team recently sent out some useful tips. Having just done a week ‘working from Italy’, I can vouch for them – especially the Vodafone 3G dongle.

1) Don’t forget to pack IT

To avoid surprises, add these essentials to your ‘to pack’ list

  • blackberry / iphone / smartphone & charger
  • laptop, charger & case
  • plug adaptors
  • 3G dongle or card for laptop
  • ethernet cable for laptop

Remember to call your mobile phone company to double-check you have roaming enabled for voice-calls and data. Ask them for the latest deals and bundles for overseas too.

2) Check your IT is travel-ready

You don’t want to end up poolside with a dead internet connection. Go outside and test it before you leave. (With Bermuda shorts and a margherita if you have to.)

  • Turn on your 3G internet connection and visit a news web site. Check you are seeing the latest information, not just a cached page.
  • If you use a VPN, connect to it.
  • If you use Terminal Services, start them.
  • Send and receive emails to both a friend and a work colleague using a desktop email program (like Outlook or Mac.Mail).
  • Send and receive an email using your email’s web interface.
  • Open, edit and save a document from your office’s shared folders.

If you have trouble with any of these, get them fixed before you leave. If it all works fine, you’re good to go.

3) Go Through Security

Laptops and phones can easily be mislaid or stolen while travelling. Get an expert to check your security is up to scratch. That way, if the worst happens, your business won’t be compromised.

  • Ensure remote-access passwords are complex enough.
  • Encrypt the hard drive on your laptop.
  • Set automatic screen locks on your laptop and smartphone.
  • Pin-code your phone.
  • Don’t store all your sensitive passwords in a text file on your desktop.

If you have trouble remembering your passwords, try Roboform for PCs or Apple’s MobileMe.

Remember: if you lose your iPhone and have the latest 3.0 software, you or your staff can log into a web site to see a Google Map of exactly where it is. (And yes, you can disable it – just turn off ‘push’ email under Settings > Mail > Fetch 😉

If you lose your iPhone or BlackBerry, call your IT department to wipe the data.

4) Poolside IT – how to work from the sun

  • Wireless. The villa may have wifi. But don’t trust it. For complete peace-of-mind, get a 3G adaptor for your laptop. It’s simple and it’ll work almost anywhere in the world.
    • We like the Vodafone USB Modem Pro, free with an £18pm plan for unlimited UK data and £8.50 a day for unlimited usage. Just don’t let the kids near it.
  • Laptop Batteries. Last even less than an English summer. Turn down the screen brightness and set it to go blank after a minute idle. Keep it in the shade to avoid overheating.
    • We recommend a neoprene case to help protect it from knocks and scratches.
  • Important Docs. File sizes – especially for presentations – can be too large for mobile connections.
    • We recommend Google Docs, where you can store and edit docs directly on a website. That way they’re always accessible, backed up and can be shared with others, wherever you are.
  • Management. Use web-based services to keep an eye on your business from afar.
    • We use NetSuite, which gives you all the latest figures through a website. Or use  to access your office computer securely from anywhere in the world.
  • Email. Go webmail. Use your email’s web interface to stop your laptop downloading all your mail and hefty attachments. On 3G that’s expensive and slow.
  • iPhone. Do you really need to be woken on the sunlounger by every new email? Turn off push email. As a bonus, your battery will last much much longer

OUR FAVOURITE: Best laid plans

Fast-growing site TripIt makes it effortless to organize and share your travel plans. You just forward your flight, hotel and car booking confirmations and it digests them into simple, easy-to-share travel plans. Then it tracks weather and flights and will alert  you to any trouble. Brilliant!

Happy trails!