Tip Tuesday: 8 work from home hardware tools

Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite work from home hardware items that I personally use in my VA business.

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Laptop

HP Envy laptop - work from home hardware

My primary work from home hardware tool is a laptop. I purchased a used/refurbished 2-in-1 HP Envy x360 laptop from eBay and lucked out in finding a quality business to deal with. The 2-in-1 means that I can bend the screen all the way back so it’s touching the backside of the keyboard, basically turning it into a tablet.

I am very happy with this laptop, although I’ll confess that I don’t use it as much as a tablet as I thought I would. Probably because of the configuration I purchased. For one, it has a 15.6″ – a good size for a laptop, but overly large to handle as a tablet and two, it’s a bit heavy. I process a LOT of files and therefore needed plenty of storage space, so this particular laptop came with a second 1Tb SSD hard drive. That extra hard drive adds enough weight that I wouldn’t want to hold it in one hand for long.

Note: I do use cloud storage and backups as well, but I follow the rule of threes – keep your files in three places, so in case one drive or backup fails, you are still covered. I have the laptop (1), external hard drive (2), and cloud backup (3). I actually have a fourth if you count that most of my files are on OneDrive.

Keyboard

Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard

I also purchased a separate ergonomic keyboard, but I haven’t used it as much as I thought either – partially because of my desk setup. It’s too narrow to fit my laptop with a keyboard in front. Someday soon, I hope to have a more formal desk with more space where I can use it. I like how ergonomic keyboards fit your natural hand position when typing. I also key enough numbers in that a numeric keypad is essential to me. (You can save “space” on a laptop or keyboard if you don’t need the extra keypad)

Headset

Platronic Headset

Making Zoom calls is a necessary part of my job. I find it best to meet with new clients “face to face” to get to know one another. I also use Zoom calls infrequently for existing clients, because sometimes it’s easier and faster to discuss project needs, instead of sending dozens of emails back and forth.

Using a dedicated headset with a microphone helps keep me focused, improves the sound quality, and also helps drown out background noises – such as another viewing of Phineas & Ferb or a Pixar movie. 😀 It also lets my family know that I’m busy … if they pay attention before they start speaking.

Safety

Having my equipment plugged into a surge protector is essential work from home hardware. I don’t want to be stuck without my laptop – or any other equipment because of energy surges or lightning strikes. I like this inexpensive version because it also has direct USB charging ports! It’s one less thing I need to charge through my laptop or plug into the wall with a connector. I wish I had bought a second one though; this one is already full!

Privacy

Did you know that hackers could potentially use your webcam? If your computer or other electronic device doesn’t have a cover for the webcam, I highly recommend getting one! While not really hardware, having privacy covers for your work from home camera will help protect you and your family.

I don’t have a link for this product as I’m not exactly happy with the version I purchased. It works, but the sticky parts were ineffective, and therefore my cover moves around as I use it. I’m sure you can find decent covers for just a few dollars if you look carefully.

External Hard Drive

As I mentioned above, I rely on multiple backups just in case something happens. I currently have one that is 2Tb (terabytes) but I’m thinking I’d like to get something even larger. As I said, I end up saving a lot of data – especially pictures and videos, both personally and for clients. Most of the client media can be stored on Google Drive or Dropbox, but if I want to use it, I will often have it saved locally and in the cloud for faster access.

I’m thinking this Seagate 5Tb drive is what I need – for less money than I purchased the smaller drive years ago! That’s another reason I’m considering a new hard drive; the age of the old one makes it more vulnerable to failure. Cloud backups are great, but for conveniet, local backups an external hard drive is essential work from home hardware.

Printer

HP OfficeJet Pro 8025 printer

Our printer had been “dying” for months – randomly starting up and making horrid noises as it went through its cycle checks. Not surprising, given that it was at least 10 years old. I had hoped to wait to chuck it until we moved. But then everything shut down this spring and we were stuck. Eventually, I couldn’t get the black ink to print even with multiple ink head cleanings. It was time to purchase a new one – especially since we had some school work to print each week.

I chose this HP OfficeJet printer because it had high ratings and because it wasn’t overly expensive. I purchased the version with Instant Ink. I’m still in the 3 month trial period thankfully because since we’re home, we’re printing WAY more than usual! The 3-month trial gives you up to 300 printed pages for the month without extra charges. I had originally signed up for 50 pages but may have to bump that up to at least 100 if this drags on.

Stylus

MEKO Universal Stylus - a luxury work from home hardware item

This may be a luxury work from home hardware item (not a necessity), especially since I’m not using the laptop as a tablet much, however it has come in handy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like seeing fingerprints all over my screen. Using the stylus instead of my finger on the touch screen means I don’t have to clean (as often). I have also used this when in laptop mode. I prefer the hard plastic precision tip to the flexible nub on the other side.

What do you consider essential work from home hardware? What did I miss?

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