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Computing Guide: Laptops

A guide to computing at Berkeley Law.

Berkeley Campus Minimum Security Standards for Networked Devices (MSSND)

UC Berkeley reserves the right to deny access to its electronic communications network to any devices that do not meet its standards for security. These standards can be found here:

Laptop Lending on Campus

During the COVID-19 pandemic, campus created the Student Technology Equity Program (STEP) for the long-term lending of laptops and other equipment to students. The program is still active for the 2022-2023 academic year. The STEP program generally makes lending decisions based on proof of financial need. Details and the application form can be found at this link - Student Computing has no access to or knowledge of STEP program policies and procedures.

Other laptop/device lending programs and information on campus can also be found at this link. The main campus library system does offer a number of loaner laptops for students to check out - we recommend visiting Moffitt to obtain one. The law library and law school do not offer any loaner laptops to our students.

Buying a New Laptop

Any laptop bought within the last 2-3 years should serve you adequately during your time at Berkeley Law. It is highly recommended that new laptop purchases include a multi-year warranty/service plan, or as long of a warranty as you can get.

Some computers, accessories, and academic and popular software for students may be available for purchase through the Cal Student Store. UC Berkeley students are eligible for competitive discounts on online purchases from major retailers.

Laptop Support Services

Berkeley Law provides broad support to laptops running the English-language versions of modern Windows and Macintosh operating systems, and provides narrower support to other operating systems and to mobile devices. We do not provide hardware support.

We expect students to ensure that their laptops adhere to the Minimum Security Standard guidelines (see left). In particular, students should be aware of the campus requirements for the timely installation of software updates/patches.

Keeping Your Own Computer Healthy

  1. Make sure your system is kept updated with security patches
    Newly discovered vulnerabilities in your operating system can be exploited almost instantaneously. Microsoft and Apple respond by issuing security patches or system updates. Your computer receives these patches when you run Windows Update (look for it in the Settings) or Apple Software Update (look for it in System Preferences).
  2. Schedule Windows Update/Apple Software Update to take care of itself
    Windows Update on PCs (in Settings) and Software Update on Macs (in System Preferences) allow you to configure your computer to get updates automatically. If you prefer to install updates on your own schedule, just be sure to install the updates on a frequent basis (weekly should be sufficient) and not skip them indefinitely!
  3. Use an antivirus service (on Windows computers), and keep it updated
    More information is available on our Software page.
  4. Run a firewall
    Firewalls monitor network traffic and are critical in blocking many network attacks. Windows and Mac computers both come with a built-in firewall. Windows users should make sure to enable the Windows Firewall. Mac users can choose to enable their firewall via System Preferences if they wish.
  5. Clean out Spyware
    Spyware, adware and malware are insidious little programs that accumulate on many student laptops and slow them down or pester students with annoying ads and popups. For Windows, use a free tool like Malwarebytes (stick with the free edition, which will be sufficient), Spybot S&D (again, use the free version), or Microsoft’s Safety Scanner to clean your machine every few months or so. For Mac users, Malwarebytes also produces a good free Mac malware scanner.

Backing Up Your Work

Many people start thinking about backing up their data about 10 minutes after it's too late to do any good. If you only realize that you need a backup after your laptop crashes, you're setting yourself up for a data disaster! Are you prepared to lose all of your schoolwork? What would you do if your entire collection of digital photos disappeared tomorrow? Do you have backup copies of your electronically-filed tax return or your crucial correspondence?

Fortunately, backing up your essential files is neither difficult nor time-consuming. The whole process can take as little as 10 minutes per week, and you can let your computer do the work for you. For Windows, you can use File History backups to back up your data to an external hard drive. On Macs, Time Machine will automate the backup process to an external hard drive for you.

Apps from Google, Box, DropBox, OneDrive, and more will also allow you to automatically back up selected folders on your computer to the cloud. All Berkeley students receive a large amount of free storage from Google while enrolled - for more information on automatically backing up your files to bDrive, see the bDrive section under the Laptop tab in this computing guide.

The simplest method of backing up your files is to make a manual copy to an external hard drive, USB key, CD/DVD, or some sort of web/cloud storage. bDrive gives all students a large amount of online storage which can be used to manually or automatically back up important files and access them from any computer where you have access to the internet.

Help & Support

Email computing staff at

Chat with computing staff HERE during remote support hours.

Walk-in support available in the LL131 computer lab (labtechs).

Lab Hours

The computer lab is open (to Berkeley Law students only) whenever the Law Library is open (but not during the Main Reading Room-only hours). Please consult our hours here or reach out to us through email or chat for technical assistance.