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UC Berkeley School of Law Library UC Berkeley School of Law Library BerkeleyLaw Library

Computing Guide: Laptops

A guide to computing at Berkeley Law.

Minimum Standards for Security of Berkeley Campus Networked Devices

UC Berkeley reserves the right to deny access to its electronic communications network by devices that do not meet its standards for security. These standards can be found here:
https://security.berkeley.edu/mssnd

Laptop Lending on Campus

During the COVID-19 pandemic, campus created the Student Technology Equity Program (STEP) to lend laptops and other equipment for long-term periods of time to students while they were studying from home. The program is still currently active for the 2021-2022 academic year. The STEP program generally makes lending decisions based on proof of financial need. Details and the application form can be found at the link - we do not know any details about the current state of the program here in Student Computing.

Other laptop/device lending programs and information on campus can also be found at this link. The main campus library system does offer some loaner laptops for students to check out. 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 three to four years should serve you adequately during your time at Berkeley Law. It is highly recommended that new laptop purchases include a 3-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 Technology department of the Cal Student Store online or in the physical store location. 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 operating systems or Macintosh OS X, 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 Standards guidelines (see left). In particular, students should be aware of the campus requirements for the timely installation of software 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 Control Panel) or Apple Software Update (look for it in System Preferences).
  2. Schedule Windows Update/Apple Software Update to take care of itself
    The Windows Update tool on PCs (in Settings/Control Panel) and the Software Update Scheduler on Macs (in System Preferences) let you configure your computer to get updates automatically. A good option to choose in Windows is “Download Updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.” Just be sure to install the updates when the bubble alert pops up in the lower right-hand corner of your screen! On Macs, be sure to schedule updates on a frequent basis (weekly should be sufficient).
  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

Most people think about backing up data about 10 minutes after it's too late to do any good. If you only realize that you need a backup after your hard drive 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 few as 10 minutes a week, and you can let your computer do the work for you. All you will need is an external hard drive.

For Windows, the newest versions of the operating system come with built-in backup software, and, for older operating systems, there are many free programs available online and packaged with external hard drives that can automate the process for you. On Macs, Time Machine will also automate the backup process for you.

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 automatically sync and back up important files and access them from any computer where you have access to the internet. For more information on bDrive, see the bDrive section under the Laptop tab.

Help & Support

Email computing staff at studentcomputing@law.berkeley.edu.

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 hours). Please consult our hours here or reach out to us through email or chat for technical assistance.