How to switch between your work computer and personal laptop in one click | Job Binary

a man looking at his smartphone while sitting at a computer in his home office

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So your employer has given you a laptop for work, but they won’t let you do anything personal. They also point out that you can’t do any work-related tasks on your personal computer, and switching between the two laptops is a pain. Is there an easier way?

As beholden minions to distant IT overlords, we sympathize. In fairness to your IT department, their primary concern is keeping the network secure. The most effective way to achieve this goal is to minimize random web browsing and avoid using unauthorized software while connected to the HQ virtual private network.

As you’ve discovered, however, even the simplest non-work-related computing tasks are a pain to complete.

The solution, ironically, is to use a small piece of hardware that your IT staff is probably familiar with: the KVM switch. These devices were originally designed for network administrators who had to deal with multiple computers in a data center or server room, but they are also ideal for working from home.

Also: Best laptops: Does Apple take that crown?

KVM stands for “keyboard, video, mouse,” which provides a pretty good summary of what this type of switch does. Get a full-size keyboard, an external display, and a mouse. Plug in the KVM switch. Connect your work computer to one set of inputs and your home laptop to the other, and you can switch between devices with the flick of a switch.

A good KVM switch also lets you connect external speakers and additional USB devices, such as an external hard drive that you can use to exchange files between devices.

If you already have a USB 3.0 hub, you can probably get away with something simple $15 Sabrent USB 3.0 Sharing Switch.

In our experience, however, a dedicated KVM switch $99 IOGear GCS92HU (Amazon is currently offering a $40 off coupon) is a better option. ZDNet’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols praised the device’s ability to effortlessly switch between PC, Mac, and Linux devices and concluded that it’s “worth every penny.”

If both laptops support the Thunderbolt standard, a slightly more difficult (but equally effective) option is to use one. USB C type docking station. As with a KVM switch, you’ll be using an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, along with any other peripherals you may need. To switch from one computer to another, simply unplug the USB-C adapter from one device and plug it into the other.

For a rundown of the options in this category, check out ZDNet’s guide to the 13 best laptop docking stations.

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