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DEARSUGAR and Paranoid Paris need your help. She's off to college next semester and she's heard horror stories that roommates use your things when you are away at class. She has two computers that she needs to protect and so she's wondering if you have any suggestions how to nicely and gently approach her new roomies about not using them.

Dear Sugar
I am starting a new school after the first of the year and for the first time in my life I will be living away from home. I've already paid a deposit for a great apartment just a block from campus and I am excited except for the fact that I will be living with five other girls, one of which will be sharing a bedroom with me.

I am a web-designer; and so I have two computers. One of them was provided to me by the company that I work for and it's lightning fast. The other is my personal laptop, that I also use for business and for school purposes. My best friend also attends this university, and lives in the dorms on-campus.

I would think that in the Information Age that more students would have their own computers, but that is apparently not the case at this school. My best friend has told me all the awful stories about one of her roommates, who has essentially taken over the only computer in their dorm room.

She constantly complains about the owner of the computer and she won't get off of it, even when asked politely. I don't want to be psycho about this, but I've just got this terrible sinking feeling that this will happen to me when I get to school and I just can't have people playing on my computers.

Let's face it, the average web user is not very tech savvy. They download viruses, trojans, worms, spy ware without even knowing what they're doing. Seeing as this is my livelihood, I can't afford to get a virus! Perhaps I am jumping the gun, but how appropriate is it for me to lay down the rules upon my arrival? Is there a polite way that I can ask them not to use my computers without my permission? I am concerned that if I don't bring it up immediately, then I am just asking for trouble. Paranoid Paris

Join The Conversation
Padraigin Padraigin 10 years
Why should she pay more money just to ensure no one uses her personal belongings? Like everyone is saying, password protect and explain that one computer is for work only and it is not your computer, it belongs to your job, and that the other computer is one you use quite often and while you would love to be able to share, you just cannot risk your investment and the like. People will understand.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Password. I would think the company you work for would require that on your business computer anyway. Plus I think if you just explained why they can't use it would make it a whole lot easier. If this is such a big issue to you than you should have gotten your place or coughed up the extra cash for your own room rather than share.
Bonne Bonne 10 years
Of course, password protection is the first answer. But when you do move in, you will have to go over the house rules to make the living situation easier.
t0xxic t0xxic 10 years
Yah just password them and if they ask b like I cant. Ones for work and Im not comfortable with it. ------ only 18 days to go
a-nonny-mouse a-nonny-mouse 10 years
Password protect them. If the roomies ask to use them, just gently inform them that you're very particular about your computers -- you follow a strict rule that no one other than yourself uses them (to protect your equipment and your privacy). (You may be able to make an easy case for this with your work computer; perhaps it's company policy that NO ONE use that computer for anything other than work related business.) I wouldn't allow it to become a topic of discussion -- and don't be overly apologetic about it. If you are matter of fact about it, it will be easier to assert your authority. (They are your computers, afterall; you have every right to determine their terms of usage.)
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 10 years
Agreed. Password protect - it's very simple.
code-monkey code-monkey 10 years
If you don't want anyone else using your computer then you should just password protect it and set it so that it requires a password when coming back from sleep mode or a screensaver. Whenever you leave your computer have it go to sleep (or start the screensaver) and then nobody will be able to use it in your absence, roomate or otherwise. It's your computer. Your roomate has no right to use it and most schools provide computer labs for those students who do not bring their own.
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
I think the first thing you do when you move in with someone is lay ground rules, so doing so won't be a bg deal. Explain your situation and your expectation that no one in the apartment uses the computers. Say something like "I know roommates often share different things, but I am not comfortable with anyone using my computers." Then explain why and include that these are not for personal use. You could finish with "I know it may seem weird, but that is how it has to be. I promise to respect your wishes as well." Don't forget to password protect both of them as well.
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