BYOD: it’s the no longer a buzzword describing a fleeting trend but an enduring reality of most offices. Nearly 60 percent of all organizations have a Bring Your Own Device policy that requires its employees show up with a Mac, iPad, or phone of their choosing. If you’re expected to power up your own tech under the office’s harsh fluorescent lights, you have a big task ahead.Finding equipment that fits both your career and finances is hard. Here’s a list of simple dos and don’ts that will help ease your task, so you can find the tech you need without busting your budget.

Do be prepared to splurge intelligently

Everybody wants a deal when they’re shopping for expensive tech. While this is a smart way to protect your budget, it can lead you to buy the least effective model for your needs just because it fits an arbitrary number in your head.

Having a budget is one thing, but knowing when to bend the rules will help you find the equipment you need. A good rule of thumb is to splurge on the tech you know you’ll use everyday—both at work and when you take it home for the night. If you expect to be using your MacBook eight hours a day at the office and then another four when you get home, don’t opt for the cheapest model just because it’s affordable. It will break down sooner and then you’ll have to buy another laptop. Consider upgrading to the more expensive Pro Retina if it’s something that you’ll use.

At $6,699, the MacBook Pro with the highest spec configuration is a lot of money to drop all at once. A trick to figuring out its true value is to think of its cost per hour or per day for every year you expect to commute with your Mac. The average Mac lasts about five years. With this life expectancy, your Mac would cost roughly $5for each 8-hour workday. This kind of cost breakdown makes it easier to choose your equipment freely.

Don’t Overstress Specs

Next to price, the list of specs is your greatest focus. It’s easy to lose sight of what you actually need when you’re scrolling through endless lists of performance data, RAM capabilities, and chip information. Manufacturers like Apple make it even harder to see through the spec for the real gadget when they debut new Macs and iPhones during impressive keynotes, highlighting these details with buzzworthy language.

You need to come up for air once in awhile. While a brand new six-core Intel Core i9 CPU clocked at 2.9GHz sounds impressive, it may not be a make-or-break spec for your daily workday. Look for the bigger picture when shopping for equipment and try to anticipate whether a model will fit your daily needs.

Do Consider refurbished tech

When BYOD is foisted upon you by management and not because you want to bring your own Mac to work every day, the financial burden of this policy can be a challenge to bear. High-performing Macs, iPads, and other tech tend to be expensive regardless of what make or model you pick.

You can ease some of the financial pressure off your wallet by shopping from refurbished Macs. Though they’re priced much lower than new Macs straight from Apple HQ, their cost is almost the only way in which they differ. Apple puts all of its refurbished tech through rigorous testing to guarantee it meets their performance standards. They even offer one-year warranties to prove these refurbished items match factory specifications.

Though they may show some cosmetic damages (like a scuff from the previous owner), ultimately refurbished gadgets work just as good as new ones. The trick is to purchase them from trusted manufacturers that offer guarantees, like Apple, over strangers on Craigslist. This way you can ensure they’ve been properly wiped and serviced.

Don’t Skip a skin

Though there’s no shame in bringing in a refurbished MacBook Pro Retina to the office, you might not be proud to show off your “new-to-you” laptop if it sports a lot of scuffs and scrapes. A MacBook skin can hide these minor damages from prying eyes and make your laptop look sleek and sophisticated. A company like dbrand makes specific skins for each model of Mac to provide the best fit possible with no added bulk, so you’ll still be able to slip it into your briefcase with ease. MacBook skins also come with their own guarantee, including scratch-free and grime resistant skins that boost the natural grip of this slippery tech.

Far from a simple Band-Aid to cover the worst damage, MacBook skins come in a bunch of cool textures. If you don’t stand for uncustomized MacBooks, then the latest black matrix, dragon skin, or carbon fiber MacBook skins can help you stand out in an office of black and silver laptops.

Do Think about storage

When your Mac pulls double duty as an office mate and your go-to laptop at home, your hard drive will fill up quickly. This is especially true if you deal with design-heavy programs or you enjoy downloading a lot of games and movies in your off time. A hard drive that has reached its max slows down an otherwise lightning-fast computer — and will negate all the time and effort you put into finding a powerhouse Mac.

You can avoid this from happening by thinking seriously about a high-capacity external hard drive that works with your Mac. Depending on your budget and your storage needs, you can find convenient hard drives that offer up to three terabytes of space. Alternatively, you can invest in online cloud-based storage services like Google and DropBox. Both offer starter profiles for free with minimal storage capacity. For those byte-hoarders, you can opt into a yearly subscription for a larger storage space.

An external hard drive backs up your files in case something catastrophic goes with your on-board hard drive, too. After putting in all this effort to find a Mac that fits both your workload and your budget, the last thing you want to do is lose precious data over a black screen of death.

But the chances of that happening are slim, right? Don’t let the stress of BYOD responsibility get you down. You can survive it and any black screen of death as long as you keep these simple dos and don’ts in mind.

Incredible Planet Staff

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