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Company Laptop, My Data — Can They Co-exist? 395

An anonymous reader writes "I recently replaced my old laptop. The owner of my company heard about this and offered to reimburse me for it, since he knows I have and will continue to do company work on my own hardware. I'd like the extra $1,250, but I think if I accept his offer that legally he has the right to any data on it (personal emails, files, blog posts, etc.). Even if I decide to put my personal stuff on a second drive, I'm worried that using company property to save and write to separate storage still gives them the right to it. The apps (Office, etc.) are my own licenses. We do not have a policy that intellectual property developed using company assets belongs to the company. But, if I figured out the One Great Internet Business Idea or write the Great American Novel and used the company laptop to do it, it's an avenue they could use to claim they own it. Unlikely, but scary. How many Slashdotters have been in this situation, and what agreement did you and your management come up with?"
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Company Laptop, My Data — Can They Co-exist?

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  • Simple... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Use the laptop to remote in to your home computer and do your personal business on there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by charleste ( 537078 )

      You're using their bandwidth if you do this. Ergo, you are still using company resources. I have been in a similar situation. Nutshell solution for me? Just keep as you are, don't accept the $$. If they want you to back up your work, have them shell out for an external drive and backup the corporate work there, and only the corporate work.

      • Re:Simple... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Forge ( 2456 ) <> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:21PM (#29203479) Homepage Journal
        I confuse the issue even further. I have a company issued laptop, from which I removed the company issued hard drive and then I installed my own Hard drive (80GB -> 300GB). They can have their laptop back at any time. I only need 47 seconds notice (I timed it).

        There is well established precedence that fired employees must be given time to remove personal items from the office, company car, company apartment etc... This may have been derived from the rules governing eviction of a tenant.

        Nobody (as far as I know) has sought to apply the same rule, either to data on a company drive or a personal drive in a company computer.
        • First you need to prove it is yours (onus on you, at the spur of that moment - so tape the receipt to the drive) - to the person walking you out, with you while you grab your personal stuff. Secondly, they will want to remove any company from the drive, and won't take your word for it that there ain't none. So the now pissed off IT slave will scrape through your personal stuff anyway...

          Many companies sort out what's yours and theirs after walking you out, so you're short on luck in that scenario.

        • Re:Simple... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:22PM (#29204401) Journal

          >>>There is well established precedence that fired employees must be given time to remove personal items from the office, company car, company apartment etc.

          Is there? When my contract expired a year ago, General Dynamics didn't even let me inside the building. Instead they carried everything out to me, and as it turned-out some items were missing, like the award I got from my previous employer Lockheed. They even went so far as to keep my music CDs and MAIL them back to me "after they were scanned" one week later. I threatened to call the local police, but it had no effect to change their minds.

          Perhaps you better rethink your plan, because you might NOT get a chance to reclaim your personal hard drive from your desk (or wherever you store it).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Sorry, our network policy forbid this, and our firewall blocks most outgoing ports besides the basics.
      Sure, I could tunnel it through port 80, but at that point, I literally provide my employer with a reason to fire me if I do anything to piss them off.
      No Thanks.
      • Re:Simple... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:29PM (#29204511) Journal

        Good advice. Most places don't let you access the outside world except via the HTML browser.

        I would take the ~$1300 if my boss wants to reimburse me for my laptop. I never turn-down money, and realistically I'm just an average schlub like everyone else. I'm NOT going to write the next great american novel. I'd just make sure that if I have any personal data, like pics of my kids, to offload it onto my home PC or a separate USB drive.

        And of course keep silent. The boss doesn't need to know everything I type into his laptop. If I create a PS3 emulator, he doesn't need to know about it. Just offload it to my home PC and he'll never know it existed.

  • by Binestar ( 28861 ) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:27AM (#29202413) Homepage
    If they just want to reward you for working on your own hardware, a bonus is the way to go.
    • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:41AM (#29202715) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. We've done this at my company. Take the laptop or cash as part of compensation and there will be no legal issues because it will become a personal possession and not the company's. Get it in writing so there's no debate.

      In the poster's particular case, receive the $1250 as a simple bonus. Have them write a letter backing that up.

      • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:18PM (#29203441) Journal
        "I recently replaced my old laptop. The owner of my company heard about this and offered to reimburse me for it, since he knows I have and will continue to do company work on my own hardware. I'd like the extra $1,250, but I think if I accept his offer that legally he has the right to any data on it "

        No, why did you think that? They didn't buy the laptop for you and hand it to you and say "this is your company laptop", you bought a laptop yourself, put all of your own software and hardware into it, and the company offered to reimburse you for it. Did they say "this is now our laptop, and when/if you leave it's ours"? I'd get it in writing just to make sure, I could see that as being a potential problem, especially if they document it somewhere "reimburse XYZ for laptop", someone might come looking for it someday.

        "receive the $1250 as a simple bonus. Have them write a letter backing that up."

        Agreed. Helps the company really because they don't have to pay for the software or worry about licensing, if you have unlicensed software on there they can say "Really? We wouldn't know, it's not company property."

        In fact I'd approach it like that, I'd tell'em "Hey Boss just to make the paperwork easier so you don't have to keep track of the Office, Vista, Photoshop, etc licenses on my laptop can we write it up as a $1250 bonus? That way there isn't a $1250 check for a laptop and the company would not be responsible for keeping track of the software licenses."
    • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:41AM (#29202725)

      Exactly. Your company has three options.

      1. A payment in the amount of the computer. It goes not your income taxes as a bonus.
      2. They transfer ownershhip to you. It goes on your income taxes as non-cash compensation for the value of the computer. It is your property afterwards; they can't take it back when you quit.
      3. They issue you a company laptop. It remains their property; if you quit, you have to return it.

      For 1 and 2, the computer is yours, and you can do whatever you like. Just like your car and your TV, which were purchased with money from your paycheck. The company has no say in what you do with the computer afterwards. You could even immediately sell them on eBay (though they'd probably be unhappy and demand the money back, and might fire you if you refused to pay them.)

      For 3, you shouldn't do anything personal on it, nor should you install any of your own licensed software on it..

      • nor should you install any of your own licensed software on it..

        Why? Other than privacy, which you shouldn't count on with your company laptop, I can't really see an issue. The only thing might be a policy to disallow this, but his employer doesn't sound like care that much.

        Is there some legal issue I can't understand? Installation of a program on a company laptop would not imply transfer of ownership/license and I would think the company would be responsible to remove the software once it is returned to the IT dept, freeing up your license (although I would proba

      • by operator_error ( 1363139 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:25PM (#29203559)

        #4, Why not use a USB stick as a complete Ubuntu workstation? Here are instructions to make a stick that will either run in a QEMU window on a host Windows OS, _or_ you can simply boot-up directly into Ubuntu? []

        So you can have your cake and eat it too. During work hours, just insert your USB stick when you need access to your own PC.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sandbags ( 964742 )

          ...not in our company :) All USB boot options are firmware disabled, as well as booting from any CDs. If the default specified HDD doesn't boot, someone from support with a BIOS password has to get in and reset the machine to enable this, and the BIOS settings are editable by a software app from within windows to re-disable this feature once an image is installed.

          on many systems across the company, the USB ports are disabled entirely. generally, only execs and select machines in the suppoort areas have U

        • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @04:46PM (#29207841) Homepage Journal

          #4, Why not use a USB stick as a complete Ubuntu workstation?

          Where the OS is loaded from or where data gets saved is irrelevant. If the company's position is that it owns the laptop, and an employee uses it to create something, the company can reasonably argue in court that it owns the created work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      That means it's taxable. If they make it an expenses item, then it isn't[1]. If you are using it for 80% work and 20% personal use then you can probably either get them to pay 80% of it under expenses or you can just offset 80% of the cost against tax. Alternatively, the company could buy the laptop and then lease and finally sell it to you for a nominal fee (say, $1/year with the option to buy for $1 after the first year).

      [1] I am not an accountant, this varies depending on jurisdiction, for your juris

    • An easier solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:01PM (#29203133)
      Take the check for $1,250 and use it to buy a new laptop. You get a free laptop that you use for work-only, and keep the other one for personal stuff. I call that the best of both worlds.
  • by goffster ( 1104287 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:27AM (#29202417)

    Use online web stuff.

  • Easy Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:27AM (#29202421) Journal

    Unlikely, but scary.

    Your fears are not unfounded. As someone who has had "e-mail forensics" done on his company's MS Exchange during an investigation of a coworker, I can assure you that while it may not be something that you've done to trigger this it does happen. And nobody wants to be in a compromising position should their relationship with their employer goes bad.

    So your solution is simple: send him an e-mail explaining that this new laptop is going to function as your main personal laptop with family photos and videos and whatnot. Tell him that you'd love to accept the $1,250 as an award or included with your next paycheck as special compensation but the laptop won't be inventoried or tagged by the company. Make it clear it's your property and not a company asset. Offer to bring in the invoice for him to look at if he's concerned you're buying a car with it instead and get it in writing. If you get the money awarded to you to do with as you see fit but you have an informal agreement that this will go toward your personal laptop, everything should be fine.

    • Unlikely, but scary.

      Your fears are not unfounded.

      What he said!

      I do not even let the company pay for my cell phone. Just make sure my paycheck covers what I do for the company.

    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Cowar ( 1608865 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:43AM (#29202761)
      Speaking as someone with experience in the digital forensics field (and I have personally done far more than e-mail forensics mentioned above), if the courts find out that you do company work on your personal laptop, you are a subpoena away from having to produce it, with or without the $1,250 bonus. If you brought a personal external hard drive into work one day and someone saw you use it, you could have to produce that. Depending on how good your lawyer is compared to theirs, you may be able to have your personal items undergo a privilege process, but that doesn't mean that some forensics expert isn't going to be taking a complete copy of your hard drive and presenting findings about (but not the actual relevant data until approved or ordered by the courts) your laptop usage.

      Essentially if you get sued by your employer, it looks better if you just spread em wide and hope for the vaseline. There is no 'innocent until proven guilty' in civil courts, it's all about the 'preponderance of evidence' which means that if you can't say more about your innocence than they can about you're guilt, you're guilty.
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:54AM (#29202975)

      So your solution is simple:

      Yes, it is. However, I'd offer that the solution is different than what you suggest. The simplest thing to do would be, have your employer buy you ANOTHER $1250 laptop expressly for work. Problem solved. Now you have an "air gap" between your life, and work life.

      Why complicate things?

  • No, it cannot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:28AM (#29202427)

    If there's doubt, then you cannot.

  • That's easy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by nighty5 ( 615965 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:29AM (#29202455)
  • Easy (Score:3, Informative)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:29AM (#29202459) Journal

    Don't do it.

  • Don't do it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wont even allow my company to reimburse me for flash drives for this reason. It's way better to be safe when it comes to your personal data.

  • And how would your company know you used the laptop do to X, Y, or Z? If its on your own time and if the laptop is devoid of big-brother-like apps, I fail to see how they could even begin to make a claim for it.
    • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:40AM (#29202711) Journal

      Aren't they cute when they are young and so naïve?

    • As the creator of the Melissa virus can attest, Office tags its documents with an ID that can be used as a tracer. The OP's "Great American Novel" would, I imagine, be written in Word. []

      Still, it would be a real scumbag thing to do. Especially if the correct agreements are vague or nonexistent, not to mention if the OP's work is not related whatsoever to the product in question.

      But really, what could possibly happen in the legal world that would surprise a
      • Office tags its documents with an ID that can be used as a tracer.

        Except - the copy of Office that the OP is using is *his own copy*. Ownership of the app is not at question here, only the laptop.

        • Which could get him in deeper trouble since a copy of Office is tied to a machine. If that license is on the contested machine and he claims that he created the work on another machine, he has admitted to pirating Office, correct?
  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:31AM (#29202509) Homepage

    You need to ask a lawyer. His answer will depend, at least in part, on documents you have signed as part of your employment, and on state law.

    Personally, I know my company is too confused to ever go after me, my data, and my ideas after I leave, so long as I don't compete directly with them. I don't worry about their supposed ownership of my every thought and dream, despite signing those rights over to them.

  • Sounds like a good argument for cloud computing. My gmail account stays off my company laptop except for the browser cache which can easily be cleared. I think they would have a hard time proving I crafted a genius email using the browser on their laptop.

  • I was always warned about working on personal projects using work equipment. I was told that my company can claim the project as their own since I used their equipment to develop it, which sounds plausible. Where or not it's really true is another matter.

    Or was it that I shouldn't be working on personal projects during work time?

  • When you are 'done' with your job you can either delete the VM or move it to your personal computer.

    Clean, easy.

  • He may just have access to it anyhow, in which case..take the money and run.

  • Don't do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:35AM (#29202597)

    Do everything in your power to keep your data and theirs separate. In fact I'd even recommend you stop doing their work on your hardware.

    If they want to provide you with a company machine then let them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 )

      That's the policy we adopted. As a rule it was decided that you don't work from home - even a remote connection to the work machine was decided as a no-go, despite the obvious advantages it would have (I've had several time I've gotten a call saying "The email is down" - when I drove 30 minutes to the office to do 2 minutes worth of work and then drive back home). Being in government work, it was decided that if the IT staff had remote access to work systems, that it could legally open us up to FOIA reque

  • Seriously, things COULD turn nasty and then this goes to court. He is most likely trying to be nice, but if you are doing side work and want the right to keep that separate, then you should do so. I do recommend that you keep HIS work on a separate disk. He may also insist that you do work only under his licenses, etc (protect himself). If so, consider xen, or vmware and run a virtual system for HIS stuff.
  • Many companies give employees an allowance to cover the expense of using their own car for business. Tell your boss you want this done the same way.

  • At my previous company, we went the other personal equipment was allowed. If you needed a tool (e.g. a laptop), it was provided.

    We didn't want the liability of damage or theft of someone's personal equipment. Further, we didn't want to deal with things like users bringing in tools that impact the network, we didn't want to have any issues with software licensing (who provides or you bring in non-licensed software), etc. We also had problems with people bringing in things like printers and

  • It creates an expectation that you will provide your own tools in every circumstance, and you shouldn't be subsidizing your company in any case. Create a line between your personal and business life or you will find that your personal life will erode away. That isn't fair to you or those in your personal life. No matter how much you love your job, it's still just a job at the end of the day. Don't be a sucker.

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:36AM (#29202621)

    Nothing to it.

    Depending on the tax code where you live, something like this might be required anyway, as it'll be seen as either payment or benefits.

    So - go all out. Either have him add the cost of your laptop to your pay check as a one time bonus (bring a copy of the receipt so they can see the price), or have them buy the laptop and give it to you as a gift along with papers showing that it is indeed your laptop and not the company's.

    Personally I'd prefer the one time bonus. I'm buying the laptop anyway, I need it, and I'm effectively getting a company sponsored discount with none of the drawbacks.

  • by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:36AM (#29202629) Journal

    Why not take the $1250, buy a second, identical laptop for personal use and set up an external drive that you could use to sync files between the two if necessary (or even a shared drive for professional purposes)?

    If you go this route, make sure you never accidentally put personal stuff on the professional laptop.

    • Why not just skip the hassle of two laptops, not take the money, and use your laptop for work anyway? The biggest issue he has is IF they pay for it, he might have problems with personal data. If it's his laptop, ie. doesn't take the cash, then there is no issue...
  • Ask your employer to give it as a bonus. That way, you get your $1250 and he gets to pay for your laptop in a roundabout way. He won't be explicitly paying for the laptop, just giving you some extra cash which you "could" put towards the laptop. However, you might want to ask for a bit more as a bonus will be considered income and be taxable. If you want to keep the machine if/when you leave, getting reimbursed probably wouldn't work. If they pay for it, they'll probably want it back after you leave. Same
  • Ask for the "reimbursement" to be made in the form of a bonus so it's clear who owns the laptop - what you do with your bonus is your business. Yes, you'll have to pay taxes on it (I assume your tax laws count a bonus as income) but that's cheaper than the full price of the laptop and now it's yours, without question.

    So long as there's 1) no contract to spell things out clearly and 2) the computer is "theirs", there will always be the risk of someone claiming the data on it is owned by them, not you. You
  • I have and will continue to do company work on my own hardware ...

    There's your problem.

    Tell your employer they can have it one of two ways: either (a) provide you enough hardware to do your job, or (b) the contents of your laptop of yours, not theirs. Any other approach leads to trouble with sorting out who has copyright on what that will cost them far more than $1250 in legal expenses.

  • Make a Truecrypt folder, ideally 4GBish so can be backed up onto a DVD.

    Now setup your Thunderbird email profile on the Truecrypt folder ("Thunderbird -profilemanager" allows you setup a new TB profile), and ditto for Firefox profile. Note that Thunderbird and Firefox programs are still installed on machine per normal, it's just the profiles that a separate.

    Now your private stuff is private...

  • Subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:40AM (#29202699) Homepage

    I think the real question is why you're asking Slashdot instead of sitting down with your boss and hashing these issues out directly.

  • in the past, and so far have been pretty lucky. What I wound up doing was encrypting a partition with TrueCrypt and keeping all my personal stuff on it... that way if I ever DID get burned there's not much the company could do in terms of using said data. I realize this isn't 100% fool proof, but I think it's prolly good enough.
  • by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:41AM (#29202727)

    But, if I figured out the One Great Internet Business Idea or write the Great American Novel and used the company laptop to do it, it's an avenue they could use to claim they own it.

    I don't know what Company you work for, but MOST companies force you to sign a contract at time of employment that basically claims that anything you create while you are employed by the company is legally theirs. Any code you write, any works you produce they could technically sue you for if you suddenly turned around and actually made a decent bit of money off of them. Yes, this includes things you write in the middle of the night on a weekend on your personal computer.

    Does this mean they're going to try and claim your profits at the Church Arts and Crafts fair or try and claim they own the game you sell for $2 on your website? No. But they do this for several reasons. One is to protect their own asses... while you're busy coding at Adobe for their Great New Photoshop, you can't go home and use the ideas, even those YOU came up with at work, to create "Joe's Photomall" and suddenly turn around and start undercutting photoshop. Another reason is pure greed... if you suddenly have this great idea and write a 5kb Operating System that runs everything, it's THEIR great idea if you actually coded it while you were employed under them and _they_ get the rights to it, not you.

    Yes, there have been cases where this has come up, and it is usually up to the (ex)employee to prove that they created the code or whatever either before or after they were under employment.

    Just an FYI... I would check up on your contracts if you think this may be a problem.

    • MOST companies force you to sign a contract at time of employment that basically claims that anything you create while you are employed by the company is legally theirs.

      These aren't always enforceable, and I certainly never signed one.

      One is to protect their own asses... while you're busy coding at Adobe for their Great New Photoshop, you can't go home and use the ideas, even those YOU came up with at work, to create "Joe's Photomall" and suddenly turn around and start undercutting photoshop.

      Then they should put a noncompete clause in -- which still isn't always enforceable.

      In any case, this is why I read the more important contracts (like employment), and strike the stuff I don't agree with.

    • I wouldn't say most companies do that. My company's policy states that anything I create that is work related is their property, which is reasonable. However, if I do something that is not related to work at all, such as create a new invention not related to my companies business, or write a novel, then it is my property.
  • Your company owner sounds like a good person, offering to reimburse your purchase. It sounds like he surprised you and now you're trying to decide whether you want to retain ownership of the laptop or sign it over to the company.

    For the company owner, it would be a no brainer because he owns the company that would own the equipment. For you, there are more questions about relinquishing ownership.

    1) Will you have to return the laptop if you leave the company?
    2) Will the company's IT staff have to maintain th

  • Business and pleasure don't mix. Have your boss buy you a laptop which you only use for work-related purposes.

  • Why are you using your personal property to do work for your job in the first place? Your post sounds like you've worn out your own laptop working for your boss and now you have to replace it? Not smart. He should replace it, yes -- but then he should also provide another one, if necessary, for company business, and never the twain shall meet. Now go forth, and transgress no more, grasshopper!
  • Encrypt everything.

  • I'd say let them reimburse you for the laptop, then take the $1250 and grab another one (or a really nice netbook and pocket the change) for personal use. If you leave the company and they ask for the laptop, oh well. If they don't, you have an extra laptop. If you insist on having personal data on a machine used for work, then use truecrypt for your personal files.

    A netbook wouldn't add much weight to your bag either.

    That's my opinion. I'm stuck using my personal laptop as my employer won't cover one b

  • Loan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ForexCoder ( 1208982 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @11:46AM (#29202825)
    Set it up as a loan from the company to purchase the laptop, payable over x months. If you leave before x months, you owe the remainder, if you stay the full x months, you don't have to repay it. That way the laptop is yours, not the companies.
  • Why not take the money and use it to buy a new laptop exclusively for work? Is it critical to have a single laptop that you use for work and personal use?

    If it's more convenient to use your work laptop for personal use, but only on occasion, you can always copy your files to your personal computer when you're able and then use a program like Eraser to clean up your work drive.
  • recently replaced my old laptop. The owner of my company heard about this and offered to reimburse me for it, since he knows I have and will continue to do company work on my own hardware. I'd like the extra $1,250, but I think if I accept his offer that legally he has the right to any data on it (personal emails, files, blog posts, etc.)

    If you total or wear out your personal car because of your work, and your employer offers to pay for the replacement, he doesn't magically get title to it. He *replaced*

  • by tirk ( 655692 )
    I work from home for a company that isn't in my state, but I also do independent work and have my own small company. I don't want a seperate machine for each place, so for my main employer, I have a monthly stipend added to my pay for the use of personal computers, printers, office supplies, etc. This way I still own the equipment, but I also get some money for it's wear and tear, etc. Of course this means I pay for repairs and supplies out of pocket when they are needed, but over time it evens out.
  • I wouldn't do it. Do anything the boss is interested in (stealth startup perhaps?)... and they will try to claim rights on the data and make a huge mess. Boss suspicious your moonlighting, doing anything that violates company policy (selling trade secrets).... again will try to claim rights. Will end up in court in front of a judge who couldn't turn on a computer himself and it will be corporate lawyers vs. whatever you can afford. Not to mention if the company goes under... will creditors assessing wha
  • NO! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:00PM (#29203113)

    Do -not- use personal equipment for company use.

    Okay, I admit I do it. I have a $20 keyboard and $15 mouse that I brought in. But if something happened and I never saw them again, 'oh well'. They don't store any data, and they have no value other than their replacement value.

    A laptop? Are you insane!?

    Take the $1250, the company now owns the laptop. Do your personal stuff on a computer you actually own.


  • Then use the money to buy yourself another laptop, so you can use it exclusively for personal stuff and the company-reimbursed one for work purposes.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:08PM (#29203271)

    If he gives you money to buy the PC, who does it belong to? If it is yours, then they have no say on it. If it is theirs, then they might have a say in it.
    Ask HIM what the situation is by email. That way you have a trace if anything goes sour in two years or so. The worst that can happen is that he decides that it is THEIR machine. At least then you know what the situation is.

    I would think that if they are willing to give you that amount of money, they will also be willing to answer any questions you have about it.

    A solution depends also on what rights you have on that PC. If you have admin rights, you could use encryption. As it is a Portable, you could use encryption anyway. That way when you loose the machine or it is stolen, the company data is secure as well.

    Make either a separate encrypted partition for yourself or use the hidden part of Truecrypt for your own files. That way you can even give the sysadmin of the company the login, in case you are hit by a bus.
    That way your data is secure and private, while the companies is secure as well.

    If you do not have the admin rights (and don't want to hack them) then an external drive and/or USB stick can be the answer. e.g. at home an external drive for everything and a USB stick for on the road.

  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:11PM (#29203309)
    Thank the boss for the offer, but make it clear that you don't want to blur the lines of ownership regarding your laptop and the associated software licenses. Suggest that, if he still wants to compensate you for all you do using your personal equipment on your own time, if he would consider making the payment a one-time cash bonus. That way, the payment is associated with wages and cannot be construed as being an employer reimbursement for business equipment to be used at home.
  • by snspdaarf ( 1314399 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @12:21PM (#29203481)
    I was going to buy a cell phone, from a carrier that had better coverage in the areas I frequented than the cell phones provided by the company. As they were getting ready to get another cell phone anyway, I asked that the one assigned to me be reassigned, and that if I used my new personal phone for business they pay for those minutes or give me a stipend for phone use. Instead, they bought me a phone of the type and carrier I wanted, and said they would rather pay for personal calls than to hassle with the paperwork the stipend or reimbursement of the calls. It worked fine for years, then one day they called me in and said pack up and get out, hand over the keys and your phone. There was no time to pull off my phone list, or delete any text messages. I had some of the numbers in other places, but not all of them. And, I had to quickly go out and get a new phone and update everyone with the new number. Now, I carry two phones, one is mine,. one is theirs, and business and personal never combine. I would do the same with the laptop. But, I would make them buy the laptop, not take the money and buy one with it. That way there is no doubt which machine is theirs.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:41PM (#29204673) Homepage

    If you're really doing something of value on your own, be very serious about keeping your own work and your employer's work separate. When I did this, the work I was doing at home was on a different kind of computer than I used at work, in a different subject area. I even used a different color of scratch pad for my own work (yellow for the employer, green for my own work). For the employer's work, I used blue pens; for my own work, black pens of a different brand. No paper or media associated with my own work ever entered the employer's premises.

    This is a hassle. It is far less hassle than the litigation required to untangle things if you succeed at what you're doing.

    It worked out very well for me, and I was able to retire before I was 40.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp