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The one thing you should never do while traveling

Taking a trip? Bringing a laptop? Save yourself a lot of grief by avoiding this common mistake.

At some point in your life, you'll take a trip. You'll bring your laptop. And you'll make a mistake that will cause you to want to throw that laptop into the swimming pool.

It'll happen like this: The movie you brought along to watch is jerky when played full-screen, so you decide to download an updated video driver.

Or you can't connect to the hotel's Wi-Fi network, so you install new Wi-Fi drivers.

Or Windows says it needs to install an update--so you let it.

And guess what happens? Something goes awry. Now your display is totally messed up. Your Wi-Fi won't work at all. Windows won't boot because of some glitch with the update.

In other words, sometime during the trip, for some reason, you'll think it's a good idea to install some kind of software update, and Murphy's Law will kick in, resulting in a hosed computer and a furious you.

Thus, the one thing you should never do while traveling is install any kind of driver or software update. Never ever. It may seem harmless, and even necessary, but resist the temptation. Your computer is working now, so why tempt fate? Leave it alone until you get home, and you've got the time and resources you need to troubleshoot any problems that may arise.

Why, yes, I am on a trip right now. And, yes, I do have my laptop. Why do you ask?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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