SJC Laptop Safety: Docking & Undocking

Many faculty and staff who are accustomed to having a desktop computer may find the transition to a laptop slightly challenging; especially when provided a docking station, monitor(s), and other peripherals that allow them to retain that “desktop feel” when working in the office. Making the change to a laptop and docking station carries many benefits for instructors (such as being able to take their machine to classes); however, it requires the user to adopt new usage techniques they may be unfamiliar with.

One of the more common areas a user has to adapt to is docking and undocking their laptop. With a desktop computer, all that’s required to get started is simply pushing the power button; however, with a laptop, users must learn the proper procedure for docking, powering on, and undocking their laptop. If not done properly, users can experience a variety of issues; such as a distorted or missing monitor display, missing network drives/internet access, or even damaged equipment.

The good news is that by adopting a couple of simple strategies, a user can easily ensure proper docking/undocking and minimize the number of issues they encounter.

Dock/Undock your laptop while it is turned off.
The most common issue a user will find when docking/undocking while the laptop is powered on is a missing or distorted display. This occurs because Windows tries to immediately adjust the display settings between your laptop monitor and your station monitors. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work and may result in incorrect resolution settings or even a blank screen.

Other issues can arise as well. For example, if you dock your laptop while it is on, you may find that your College network drives are missing or that you are unable to access the internet. Some users may even be presented with the blue screen of death, which requires a reboot in order to continue. This can be extremely troublesome; especially if you were in the middle of working on an important document.

Exercise Care and Check the Lock Switch
When docking/undocking a laptop, you have to be mindful of two things: the locking switch and handling the laptop.

The locking mechanism on a docking station will prevent you from docking or undocking a laptop. If you aren’t careful as to whether or not it is engaged and try to force the laptop into place, you can damage the docking station as well as the laptop. The downside is that it doesn’t take much to do some costly damage. Always be sure to check that the locking mechanism is disengaged before attempting to dock/undock your laptop.

You should also make sure you are properly lining up the laptop when docking. Using two hands center the laptop on the docking station (this is typically the best way to line up the laptop with the docking station connectors) and push slightly. A small push and a simple click should be all there is to let you know that the laptop is docked. Once docked, don’t move the laptop or the docking station around as doing so can also cause damage to the equipment.

For more information on proper handling of your laptop’s docking station, please check out these resources:

Dell E-Port Docking Station User Guide
Dell E-Port Docking Station Lock Switch Overview
Dell E-Port Plus Docking Station User Guide
Dell E-Port Plus Docking Station Lock Switch Overview

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