The Ultra-Portable Workstation: Tools to Make It Happen

The goal for many tech-types is to shed the act of working from the office in place of completing our projects and goals from the comfort of our desired locations. The location, for many, may be their home while others lean toward coffee shops or even somewhere completely across the globe.

Much of the work that we tend to do in the tech fields relate to such things as data entry, marketing, ecommerce, content development, and the like. There are exceptions when you think about drafting, graphic design, video editing, and other resource intensive projects but, for the most part, we could easily accomplish what we’d do in the office the same as if we had done it at home.

The only thing we need is an ultra-portable workstation.

I would define an ultra-portable workstation as one that’s not only all-inclusive to get a project done but is relatively light-weight and easy to setup. Technically a desktop could be a portable workstation if you try hard enough but that’s not too fun lugging around the tower, now is it?

The workstation shouldn’t be too reliant on the resources from within the work environment either. Nothing will stifle your productivity more than having to wait for access to a server housed on campus.

I gave this a bit of a try one summer while I was traveling around. I planned to continue working on my projects while abroad but needed my workstation and its resources to be as flexible as possible because I never knew if I’d have full access to the Web or, often, power in general.

My ultra-portable workstation, surprisingly, came down to a few key elements:

  •  An ultrabook (for this I leaned on a Google Chromebook)
  • External backup using a Secure USB flash drive
  • SaaS services for an office suite environment along with Gmail and social media
  • Online conferencing and communication (Skype was a major player)

The Chromebook was the backbone because, obviously, it provided me with the base workstation to do writing and database management (at that time). The Chromebook did need access to the Web for most its work but even when offline there was much that could be accomplished through the offline versions of the applications.

The nice thing about these ultrabooks is that they’re inexpensive and light-weight. It would have been terrible to lose the machine or have it stolen but not nearly as bad as if I brought along a high-end laptop. It kept my mind at ease.

The external backup through the secure USB was also an item that had me at peace because I could keep the private information on my person (with added encryption with the software and physical setup). There are always times when you slip up – as easy as getting up to get a drink – and come back to your workstation being gone; this device made all the difference.

Of course, SaaS services need to be highly mentioned too. The ability to use web-based FTP and editing tools, cutting down on the intensive process that would have been placed on the machine, came as a big help. I also wouldn’t have to worry about the security and file storage since the online video editors, document processors, and image editing apps kept it all together.

Finally, keeping it all in line with the online conferencing made it oh-so-much-easier than trying to bounce back and forth international phone calls or playing email tag because you’re in an entirely new time zone. Being able to quick chat with a client, pass around files, show specs, and generally take notes about the project streamlined the process; it feels like when you do it at the office but at the same time different because you could be in the middle of nowhere, somewhere overseas.

It may be a far stretch but I think anyone with a technical skill, working from a computer, can generally find their way into working from a mobile workstation with the right angles and planning. If you can make it ultra-portable than all the better because then you have less to handle and you can easily bounce between where you want to go. The options are out there and the choices are endless – maybe you, too, will have this experience!

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