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How to Secure Your Dorm Room

From cameras to surge protectors, we’ve narrowed down the six best gadgets to help you ramp up security for your dorm room life.
Written by | Updated September 1, 2020
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Last Updated: 1 month ago
Be ready for anything on campus this year. We've updated our 9 easy ways to stay safe on your college campus with tips for safety during the global pandemic.

College is the time of all-nighters, parties, and the newfound freedom of finally being on your own. But it’s also the age of the casual “open-door” policy—making you vulnerable to theft. 

And during COVID-19 you’re going to be restricted to your dorm room more than normal, which could give sticky fingers more opportunity to grab your valuables.

You spend thousands on textbooks, a laptop, and other home essentials, so don’t let your guard down on protecting them. As technology advances, home automation and smart security aren’t just for your parents’ house.

Up your college dorm game with these six items that score high marks for both safety and convenience.

Reinforce your room

From cameras to surge protectors, we’ve narrowed down the six best gadgets to help you ramp up security for your residential life.

We’ve specifically sought out budget-friendly tools and resources to help meet practically any college life budget. 

Best safe for a dorm room

Dorm Essentials Vault
Grey and orange dorm safe open, demonstrating what it can hold

As a general rule, you’ll want to keep your most prized possessions at home (like Grandma’s pearls that you wear twice a year).

But there are some things, like prescription medication, you need to have with you in college—and this is where a dorm room safe comes in.

Specifically designed to meet the needs of dorm life, the Dorm Essentials Vault ups the ante of dorm room security with its sleek, narrow design for small spaces.

Pros

  • Super secure
    On top of an exterior lock, this safe also has a built-in bracket and a security cable. This makes it easy to secure it to a wall, bed frame, or any other immovable surface.
  • Designed for dorm life 
    This safe is good looking and it comes with adjustable trays that let you customize your storage depending on what you want to protect. There’s room for a tablet, cash, jewelry, documents like your passport, medication, and anything else you want to lock down.

Cons

  • Too small for a laptop
    Because most college students rely on a laptop (not a tablet) the small size means you’ll have to buy an extra security tool to protect your computer. But this safe is under $40, so there’s extra room in the budget for a laptop lock.

Best security cam for a dorm room

Wyze Security Cam

Between your roommate, your RA, and other people coming and going through your room, you’ll want to keep an eye on all that foot traffic.

For just $20, you can outfit your dorm with this state-of-the-art smart security camera. Wyze’s live stream features, time lapse recordings, and 8x digital zoom give you a visual on everything—all from your smartphone.

Pros

  • Convenient alerts
    Wyze sends notifications to your smartphone when motion is detected. So if you and your roommate are at an off-campus party and aren’t expecting anybody to come through your room, you can be on top of something fishy in a matter of seconds.
  • Stylish design
  • Best of all? Its sleek, white design won’t disrupt the Pinterest-inspired aesthetic of your room.  

Cons

  • Data security concerns
    Wyze automatically uploads your videos to its secure cloud, but some reviewers report that their recordings have been sent through unauthorized servers.

Best laptop lock for a dorm room

Kensington Laptop Lock
image of Kensington laptop lock

There are some places you just don’t want to take your laptop—like to the restroom. 

With this cable lock you can secure your laptop anywhere, whether you’re in the library or settling in for the night with roomies that keep a steady stream of visitors coming and going into the wee hours.

Pros

  • Top-rated
    A best-seller, the Kensington has great reviews and is an “Amazon’s Choice” for laptop locks.
  • Practical
    College students and traveling professionals alike rave about its sturdy 6-foot cable, which makes it easy to secure almost anywhere.

Cons

  • Incompatible with some laptops
    FYI, this lock may not work with 2016 or newer Dell laptops and tablets, including some Latitude, Venue, XPS, and Chromebook 13 models. Depending on what kind of laptop you have, you may need an attachment device for the Kensington.

Pro Tip

Most schools have free property registration programs where you can register the serial numbers of your electronics or other pricey belongings (like a bicycle) so that if someone recovers a stolen item, you can easily identify it as yours.

More ways to secure your dorm room

Although things like safes and laptop locks are obvious safeguards, here are some surprising gadgets that help protect against campus theft and keep you safe.

Tracking gadget
With so many people passing through your dorm or hallway, you’ll want to keep track of your computer, tablet, or other valuables that might get lost in the bustle.

Simply attach a tag to the items you want to track, and the Tile tracker will use Bluetooth technology to keep track of everything from your keys to your phone. (This is also nice if you’re constantly on the go and often lose things).  

Smart plug 
If you ran off to class in a hurry and realized you left your flat iron plugged in, you can turn it off straight from your smartphone with a WeMo mini smart plug.

For around $20, the WeMo switch turns any electronic device into a smart device. It can be plugged into almost any outlet and controlled from anywhere you are.

As a student, you should be constantly saving and backing up important files and documents in case your laptop gets stolen (or it breaks).

Power surge protectors
Power surge protectors are the best way to protect devices or appliances from surges or blowouts—which can be likely occurrences in some of those older, outdated dorms.

Spend the extra $12 on a power surge protector so you don’t fry your expensive laptop charger.

FAQ

Do most residence halls have security cameras?

It depends, though most usually have some on the exterior. Whatever the case may be, having a security camera in your room can help you pinpoint who stole something in the event it happens—which can help you find it.

If I’m good about keeping my room locked, do I still need a safe?

No matter how good you are at locking up after you leave, the people you live with may not be. Most schools offer safe rentals, but since keeping your belongings in a safe isn’t limited to just your time on campus, investing in a reliable safe for future years isn’t a bad idea.

Also, cleaning crews and maintenance workers often come through during winter/spring break, so it’s best to play things on the safe side.

What can I do if I can’t afford to buy products to keep my things safe?

If you can’t afford high-tech security products, there are many commonsense tactics you can use to protect yourself for free.

For starters, never give away your key or student ID card, and be sure to always lock the door to your room. If your roommate forgot their key but isn’t coming home until you’re sound asleep, don’t leave the door unlocked for them—it’s much safer to wake up to let them in.

Written by Andrea Harvey

Andréa is passionate about community advocacy. Before joining our team, she studied journalism at the University of Oregon and worked at local newspapers like Salt Lake City Weekly and the Ogden Standard-Examiner. As an Outreach Strategist, she helps SafeWise reach new communities nationwide with data-driven safety campaigns and educational resources. Learn more

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