I recently got assigned to a new project to develop an iOS application (let's say I'm a software engineer), and the company where I am working at doesn't provide the device that I need to do this job (a mac) because they know I already have one and it is my personal device. However, they already provide me with a decent Windows laptop that I've been using since the previous project (which doesn't require a mac).

My question is, should I use my own device just because my employer doesn't provide one? If I don't wish to use my personal device, what should I ask to my employer?

  • 93
    Your device is broken...who will pay for a new device?!
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:42
  • 11
    Just to check: are you definitely an employee? I work in the UK, and I’m self-employed. Some clients I work for will supply me with a computer, but I have “my” own work computer that I use for most contracts, with an agreement about the security processes I have to follow. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:35
  • 2
    Is this for a start up? Or an established company. I work for a startup and use my own device because... well it's not like we're swimming in cash or anything, and there is no Karen from HR. But when I worked for Big Company, Inc, I would have insisted they provided the appropriate tools (and so would they! It was almost annoying, but necessary.)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about Mac vs Windows and license terms has been moved to chat. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 18:00

4 Answers 4


You should not.

There are several good reasons for this:

  1. This project will likely require you to copy sensitive information (or at least proprietary) to your personal device. That right there might be enough to get you fired, or at least place you in a situation which can later be used as an excuse to fire you. Some companies take this more seriously than others, but it's generally something you shouldn't do.

  2. They didn't provide you with the proper equipment, so you went out and got something of your own (whether you already had it or not is irrelevant). It builds a very poor expectation. For example, say that you use your own equipment, and finish the project faster than you would have using company provided equipment. The expectation in the future will be that you will deliver in that timeline, although they will provide you with nothing, and you may sell or lose your personal machine. It's a slippery slope to say the least.

  3. If at some point you decide to quit, you'll be in a situation where the company may wish to maintain possession of your machine because it contains important/sensitive information. Or they may demand that they be given access to your personal files in order to check that you're not failing to hand some piece of code over, etc. It can get ugly, trust me.

  4. You may use your personal device for all sorts of entertainment purposes, some of which may be found to be inappropriate for the workplace, etc. (watching cat videos, for example). Now say that Karen from HR happens to be walking by one day, when you're working on your personal machine, and notices something. Or some personal notification, or even malware executes when you're presenting your software, etc. It'll look really bad for you. Don't mix business and pleasure.

  5. "Ah, Potato, we have a new project we'd like you to work on. It's a Windows app. In the mean time, Joe over here will be taking over Mac development. Could you lend him your machine? You already have the dev environment set up, and all the files are there!" <- think it can't happen? Think again.

In conclusion, do the best you can with what they've given you (use an emulator, virtual machine, etc.). Talk to your boss about any equipment inadequacies, and if they're not happy with your results, or pace you can make them aware that it's due to their own decisions.

  • 24
    Another reason : security, nothing say that OP's device don't contains a malware that would go to the company's computer. If he need a development device, he need a device that has the minimal installed and no internet access more than required.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 13:20
  • 70
    @dukeling - sure, it's approved right now because it's in their interest. Wait until something goes wrong, and see what happens.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 13:23
  • 18
    Also, development, by it's very nature, may require you to say "this device is messed up beyond all help... I need to completely wipe it and start over." It's one thing to do that with a company burner, but you probably don't want to lose all your photos, contacts, music, etc. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:09
  • 9
    Please add: 6. If anything happens to the phone (e.g. it gets bricked, the screen is cracked when coworker knocks the phone down, if a bug in your code causes a provider to permanently block your phone, etc), you may lose personal files, and you may have trouble getting the company to cover repair/replacement costs, and these will happen on the company's schedule. Similarly, if any fees are incurred (accidentally or otherwise), you could be on the hook for them.
    – ikegami
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 17:05
  • 8
    There are all kinds of fun things that can happen. You connect your personal computer to the work domain. It's now part of the domain so maybe group policy gets applied (it's quite likely that it would be required for your device to join the domain per policy). Maybe you're now consenting to them being allowed to monitor and have administrative access to your machine. Maybe you have an "understanding" that you're not subject to these policies, but do you think IT has a special exemption for your machine when it pushes out a change to remove "non-essential" software. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 5:52

Although I very much agree with the accepted answer on this, I want to add a different perspective, because reality is not always black and white.

First, I want to establish that working somewhere is a - usually very well defined - business transaction. You usually trade X amount of time for Y amount of money. Now there is nothing wrong with delivering additional value (and sometimes it is even accepted standard, like hairdressers often bring their own scissors or cooks their own knives).

What you should not do, is give something away for free or allow any ambiguity to enter your contract that puts you at an disadvantage. So you can offer to bring your personal device, but you should clarify the rules and the compensation for this additional service

(can also be something like: Ok, i´ll bring my MacBook - just for this little project and just to be used by me personally. But you have to indemnify me on any complications arising from it and you sponsor this thunderbolt docking port I was always to cheap to pay for myself)

This very much depends on your relation to your employer, the task at hand and how much security considerations play a role and how sensitive the device in question is (a mac book brings more complications than, say, a hammer)

If you are not willing to provide a certain service/feature/perk, just do not agree to do it. Nobody can force you!

  • 5
    For another example, every mechanic I've ever known provides their own tools as a prerequisite to employment.
    – Steve V.
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 2:00
  • 4
    Abstractly, this does not apply here. This is because of the potentially sensitive nature developing software. There is nothing sensitive or proprietary about tools or clippers. Computers though... It is just a bad idea. I could see possibly using my own computer to develop stuff that is solely in the cloud (website stuff), but not when source code is on my computer.
    – Jeff.Clark
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 5:40
  • 2
    Not all code is sensitive. Without context, most code is even worthless - not all of us are working on the next map-reduce algorithm. Also there are ways to separate work from private even on Notebooks. (VM / Encryption / dual boot / swapping hd´s etc.). You really have do decide case-by-case!
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 8:30
  • 3
    "Without context, most code is even worthless." I agree completely, but that doesn't mean that an employer will agree too. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 11:36
  • 3
    Employers can mandate that you use e.g. cars and vans for work. Hardly as cheap or trivial as a hammer and yet having a functional vehicle that you must use for work purposes is a common condition for a job. Thing is, that'd be in a contract. It wouldn't be something that materialises as an employee requirement during employment (as in OPs situation)... one would hope. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 12:29

I find the other answers to be overly pessimistic or maybe only valid for a large company. If you are working at a small company where money doesn't fall from the trees this can be a perfectly fine thing to do, especially for a short project, if you are OK with it (you didn't state your own preference).

Bringing your own device even has advantages, as you have everything already set up to your liking. For example I'm much more comfortable with the Arch Linux on my own machine where I have admin rights then with my work machine with Suse Linux and no admin rights. Unfortunately they don't allow other computers on their network so for me it is the opposite problem of what you have.

What I did once, however, was that I got an SSD to replace the HDD on my own machine from another place as they didn't provide me a laptop at that time, so that I could get acceptable speeds, which benefited my home use as well. You may also consider dual boot. Also I ordered the same keyboard, mousepad and mouse to (1) benefit from my already existing muscle memory and (2) to avoid deteriorating it by having two different input setups.

Just send them an email where you clearly spell out the disclaimer that you won't do what @AndreiROM forsees, that do not have a same-day service contract so you cannot guarantee permanent usability of the machine, that you only use it yourself and that you cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the data (e.g. because you use the computer together with someone else).

  • 3
    the [... If I don't wish to use my personal device ...] kind of implies that OP may not be that ok with it.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:27
  • 4
    If the company can get you to provide your own PC for work, that's just the tip of the iceberg. After all, a desk and a chair don't cost as much as a PC, so why don't you buy those as well? Oh, and why don't you pay yourself, next time they think you need to go on a training course for professional development? A sensibly managed company, big or small, would have already banned this sort of thing in your employment contract IMO! FWIW in the company I work for, doing it would be grounds for instant dismissal - and nobody I know has a problem with that policy.
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:35
  • 6
    If they cannot afford the computer for it, then the project isn't profitable. Either they making money on your cost or the management doesn't have any clue what they're doing. I once worked for a company where both was the case, and I'm very happy to not work there anymore.
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 19:21
  • 2
    "money doesn't fall from the trees" - where does OP live/work? According to SO Salary Calculator mobile developer with 2 years of experience in somewhere in the middle of US (neither Silicon Valley nor NYC) makes around $74k which makes over $6k a month. Mac mini can be bought for $499 - and you can install Windows on it and use as a "regular" work computer. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 7:22
  • 1
    @StephanBranczyk I didn't mean that he spends - I didn't make that clear. The point I was trying to make was that any employer that spends at least 6 grand on employee salary every month probably could afford buying a Mac once. Cost of buying equipment is negligible compared to developer salary. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 11:53

Dont use your personal Mac computer for work projects.

It is an expensive machine, and it will not last as long being moved around. Also, you will have the extra weight and responsibility of carrying it around, and the possibility of it being robbed.

Also my Mac has a limited disk space, and installing extra software and files would inconvenience me greatly.

On this point, in the past I did this, and my MacBook Pro only lasted two years due to wear and tear, and on top of that, it was a nuisance sharing my apple id at home and at work.

  • 2
    Let me guess, the charging cable was the first item that malfunctioned? That costs $80 to replace, assuming you don't buy a knockoff cable. And the second replacement cable won't last very long either, so that's another $80 on top of that. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 0:03
  • I replaced my first macbook after 6 years so I could write iOS apps - it was using the old powerPC chip and while it still worked great it would not run the XCode required for iOS apps. I'm still using my second MacBook 8 years later with zero malfunctions or replaced parts due to failure. I've never had a cable go bad on me (half a dozen iPhones, a couple of iPads, two MacBooks, and one iMac.) My wife has had a problem with two of her cables over the last 10 years. Am I lucky? Do I just take good care of my equipment? Who knows? But I do swear by their gear.
    – CramerTV
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 0:43
  • @CramerTV Mine is 4, but I do not carry it to work. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 3:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .