You have taken the vital steps to backup your data either to a local drive or to an external service. Many of you do both. What have you done to secure your data? Using an automatic backup program, such as DataSafe, makes it easy to automatically backup your data, but it does nothing to secure the backed up files from prying eyes. Using a program such as Cobian, that uses data encryption, is a great first step. However, an additional step should be taken to further protect private information.
Use passwords to access your financial information. Most financial software titles, such as QuickBooks and Quicken, have password capabilities. Even if the data files were copied, they could not be accessed without the password. What about Word documents and Excel spreadsheets or workbooks?
Microsoft Office 2010 has an option that allows you to either create a password to view the file or to make changes to the file. The level of security is your choice, however, private data should be kept that way using the former.
To do this, click on File and then, if not already open, click on Info and then Protect Document. There you have several protection options. Write down any passwords you create and store them in a safe place. Rotating your passwords is a great way to further protect your data. Consider using a set of twelve passwords that change once per month.
Password to open is designed to use encryption to make the file more secure. Password to modify does not use encryption and makes the file less secure to readers. Using both options, with different passwords, allows you to secure the document and limit the number of readers.
A lot of customers are calling to retrieve their e-mail that suddenly, and for apparently no reason, disappeared. Malware, viruses and hackers can access your account and change your password or have your email redirected to a bogus address. To the end user, the change can mean no access to contacts. Emails or other stored data. It is nearly impossible to call the email host for help. The solution means having to wade through the account settings to change the password to one you know.
You will have to request a password change, hoping you remember the answers to the security questions setup a long time ago… Once complete, you should be able to re-access the email and other data. Do not try to accomplish this on the same computer the malware or virus is on. Try to repair your email account by using another system until yours can be repaired by a professional. Create backup copies of your contacts and email by exporting them to your local system. (Place those files in a folder that is included in your local backup profile).
You should also be prepared to rotate your passwords so this can avoided in the future. Consider rotating passwords on other accounts as well. These may include online banking accounts, brokerage accounts, store and social media accounts as well as others. Always write down and store passwords and security question answers in a safe place.
We recently ran into a situation where a person saved all their email in their online email inbox. Using Outlook on their local system, programmed to retrieve the online email, produced significant problems when downloading all the data. There were near 40,000. Because of the glitches caused by downloading this much email, the program would start over. This produced a local Inbox, (within Outlook), of near 157,000 emails. Because of his hard drive was smaller, that much data filled it up. The entire system would not function, rendering the computer useless.
This issue was fixed by incorporating many man hours moving email from the online Inbox to another folder. Outlook would now only download what was in the reduced Inbox folder. His local hard drive was relieved of older emails by backing up the .pst file first and then deleting them.
The entire issue could have been avoided if the end user maintained his online email. Identify spam, delete unwanted email and move to folders any email you wish to keep. The Inbox needs to be kept clean.
Windows PC’s are notorious for getting cluttered as they age. This can slow down your system significantly. There are a slew of cleanup utilities that are available, yet not as effective as we may want. That time when the system was new and “snappy” may be past…
Cleanup utilities are a compelling sale to all Windows users. We want to believe our PC will be faster and more “normal,” however the reality is the improvement is minor. Instead of purchasing cleanup utilities, save your money for hardware upgrades that really will make your PC better. Free utilities can do a great job keeping your system clean. It is up to the end user to utilize them properly.
Some hardware advances make the purchase well worth the cost. Additional ram is always a plus. A new video card can speed up graphics. A bigger power supply can insure all the peripherals are operating at peak levels.
Software maintenance can be accomplished using free programs like ccleaner, malwarebytes and super antispyware. Ultimately, it may be necessary to reinstall the operating system and programs to achieve greater performance.
In these times, more people are hanging on to their systems longer. Seeking advice is the best way to know what path you should take to resolve your technology issues.
If you have a smartphone, then you can be tracked. Most smartphones use a locator to find the location of the device. Most devices will ask your permission before activating. If you do not want to be tracked, do not give them permission to do so. If you are not sure, check the settings.
Using an iPhone as the example, go to Settings, General and then Location Services. Turn off any application you do not want to track your location. Remember that in order to use certain apps, such as Maps, the locator will need to be on if you want to get directions from, say, your Current Location.
Other apps to avoid are Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Facebook Places that will tell everyone where you are at any given moment. Do not Geotag your photos, that tell exactly where the picture was taken.
Of course there are reasons to keep tracking or locator options active. Lost your smartphone lately??
Your cable or satellite TV box may be contributing more to your electric bill than you realize. The issue is most boxes remain at full power when not in use. Unlike a monitor or computer system that can reduce power consumption after a set amount of time, most TV boxes cannot. Add to that the number of boxes in the home, (one for each TV), and you can better understand how your electric bill can rise.
The immediate solution is to turn off the box when not in use. It is a habit that needs to be learned and practiced, just like turning off the lights. Another idea is to call your provider and see if they offer a “whole house solution.” This solution uses one higher power box and several low power consuming boxes on other TV’s. Still another option is to use an energy efficient web based streaming device such as Apple TV.
Most new HDTV’s have internet ready capabilities and can draw their content straight from the internet, with a little set up, by-passing the TV box altogether.
Until you are ready to upgrade your TV or move to another provider, please remember to turn off the lights, and the TV box, when you leave the room.
We are often asked about cleaning the surfaces of TV’s, PC’s and Keyboards. What is the best, safest way to clean these? First, unplug the device you are about to clean.
For TV’s: Find a clean, dry and soft cloth to use. Do not use a paper towel or other “rough” material. Do not use glass cleaning solutions, such as Windex or any other product that uses alcohol. Distilled water is the safest liquid to use. If you need to clean an area that is really “caked on,” then add a small amount of vinegar. Be sure to wipe the borders, sides, back and all the vents.
For PC’s: Again, unplug everything. Open the case and remove any large clumps of dust. Get a can of compressed air and spray the interior of the case, the power supply, fans and cooling units on top of the cpu. Remove the front panel and repeat. Do NOT use a wet cloth inside the case. Do NOT get anything wet on the interior of your computer system. Replace the side panel of the case and wipe down the exterior with a dampened cloth.
For a Keyboard: Turn off the PC and use a compressed can of air to blow out any particles from in between the keys on the keyboard. Use a dampened cloth to wipe away any stains or materials from the top surface of the keyboard. If any keys come off replace them immediately to avoid damage to the key or the components that hold them in place and provide the “spring.”
Facebook has grown to be the largest social network in the world. According to a recent issue of PC World magazine, more than half a billion people use Facebook. Here are some ideas to keep your information private on Facebook.
Facebook Places has some advantages. Consider disabling this feature. Places allow ill-intentioned people to see your profile, as well as everyone else on Facebook. To disable Places, click on Account tab and select Privacy Settings. You can limit who sees your profile and how much others see when you upload images and comments.
To disable Places altogether, click Custm Settings from the Account drop down menu, and look for the last line that reads “Things I share.” Click Edit and then Disable.
Control items posted to your account. When you post something to your account the default setting is to let everyone see it. If you have doubts about sharing a picture or comment, don’t. But if you do want to control who sees it, click on the drop down menu above Share. Select who can see your posting(s).
Hiding your application activity is another way to privatize your Facebook account. Go to the Privacy Settings page and at the bottom, under Applications and websites, select Edit your settings. Below Game and application, Custom and select the option for Only Me.
How can we make our fairly new, or “not that old,” PC run faster? Here are some tips…
First clean out all the junk files. You can use a utility called Ccleaner that removes junk files for you, or you can manually remove them. Go to a search engine to download and install Ccleaner. While you are cleaning, clear the desktop of its icons. Some people insist on having dozens of icons on the desktop for ease of use. We suggest creating a folder named “Desktop Icons” and placing most of them in that folder. This will help with startup times and performance.
Second is to find out how much RAM you currently have, the type of RAM and what the maximum amount of RAM is that you can install on your system. Purchase and install RAM up to the maximum amount.
Next is to consider how old your hard drive is. If your hard drive is a few years old, you may want to purchase a new one. The new hard drives are probably larger than the current one and probably faster, in terms of rpms, than the current one. You can purchase the new drive and then conduct an image copy so that your os, data and programs move over seamlessly.
Upgrading the graphics card can speed up your system as well. Consider changing to a faster model by purchasing one with greater transfer rates, (512 MB plus). This would especially help the Gamers.
If your motherboard can handle a faster CPU, do so. You will have to go the manufacturers web site to find out how much faster a chip you can get and where to get one.
If you want to move your email and contacts from Outlook Express to Outlook on a computer, running Windows 7, it is not as easy as importing into Outlook. Outlook will recognize OE mail, so you need to setup and then import your email into Windows Live Mail, then export from that program into an Outlook 2007/2010 program.
First is to find your address book, (.wab file), and your emails. This can be done on your older system and then backed up or transferred to a removable media, such as a flash drive. Take that data and transfer it the desktop of the new PC running Windows 7.
Go to the Microsoft site and download the Windows Live Mail program to the Windows 7 PC. Once completed, open the Control Panel and click on the Mail icon to set up your new account. Next, import your OE data into the Windows Live Mail account you just setup.
Once that step is completed, open and setup your account in Outlook 2007/2010. Once that step is completed, click to Import the data from your Windows Live Mail account. Done.
The key to this process is knowing where the OE data is and being able to find it easily on the new system. Additionally, you need to know the Server settings, username, (your email address), and email password. The server settings may be automatically setup by Outlook, however, if not, then you will need to install that information manually. Most of the time, you can find out the server settings by searching for “server settings for x,” (where x is the provider name).