Wednesday, 26 October 2016

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

Unfortunately most people only think about backups when it's too late! As you're reading this post ask yourself "Do I have a backup of all those family photos, music, work or homework?" if the answer is no, read on...



Backing up your stuff doesn't have to be complicated in fact it's as simple as not keeping all your eggs in one basket. There are many ways to backup your files, probably the most simple method is to copy your important files to a USB pen drive and put it away in a safe place.



There are numerous ways to backup your computer, here a few of my preferred methods:


  1. USB pen drive (or USB stick) - This method is as simple as it gets, no software to install or accounts to setup, just plug in the drive and copy your files across. Note a USB external harddrive will suit larger file size requirements.
  2. Use your computers own built in backup program - On Windows 10 you'll find Backup in System Settings, just plug in an external USB harddrive and follow the prompts to setup. Once setup this method is fully automatic and will quietly get on with backing up your files in the background. On macOS or OS X the built in backup program is called "Time Machine", just plug in an external harddrive and when asked say "Yes I want to use this drive for Time Machine Backup".
  3. Cloud Storage - typically this refers to paid services such as Dropbox, Box, OneDrive or even iCloud (Mac). Cloud storage is my preferred method, once you can get your head around the fact that they're looking after your data and not you (not great for control freaks) cloud storage allows you to just put your files in a specific folder and relax, the software installed on your computer takes care of the rest uploading and syncing your files with their server on the internet (cloud). Dropbox, Box and OneDrive all pretty much work the same way as far as you the end-user is concerned, but iCloud Drive by Apple is a little different, iCloud Drive takes your "Documents" and "Desktop" files and syncs them automatically to the cloud allowing you to access your files on any of your Apple devices, as most people tend to "dump" most of their stuff on the desktop I love this approach. Which ever cloud service you use the idea of all your files being on multiple devices all the time successfully lends its self to the basket of eggs rule.
  4. Number 4 isn't really a preferred method of mine - Backup Software, don't get me wrong some backup programs are great BUT sometimes they can be a little complicated to setup, and sometimes the restore files can only be accessed by that program (no good if it's a new computer and you don't have the program anymore!)
When to backup? Ask your self one simple question... How much data can I afford to loose.

...and finally if you do one thing today BACKUP!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Pa55w0rds123!

Let's start with a simple question... If a locksmith changed a lock in your home and then handed you the keys, would you just put them on the side and forget them? ...or would you keep them in a safe place, where you know where to find them?...after all you won't get in your house without them!

Of course you'd keep them safe ...right???



When it comes to passwords people misplace them all the time. It's incredible how many times when I ask a customer to enter their password when fixing a computer problem we enter into the usual TV gameshow of "Try This!". Is it "Password123"? Is it "Mydogiscute55"? Is it "letmein"?



Passwords are important... Don't treat them any differently to that new set of keys! Follow these 3 simple rules and your passwords will be there when you need them.


  1. Don't be predictable - You might think Pa55w0rd123 is a clever password and that the bad guys would never guess that one... YOU'RE WRONG!!! Don't go for obvious words in obvious combinations.
  2. A different Password for everything - Just like those keys are different for each door, your passwords should be different for each login. Yes I know it's a pain, but think about it, if the bad guys guess one password they've got access to everything... NOT GOOD!
  3. Keep your passwords safe - You wouldn't just throw your keys in the air and hope you find them later would you? ...then don't do it with your passwords, keep them safe. You could try and keep them all in your head (a bit tricky for most people) but it's much easier to either write them down in a book and keep it safe, use a password manager such as passpack.com, but whatever you do keep your passwords safe.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

S.C.A.M.


Internet scams are only too common, I hear of many on an almost daly basis. I'll give you some tips to help you avoid getting scammed in this post. To help you remember what to watch out for remember this Mnemonic:


Let's look at each of these headings...

SCHEMING - Online scammers will often either try to deceive you by pretending to be someone or something else, or will try to lure you in with offers or deals that seam too good to be true (they usually are). Sometimes they'll try to trick you in to thinking you've won a competition (THINK! Did you ever enter that competition?). Golden Rule... Treat EVERYTHING with suspicion, take a moment and just think "Does this feel right?". DELETE - RUN AWAY - IGNORE

CRAFTY - Scammers are now turning to less conventional means to gain access to your computer, or even your wallet. As most people are becoming much more clued-up on keeping safe online the scammers often rely on non-technical approaches such as calling you on the phone and pretending to be a genuine company. I myself am not immune to this approach, I once received a phone call from "Microsoft Explorer", the not-Gentleman explained my computer had a virus and that I should follow his instructions immediately to avoid loss of data (or something like that). I kept the scammer on the phone for about an hour and then revealed I was on a Mac... he was NOT amused! This brings me on to the next heading...

AGGRESSIVE - My scammer immediately became aggressive and let's just say wasn't very polite! I of course new exactly what I was doing in my little pay-back game (don't do that at home folks!). At the point where the scammer feels he's loosing you (you're becoming suspicious) he will attempt to make you feel intimidated, stupid, flustered or even sorry for him, these are all tactics... DON'T FALL FOR IT! 

MALICIOUS - And finally if they're not after you wallet they may simply be trying to infect your computer with Malware. Now if you're on a Mac you probably thinking I'm alright I'm on a Mac, they can't touch me, well you're WRONG! Macs do indeed have very good security, BUT that security can't protect YOU from YOU. If you enter your system password in when the nice man asks you to that simply saves him having to hack your system. DON'T DO ANYTHING THEY ASK YOU TO... HANG UP!

In summary... If you think that email or phone call is genuine, contact that company (looking up the contact details yourself - don't use the contact details they give you, they could be false) directly, you'll then find out if you've cleverly avoided a scam.

My thoughts... I still believe there are more good people in the world than bad people but stay vigilant as they're banking (quit literally) on your kindness!



Hope this helps... Marc (aka The Computer Wiz) Simmons | See also my post on Antivirus.



Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Warp Factor 9 Mr. Scott... SSD vs HDD

SSD vs HDD... What are they? ...and what's the difference?

According to Wikipedia an SSD (Solid State Drive) is: A solid-state drive (SSD, also known as a solid-state disk[1][2][3]) is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. SSD technology primarily uses electronic interfaces compatible with traditional block input/output (I/O) hard disk drives, which permit simple replacements in common applications.[4] Additionally, new I/O interfaces, like SATA Express and M.2 have been designed to address specific requirements of the SSD technology. SSDs have no moving mechanical components. This distinguishes them from traditional electromechanical magnetic disks such as hard disk drives (HDDs) or floppy disks, which contain spinning disks and movable read/write heads.[5] Compared with electromechanical disks, SSDs are typically more resistant to physical shock, run silently, have lower access time, and lower latency.[6] However, while the price of SSDs has continued to decline over time,[7] consumer-grade SSDs are (as of 2016) still roughly four times more expensive per unit of storage than consumer-grade HDDs.[8]





According to Wikipedia a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is: hard disk drive (HDD), hard diskhard drive or fixed disk[b] is a data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital information using one or more rigid rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material. The platters are paired with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm, which read and write data to the platter surfaces.[2] Data is accessed in a random-access manner, meaning that individual blocks of data can be stored or retrieved in any order and not only sequentially. HDDs are a type of non-volatile memory, retaining stored data even when powered off.





Now that's the tech bit out of the way...

Many existing computers and laptops come with HDD's pre-installed as they're cheaper and can offer large storage capacities on a budget. While HDD's are fine for most users once you've experienced the massively increased speeds of SSD's you won't want to go back to regular HDD's. Typically an SSD drive is 10x the speed of a HDD which makes this one of the most noticeable upgrades your computer or laptop can have fitted.

Most computers are capable of running on SSD drives though sometimes an adapter or bracket may be required. A consideration for laptops is that SSD drives use less battery power than regular HDD's which is a handy bonus, plus they're more durable if your laptop gets knocked or even dropped (even if the laptop doesn't survive the SSD probably will).

The downside of SSD's is the upside of HDD's, SSD's are much more expensive and space comes at a premium, typically a new laptop with an SSD drive will cost you an extra £200 with 1/4 of the space of its regular HDD counterpart, but the massive speed difference makes this still a desirable option.

Best of both worlds...

Hybrid drives SSHD or as Apple markets them "Fusion" Drives deliver the best of both worlds, combining SSD with HDD in one package. The SSHD delivers very nearly the speed of an SSD with the storage capacity of a HDD at a price point usually somewhere between the two. Hybrid or SSHD drives are perfect for people who want SSD speeds on a budget while not compromising on storage capacity.


If you would like to know more about SSD or SSHD upgrades just call 01553 660941 and The Computer Wiz will be happy to discuss your requirements in more detail.