Got a new phone or PC for XMAS? What about the old one?

Getting new gear for the holidays is great!  But what about all of your personal info on your old electronics?  Don’t let that data get into the wrong hands. In a study by security software vendor Avast, they purchased 20 Android smartphones from eBay and were able to recover from the phone – 40,000 photos – including 250 nude selfies, along with 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts, identities of 4 previous phone owners and one completed loan application. Users THOUGHT they were doing a ‘clean’ wipe and factory re-install on their phones.  It turns out though that after doing this wipe … Continue reading

Here’s how to get rid of Microsoft’s nagging Windows 10 Upgrade prompts

I like Windows 10.  Simple as that.  It’s certainly better than Windows 8 and in computer years, Windows 7 is getting old.  Should you upgrade? – for most of us, yes.  I would recommend upgrading before July, 2016 while Microsoft is still giving the upgrade away for free.  But for some of us, there are many reasons why you would NOT want to upgrade (either now or later) – an incompatible program or piece of hardware, for example.  If you have a Windows 7 or 8 PC and are tired of the constant nag that pops up often from Microsoft … Continue reading

Another tool to help block the dangerous ransomware CryptoWall

Ransomware is a VERY dangerous type of malicious software that can ecrypt (basically LOCKS) all of the data on your computer.  It holds it ‘hostage’ and demands hundreds of dollars to get it back. BitDefender Labs has discovered that a new variant of the very dangerous CryptoWall software (version 4.0) does not infect a computer if it detects Russian as a keyboard language.  So you can ‘immunize’ your computer against this variant by adding the keyboard language to your PC.  No, you do not have to learn or start typing in Russian!  Bitdefender has a free CryptoWall ‘vaccine’ that you can … Continue reading

IMAGE Backup

I LOVE Image backups! Hard drives die (yes, it happens often).  With an Image backup, if your hard drive dies, you can do an Image restore to a new hard drive and in one step, it loads your computer back to just like it was when you did your backup.  Windows – yes, ALL your programs – yes, ALL your data – yes.  In as little as a few minutes (depending on your computer speed, amount of data, etc), your computer can be ready to go again.  No loading Windows, no finding (or re-purchasing) your software/product keys, no downloading data – it’s … Continue reading

Are your website plugins updated? Thousands get hacked!

WordPress is a great platform for websites.  There are a ton of plugins that give websites all kind of great functionality. I’m always reminding you about how important updating any software on your computer that touches the Internet (operating system, web browsers, browser plugins such as Java, etc.).  If you have a website, the same rules apply.  Update, update, update!  Websites with out-of-date plugins are a great target for hackers.  Thousands of un-patched websites are being hacked (which may lead to your website being blacklisted – which is the last thing you want for your website). Here’s a website where … Continue reading

You should install this to protect your PC from the most damaging virus!

For many years, viruses and other malicious software (malware) attacks have been annoying for many of us!  Yes, annoying…but that was about it.  Get your computer cleaned up, then move on.  In the worst case, passwords or other data was stolen and it was a pain to change passwords, establish a credit freeze, etc.  Annoying…but we moved on.  No major damage done. A couple years ago there was a new player in the malicious software game.  A fairly new, but VERY DANGEROUS malware – RANSOMWARE.  This one was a major game changer.  Out with the annoying messages and in with software that … Continue reading

Windows 10 is Here! Now what?

Many have been counting down the days.  July 29th.  Microsoft Windows 10 is now available.  If you have Windows 7 or 8.1 on your computer, you may have even clicked on the notification and ‘reserved’ your copy.  But July 29th has passed now and many are wondering – What shall I do? First off, I want to say that I’m generally a big fan of Windows 10.  Unlike the roll-out of Windows 8 which had a lot of people unhappy with the new operating system, Windows 10 looks like it’s going to be a big hit.  Microsoft is bringing back the … Continue reading

Why is my VOIP (Voice Over IP) Terrible? Is it my ISP?

Voice Over IP (VOIP) can be great.  All the features you ever wanted and needed…Inexpensive..Portable…Crystal Clear Voice Quality…  It CAN be great. There are many cases where VOIP though can be terrible – Dropped calls, you can only hear about every other word, the other party can only hear your every other word, calls not going through…  It CAN be terrible. If your VOIP service is on the terrible side – First – Let’s explore what’s the CAUSE of the problem.  The two major reasons for bad VOIP are – 1 – A Poor VOIP provider (yes, some are better than … Continue reading

Automatically Backup your Smartphone’s Photos and Videos

I have a 4 year old boy and an 8 year old daughter.  I LOVE taking lots of pictures and videos of them!  Since my smartphone is always with me, I use it for most of these precious memories.  On most smartphones these days, your email, contacts, etc. are synchronized with your server and therefore backed up, BUT the pictures and videos you take probably are not.  Furthermore, if you take a LOT of photos and videos like me, having a space limited backup may be a problem. I would REALLY HATE to lose all of those precious and irreplaceable pictures and videos should my … Continue reading

More Password Management Ideas (No Cloud Allowed!)

In my last blog entry, I talked about using some ‘Cloud’ based Password Managers to keep track of your passwords across your many devices.  As I was writing the blog I was imagining some of you who would be ‘yelling’ at the text – “There’s NO WAY I would store all of my passwords in the Cloud!”.  The reality is that what you are storing in the cloud is just an encrypted file that only you have access to, BUT, I can certainly understand the hesitation.  If you are looking for ways to manage your passwords and strictly keep them local … Continue reading

How do I keep track of all of these darn passwords?

8-16 characters long…Must contain at least one number…Must contain at least one special character…Must have at least one lowercase and one uppercase letter… The password requirements we see on many websites these days are there to protect you!  Yes, protect you from continuing to use the password “123456” or “password” that you’ve been using all these years (you know who you are)! I’ve also talked many times about how Password Re-Use is a big no no (if a hacker breaks into just one site, he now has your password to a bunch of other sites)!  But how do we keep track … Continue reading

10 Smart & Easy Steps for Safety & Security on the Web

The ‘Web’ is Great.  The Internet is everywhere in our lives these days.  With so much data digitized and connected to millions of other Internet connected devices, safety and security should be on the top of our minds these days.  Here are 10 things you CAN do to help keep yourself safe in our connected world: 1 – Use strong passwords and use some type of password manager.  Your passwords should be MEMORABLE and COMPLEX.  That’s right, you can have complex passwords which are still easy to remember.  I’m not talking about something like: Tq&5p8g%.  How about your Dog’s name spelled backwards … Continue reading

What’s using all of my Hard Drive space?

I was working with a client yesterday who was telling me how her computer was slow and doing weird things.  I clicked on “Computer” and saw her C: drive (her main hard drive) was Red and just about full!  She had a 500GB drive, said she had a bunch of digital photos, but not too much else she knew of.  Windows needs a small percentage of your hard drive to remain free for temporary use.  Many functions may not work properly if your hard drive is completely full (printing, for example, needs some free space to work) and your computer may … Continue reading

Convert your existing Windows XP computer to a Virtual Machine running in Windows 8

I mentioned during a recent Tech Solutions Radio show that you could turn your existing old Windows XP computer into a ‘Virtual’ machine and run it on your new Windows 8 computer.  If you have some old programs you need that won’t run on a newer version of Windows, but you don’t want to keep that old hardware box sitting around, this may be a great option for you. Here’s a great article that walks you through the process, step-by-step, using free products to get this done: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/windows-and-office/run-your-windows-xp-system-in-windows-8-with-vmware/ Ok, it’s not a super easy process.  If you would like a … Continue reading