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Category Archives: Personal Computer Answers

Intelligent Reasons Why External Drives Are Still Needed

External hard drive can provide additional storage solutions.

External hard drives can provide additional storage solutions.

Why Do You Still Need That External Drive?

There has been an incredible increase of storage options available which are cloud-based. For subscribers of Office 365, they can store up to 1 TB with the use of Microsoft’s OneDrive. Google offers 100 GB of cloud-based storage for a time period of two years when you purchase Chromebook. This is just a few of the enormous list of options available for cloud-based storage.

You may be asking yourself; with these many options available to me, is there a reason why external drives are still needed? The answer to that question is definitely yes.

Intelligent Reasons for Having One

Backup of Data

The first most obvious reason is data backup. As most computer users know the importance of backing up their data. They understand the possibility of accidents. Computers fall, drinks spill, motherboards burn out from power surges, the list of mishaps is endless.

Sure, you can use cloud storage for data backup, however, there are a few downfalls to this option. First, you must consider costs as well as data caps. Additionally, the time needed to efficiently backup your data is consuming. During the several hours used to upload your data, due to the drainage of bandwidth, your usage on the computer will be limited.

Additional Security

One of the most significant reasons why an external hard drive is still needed with today’s technology is security. There is always the possibility of someone stealing your password: additionally, the company servers of the cloud storage you chose could become a victim of hacking. In either situation, your private data is put at risk to be stolen and used by criminals.

Access Offline and Ability to Travel

Another intelligent reason to use an external hard drive is offline access as well as portability. The majority of external hard drives today are extremely small, approximately the size of your wallet. Due to this small size, they are ideal to bring along with you while away from home. This comes in handy when internet service is unavailable for an extended period of time.

Dependability

Almost all cloud-based servers have dealt with issues in the past where customers storage was unavailable for access. If this happens, how will you retrieve your data needed for work, school, or other important business? External hard drives do not pose this problem and are simple to use.

Cost-Effective

In most cases, the needed amount of storage space to backup data equals more than the amount in which cloud-based providers offer for free. This means you will incur monthly or yearly expenses to store your data. However, costs for an external hard drive is much lower and do not require an ongoing fee.

If you still feel cloud-based storage is right for you, consider the use of an external hard drive for a second backup to ensure the safety of your delicate data. 

Malware can be harmful, if not prevented.

Is There Malware on Your Mac? Different Ways It May Have Got Infected

Malware can be harmful, if not prevented.

Malware can be harmful, if not prevented.

Is Your Mac Infected?

If you’re a Mac owner, you probably already know it is more difficult for a Mac to become infected with malware than a Microsoft Windows PC. However, as more people begin to use Mac’s, it has become more common than ever for your Mac to be infected with a virus. Third-party software is the most common way a Mac becomes infected.

Some common ways for your Mac to become compromised include the following:

Java Browser Extension Enabled

One way for your Mac to become infected is by installing Java as well as its browser extension. With this extension, you are able to run Java written software from within your browser. Keep in mind, this is not the same a JavaScript.

The good news is, you likely will no longer use websites which rely on Java browser plugin with today’s modern technology. Many browsers have already dropped the use of Java plugins. To disable the use in Apple’s Safari browser head to Preferences > Security > Plug-in Settings and uncheck the relevant boxes. In many cases, it is totally safe to uninstall Java and its browser extension.

Pirated Software Download

Downloading pirated software is one of the easiest ways for your Mac or Windows PC to become infected. Due to Apple’s OS being considered quite safe, the majority of individuals do not have a virus scanner on their Mac. However, whenever you install the software you open your Mac up to third-parties. And by downloading pirated software, you have no way to know if it has been tampered with. Stay safe by buying software from legitimate sources or use free alternatives.

Unpatched Flash

Adobe’s Flash browser plugin has been the cause of numerous security issues. The good news is with modern technology such as HTML5 which performs the same job as Flash, it has been becoming more obsolete.

Google Chrome has a Flash version which is sandboxed, allowing it to run in a without harming your PC by keeping it contained in a secure environment. However, if you are a Safari user, you can have the browser ask when running websites with Flash by going to Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings.

Keep in mind, even the most updated version of Flash can pose a risk to your Mac. The best way to protect yourself is by disabling Flash in Safari. Go to Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings and uncheck Flash.

Apple Security

The pattern of Mac infections shows the most common way to put your PC at risk is with third-party software. Apple has always been excellent with their security, but by using additional security software, you can add another layer of protection to your Mac.

2016 Best Security Suites

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Security Suites for 2016

The best security suite is needed today when one of our major concerns are cyber threats. With an all-in-one security suite, you should find all the features needed to keep your PC secure. Some suites offer more features than others, with some optional and not necessary.

Features Looked for in Best Security Suites

When looking at Security Suites, the first thing to look at is its antivirus protection. Without this, there is no security for your PC. Another feature to look for is the firewall protection. Some security suites assume Windows Firewall handles what you want with a firewall, skipping this component.

Some suites include spam filters. Which you want a filter that does the job properly and not sifts out an important email message you’ve been waiting for. With reviewing Security Suites, letting spam into an email inbox is better than tossing valid mail away.

Privacy protection is crucial, and when security suites turn users away from phishing sites, it can be helpful. However, some also provide protection for specific sensitive data, such as bank accounts. By entering in this information, and the alarm is sounded with some, while offer credit card protection. There are some with a secure browser for you to do online banking.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2016

This security suite comes out on top with a combination of the best antivirus, antispam, and antiphishing features along with many other integrated security items. With a password manager, parental control, secure browser, unobtrusive firewall, Bitdefender manages to keep your PC safe without bogging it down. For secure online financial transactions, be sure to use SafePay.

Kaspersky Internet Security (2017)

Kaspersky Internet Security (2017) is one of the best at keeping both your PC and devices safe. Software updates automatically, spam filter, phishing protection, no-fuss firewall, great parental control, and many bonus features.

Symantec Norton Security Premium

Protect up to 10 devices, 25GB of hosted online backup, along with the best parental control system with this security suite. Intelligent firewall, cross-platform, spam filter, password manager, top-scoring malicious URL blocking, antiphishing, system optimization tools, with an ability to run with no-hassle and high performance.

McAfee Internet Security (2016)

McAfee Internet Security (2016) is cross-platform protection ensuring every device in your household stays safe. This security suite is loaded with features and includes ones found in McAfee antivirus. Expect awesome spam filtering, award-winning True Key password protection with a multifactor authentication not to mess with, and parental controls.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2016)

This security suite is extremely powerful with unusual antivirus, system optimization, as well as 25GB hosted online backup, and your system resources will not be lagged down. Some features include Web Shield, USB Shield, and PUP Shield, antiphishing, anti-ransomware, along with the ability to erase online activity traces.

These are the best Security Suites available for 2016. These vary on features and cost but essentially offer the same amount of virus protection.

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Guiding the Beginner about PC Backup

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PC Backup Is Important: Here is Our Guide

It is widely known, backing up our data is something we all must do. If not, unsaved data can be lost instantaneously. In today’s world, we feel much better when our data is saved.

Unfortunately, as important as this may be, many people still do not bother to take the few minutes to back up. This is true even after they lose a crucial documents, financial records, or an old childhood photo. Maybe this happens because the effort it takes, and how complex it was in past times. However, thanks to modern technology, new services, and hardware, backing up is easier than ever.

When backing up data, there is obvious, such as music, videos, pictures, and documents, drivers and then the not so obvious. There are many aspects of our data that is forgotten when backing up that needs consideration.

Web-Browsers

Backing up your web-browser is important because the favorites and bookmarks you saved while surfing. In addition, to make access easier you want the cookies, and how to your passwords. If your PC does fail, you want this data saved.

Firefox browser has a sync combined with encryption brought to you by Mozilla. In the upper-right hand corner, select the three-stack icon to set up your account. Follow this by setting up on all devices and PC’s enabled with Firefox.

Google Chrome can be backup up in a similar fashion as Firefox. Setting such as extensions, bookmarks, apps, and themes are able to be saved to your Google account.

Email

If you are using an email client software instead of a Web-based email system, your data is not being backed up by anyone other than you.

Outlook users need to watch out for their Personal Storage Table (PST) file for backup, which depending on what version of Windows and Outlook you have, can be located in different locations.

To locate you must open Outlook > File > Account Settings > Data Files. Next, hit on any entry then Open Folder Location. Also, in File Explorer for Windows 10, you want the ability to see Hidden Items. Do so by selecting View and inspecting the checkboxes.

Backing up your PST manually can also be done, however, this can be difficult due to its large size. There is an Import and Export option included with Outlook to help with this process, or use a third-party tool such as Safe PST Backup to make the process much simpler.

If you use another email client, such as Thunderbird, your email is located in several files, not just one. However, with their plug-in support, backing up these files are easier.

Save your PC back up to one of the several options to ensure its safety. These include external hard drives, disc, flash drive, the Cloud, or network attached storage (NAS).

Remember, backing up your data is important. Here are other ways you can back up the data, as well as why it is so important for you to do so.

Best Tablets for Windows of 2016

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Get These Tablets That are Rated the Best of 2016

With Windows 10 now here on tablets, focus for them to double as our PC keeps growing. There is a wide range of devices, where simple tablets are no longer your only option. No matter what needs you are looking for in a tablet, there is one available with Windows 10 as the operating system. Before heading out for that new Windows tablet, check out what is hot so far this year.

1) Surface Pro 4

Undoubtedly, the best Windows tablet available. Surface Pro 4 may be costlier than other tablets, but worth it with the built in quality it comes with. Microsoft outdid themselves with a sharper and larger screen than before and a feeling like typing on a real laptop with an island that’s redesigned. After using the Surface Pro 4, you may want to give up your laptop.

2.4GHz Intel Core i5 CPU – Intel HD Graphics 520 – 8GB RAM – 256GB SSD Storage – 12.3” Display

2) HP Spectre x2

There is a resemblance between Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and HP’s Spectre x2, but HP weighs less and is thinner. This is due a processor with no fan powering it, the Intel Core M. This tablet includes a keyboard, and comes at a cost quite less than Surface Pro 4. HP Spectre x2 has a battery life that is efficient, allowing you more time for work or play than on other model tablets.

1.2GHz Intel Core m7 CPU – Intel HD Graphics 515 – 8GB RAM – 256GB SSD Storage – 12” Display

3) Surface 3

If you are looking for something less that what Surface Pro 4 offers, check out what Surface 3 provides. Smaller than the 12” form with a display of 10.8”, this tablet is an excellent tablet rather than a laptop replacement. Surface 3 provides you with a quiet, lighter solution at a more affordable price.

1.6GHz Quad Core Intel Atom CPU – Integrated Intel HD Graphics – 4GB RAM – 128GB SSD Storage – 10.8” Display

4) HP Pavilion x2

An extremely affordable Windows tablet. HP Pavilion x2 is a 10” convertible tablet, with lots of punch. This tablet is equipped with an HD screen, making editing photos a simple task. HP Pavilion x2 has plenty of power to see you through an entire day of simple web browsing. Take the 10” works off when you feel like relaxing with streaming media. No need to stick with 10” of the screen if you’re looking for more, check out HP Pavilion x2 12” model.

1.33GHz Intel Atom CPU – Intel HD Graphics – 2GB RAM – 32GB eMMC Storage – 10.1” Display

No need to change operating systems when purchasing a tablet, one with Windows 10 is all you’ll need.

Intelligent Google Drive Chrome Extensions Every User Should Know

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Know These Google Drive Chrome Extensions for Better Usage

If you’re a regular user of Google Drive while on the Chrome browser, you want to get the most out of this service they offer. With 15GB of free online storage and an option to upgrade to give you more space for business or personal use, along with a productivity suite containing Docs, Sheets, and Slides, when you add some intelligent extensions this becomes an exceptional tool needed in both homes and offices.

1) Office Editing for Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Google Drive allows you to store almost any file. However, without this extension installed, Google Docs is unable to open a Word Doc until it is converted to the Google Docs format. With this extension, you can permanently convert your files to Google format or open, edit, and save your DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, and XLSX files.

2) Save to Google Drive

At times when it may not be as simple as you want it to be to add things to your Google Drive. This extension allows you to add individual parts, such as images or texts, or an entire web page to Google Drive for you to access later. Save PDFs, audio, video, and even Microsoft Office documents. If you wish, convert these documents automatically to Doc, Sheets, or Slides format. To save, simply hold-down or right-click items you wish stored and choose “Save to Google Drive”.

3) Checker Plus for Google Drive

Checker Plus not only works with Google Drive but also for Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Photos. This extension allows you full access to all files stored on Google Drive as well as images on your Google Photos. This is the fastest way of searching and browsing files stored without having to access the site for Google Drive itself.

4) AbleBits

AbleBits has several incredible add-ons available for Google Sheets. These add-ons make working with Sheets much easier while enhancing your productivity.

These add-ons include:

  • Merge two sheets
  • Remove duplicates
  • Merge values from adjacent cells
  • Change table style, generate random values
  • Work with text, formulas, and format
  • Find and replace data in notes, links, formulas, and values
  • Split full names into different columns
  • Find fuzzy matches and correct typos in your sheet
  • Generate random values
  • Keep in mind extras like these are costly for Microsoft Excel, but free for Sheets.

5) Draftback

Draftback makes it simple to look up your revision history. All changes you made are basically played back for you. Everything is kept private unless you desire to make your playback public.

Install these intelligent Google Drive Chrome extensions and get a boost in work output.

Gain Power Supply Unit Knowledge before Buying One

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Know the Power Supply Before Buying it

Whether purchasing a new power supply unit (PSU) for your used computer or one you’re building, do not settle on a cheap on. An entire system receives power from a PSU, your awesome graphic card or top-of-the-line motherboard are at risk of malfunctioning when using a bad one.

This does not mean however that you must choose an expensive model, there are budget PSUs available to keep costs down while building your own rig. To ensure you make the right choice, need power supply unit knowledge before heading out for your purchase.

Wattage = Continuous – VS – Peak 

One of the first things you need to consider when purchasing a new PSU is the amount of wattage your PC will need. You need to ensure enough watts are able to be delivered to the different parts of the computer. Some PSU models available provide as little as 300W while others go as high as 1200W.

When looking at packaging for PSUs, these numbers boldly displayed for consumers to see. However, you want to know if that number is continuous wattage or peak wattage. Peak wattage shows what a unit can provide for a quick minute before falling back to a lower number. Continuous would indicate a how many watts a PSU can provide continually without any number fluctuation. A models specification page can usually provide you with these details.

To make your purchasing easier, look for a PCUs continuous wattage while ignoring peak.

Efficient Power Supply Units

To not only be nice to the planet earth, be kind to your utility bill by purchasing an efficient PSU. Your outlet sends AC power to the PSU, converting it over to DC power then sends it to all the different parts in the PC. During conversion, some of the energy tends to get wasted. What this means, you want a PSU which wastes as little energy as possible when sending power to all the different parts in your PC.

So, an efficiency of 80% shows a unit able to convert 80% of AC power while a unit with 50% can convert 50% of AC to DC power. When looking for an efficient PSU, the highest rating is 80% Plus. These also have an advantage of running cooler.

Power Supply Units Are Worth the Investment

Like already stated above, do not settle for a cheap PSU. These units supply power to different parts in your PC basically affecting every piece in there. Not only are your parts better protected by a better PSU, they last much longer than the cheap models. If you plan on upgrading your PC in the future in which you’ll need a higher watt power supply, you can find plenty of buyers that will offer you a good price for this one.

You can also use these tips to increase your computer’s power supply.

Become an Internet Pro with These Awesome Browser Tricks

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Awesome Browser Tricks Everyone Should Know

The majority of us put Internet browsers to use on a daily basis. They are a way for us to see and discover everything the world wide web has to offer.

Due to the amount of time we spend on our browsers, it can be assumed you’re an Internet pro. However, not very many of us are. There is always more browser tricks for you to learn to enhance your skills.

Here are some awesome browser tricks to help you surf like a pro:

1) Dead Webpages

While searching online, you may stumble across some sites which are no longer online. This happens for various reasons. Paste the dead link into archive.org if you have this problem. Many times they have old versions of sites available to view.

2) Tab Restore

Everyone has accidentally closed a tab, and many times you may not remember what site you were on. This can be frustrating, and in the past, you would have had to go through your browser’s history to find and reload it. This is no longer the case with most browsers who offer “Recently Closed Tabs” list.

A faster way than going through history, press ctrl + shift + T and your tab will reload.

3) Use Your Browser as a Notepad

We all have been in need of paper and pen, but there is none to be found.

Bookmark this code to use the browser window for a notepad:

data:text/html, <html contenteditable>

Simply enter this code into your browser address next time you’re in need.

Be sure to copy any notes taken before closing any windows, these are not able to be saved.

4) Google’s Reverse Image Search

You may have an image saved someplace on your PC, but have no memory of where it came from. You can find out with Google’s reverse image search. Go to images.google.com and either drag and drop the image you have saved or click the camera icon.

5) Clearing Cache

A cache is a temporary storage of such things as images and web pages, with a purpose of reducing lag, bandwidth, and server load. There are times that sites are able to be loaded from the cache. However, a cache can end up corrupted. When this happens, you can simply clear and reload the proper version of the cache. To do so press ctrl + shift + R. 

6) URL Highlight

Oftentimes, keyboard shortcuts are quicker to use than a mouse. Everyone knows the popular ones, such as cut and copy, but try this awesome one.

Highlight the current website URL by pressing ctrl + L. Easily share your links with friends or co-workers.

After learning these neat tricks, you can take to your browser like a pro. Make sure to also check out how to configure and set up your Microsoft 10 browser.

Warning Signs to Watch for with a Failing SSD

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If in the market for a new desktop or laptop, it is recommended to choose one with a Solid State Drive (SSD) rather than a traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD). An SSD is more stable, faster, and uses less energy, making them untouchable compared to an HDD. However, this does not mean they can never fail.

An expected lifespan for an SSD is 5-7 years, with many failing before then. Knowing how you can protect yourself and what you need to look out for is part of getting the most out of them.

Possible Failures of an SSD

Due to no moving physical parts in an SSD, there are no HDD issues, However, other components than storage are susceptible to mechanical failure.

The required power supplies and capacitator are vulnerable for malfunctions. Another problem may be limited cycles of read/write.  This does not mean to become paranoid, with read/write problems mostly occurring as in older SSD, and you can always retrieve your data.

Failing SSD Warning Signs

Unlike an HDD where a there is a whirring noise to alert you there is an issue, SDDs have none. The most reliable and hassle free way of knowing your SSD is running smoothly is by installing software which monitors and checks for flaws.

Windows users – Crystal Disk Mark

Mac OS X users – Smart Reporter Lite

Other Warning Signs

Bad Block on SSD

SSDs have bad blocks in same way as HDDs have bad sectors. When trying to save or read a file, it ends in failure after a long wait, eventually giving an error message.

Usual Signs of Bad Blocks

  1. Applications freeze and crash often.
  2. Files unable to be read or written to drive.
  3. Runs slow, more often when retrieving a large file.
  4. Need to repair PC or file system.
  5. When moving files there are frequent errors.

Files Unable to Be Read or Written

Your files can be affects by bad block in two ways:

  1. While data is written to the drive, a bad block is detected by the system, refusing to write any data.
  2. After data has been written to the drive, a bad block is detected by the system, refusing data to be read.

First case shown, there is no corruption to your data because it has yet to be written. Many times this this is resolved automatically.

Second case shown, your date will be difficult to retrieve. Many times, there is no retrieving it.

Is Your SSD Ready to Fail?

If you notice any of the warning signs, you need to consider replacing your SSD. Shop around and look at all your choices before making a final decision.

Tired of Windows? Mac Newbie Keyboard Tips

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Mac Navigation is Different From PC

Switching to a Mac after being a Window user can be a shocker for many users. Windows shortcuts which you have been accustomed to using no longer work, helpful keys are missing from the Mac keyboard such as End and Home. Functions of Apple’s ctrl key are unlike Windows.

No need to worry! In no time at all your memory will adjust to a Mac’s keyboard, and when you understand some simple differences between Windows and Mac, expect it to be quicker.

Equivalent to Window Keys

On Mac, command or cmd key, located on either side of the spacebar is equivalent to Windows Control key. Several Window shortcuts work on Mac as well when cmd is used instead of Control. For example, Windows shortcuts for cut-copy-paste is ctrl+x, ctrl+c, ctrl+v and when used on Mac they become cmd+x, cmd+c, and cmd+v. 

There is a key named control (ctrl) on OS X. This is placed between option and fn keys on the spacebars left. Mac’s ctrl key is used for some keyboard shortcuts you soon will discover.

(Windows) Alt+Tab = (OS X) Command+Tab

Switching applications on Mac with cmd+tab is just as simple as it was on Windows with Alt+Tab. With OS X cmd key in the same location as Windows alt key, this shortcut is already memorized for you.

(Windows) Home/End = (OS X) Command+Arrow Keys

Mac keyboards are missing the helpful Home and End keys which are located on PC keyboards. For Home use cmd+left arrow and for End use cmd+right arrow. Using cmd+down arrow to bring you to a selections bottom and to go the beginning use cmd+up arrow. 

Using Enter on OS X to Rename Files

When working on Windows, hitting the Enter key opens the file in the default application. When hitting Enter on Mac while having a folder or file selected allows it to be renamed. When selecting cmd+o the file can be opened by use of the keyboard.

(Windows) Alt = (OS X) Option

The option key is one that will be used often, giving the ability to type special symbol, diacritical marks, and characters. Many but not all shortcuts using alt on Windows are replaced with option. 

There are hidden options you are given access to by way of the option key. For example, using a Word document, if you open the File menu and hold down the option key, there is a new option available – Save As… – when option key is released this new option goes away.

This is just a handful of handy Mac shortcuts available to you. A Mac keyboard may feel strange to you as of now, but after first few weeks of use, you will feel right at home. Of course, if you need a refresher for PC shortcuts, here is the list you can follow.