2016 Back to School Cleanup Special

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After a school year of  web browsing, term papers, music and movie downloads, and game playing, your computer can use a good clean up before school starts in the fall. I’m offering a deal on total cleanup of your computer. Either a complete Virus and Malware cleanup on your laptop or desktop computer, or a total PC Overhaul.  Either service is now a $80 flat fee, a $20 savings off regular price.

Once it’s all cleaned up, you might want to consider getting a professional backup of your important files.

$20 for 16GB of data, $40 for 32GB of data, $80 for 64GB of data. Those prices include a USB flash drive. pcoverhaul - usb16 You’ve got plenty of time to get your computer cleaned up before school starts in the fall, but don’t wait until the last minute! This special deal lasts until August 22nd.

 

Complete Backup Solution

Most of us don’t back up our files as often as we should. As a result, we either lose important or irreplaceable photos and data, or we spend huge amounts of money trying to get them back.

WHY BACKING UP IS IMPORTANT

Hundreds of thousands of hard drives crash or die each year leading to partial or total data loss. Natural disasters such as fires, floods,

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This is what the inside of a hard drive looks like. The round discs are the platters where your data is stored. These platters are very sensitive and any damage can mean a loss of important files.

Power surges or other storm related damage destroy thousands more.

Your computer can also be infected with various viruses that can damage your files or even lock them and hold them for ransom.

One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.

70 Million smartphones are lost each year, and over 3 million are stolen. And smartphones can be hacked and infected as well.

Family photos and videos, important documents (work related and personal), large music collections, saved emails, and other files could be lost forever.

Data recovery may be possible in some cases, but depending on the problem the cost can run between $100 and $2000. And in some cases, there’s no way to recover your data.

THE BACKUP RULE OF THREE

Here’s the rule of three (or the Backup 3-2-1 rule).

A 1TB USB hard drive, Blu Ray discs, and a 128GB USB flash drive
A 1TB USB hard drive, Blu Ray discs, and a 128GB USB flash drive

♦ 3 different copies (or more) of your files.

♦ 2 different backup formats. External drive + Cloud Storage, or DVD + SD card, or USB Flash drive + email account.

♦ 1 Backup in a different location.

A COMPLETE BACKUP SOLUTION

For some people, setting up a complete backup seems confusing or too time consuming, which is where my complete backup solution comes in.

♦  A 1TB external USB hard drive is included for local backups.

♦ I will configure your computer(s) for daily backups of your important files. In the event that you don’t have the drive connected and you miss a backup (or several), it will “catch 2016-05-09_9-36-08up” whenever it is reconnected.

♦ I set up a free cloud backup solution for photos & videos. The 3 I use most often are Google Photos, Flickr, and Amazon Photos (Amazon Prime membership required).

♦ Your smartphone will also be set up for the photo and video cloud solution. This can be set up on additional smartphones and tablets as well.

♦ I will burn a  BLU-Ray of your files (50GB included) . This is your “master copy”. You can think of this as the equivalent of photo negatives back in the old days. Additional copies $10 each. These copies are good for storing offsite because they are small and light.

This leaves you with a local copy that you can access quickly, a master copy stored offsite, and a cloud solution for photos and videos that merges all the photos from any desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones into one online account for easy viewing and sharing. All the back ups will run automatically on a regular basis, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Package cost = $200

Broken down over a year, that’s 55 cents a day for a complete backup solution that will go on for years.

If you have any questions or want to schedule a time to get backed up, please contact me.

 

 

 

Amazon Prime Free Unlimited Photo & Video Storage

If you are an Amazon prime member, in addition to free two day shipping, there are a host of benefits, including free unlimited photo storage.

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If you’ve seen my post about Google Photos, you know they also offer free unlimited photo andvideo storage, but they reduce the quality slightly.2016-05-02_8-51-10

 

Amazon lets you save your photos and videos at full resolution, with an unlimited number of photos (and even supports RAW file formats), but only gives 5 GB for video and other file storage. Users with large video collections are probably better off using Google Photos, but if you are already an Amazon Prime member and only need to back up photos, this is a great option.

This is what the interface looks like after you sign in.
This is what the interface looks like once you have some files uploaded.

You can easily share your photos using a shareable link, or you can share by email, Facebook, or Twitter.

To get started, download the software here.

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Click on the file to install it.

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After installing the software, log in to your Amazon prime account.

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The program automatically selects the most used folders and checks them off. If there are folders selected that you’d rather not back up, just uncheck them.pcoverhaul-amazon-photos-select

I selected “Choose Files” under the blue Upload Folders button, because I had files and folders in a different place that I wanted to include in the backup.

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Pressing the “Select Folder” button allowed me to backup files on my external and network drives. 

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As you can see, I have a whopping 544, 363 files to back up, totaling 1.94 TB, The Amazon photos app will continue to run in the background, uploading all the time until it catches up. It’s going to take a long time, but I sleep better at night knowing everything is backed up in multiple locations.

 

 

 

Back up your iPhone

pcoverhaul iphone 1Having a current backup of the files on your iPhone is always a good idea, in case it’s lost, stolen, or damaged. Most iPhone users don’t know how to run a local backup and end up relying on the iCloud for their backups. iCloud can be a great option for small numbers of files, but the free account is limited to 5GB of files.

Backing up your phone to your computer is a better option because your computer’s hard drive is huge, so you can keep multiple backups of your files.

You can back up your iPhone using iTunes. In my case, I have a PC, but it works the same way on a Mac. Apple creates and encoded copy of your files and settings and puts them into a temporary folder. If you need to restore from the backup later, iTunes can copy all your information back to your phone, or to a new phone if you are upgrading or lost or damaged your phone.

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iTunes will back up all of your Camera Roll Photos, SMS messages (texts), settings, contacts, and your app data. It will not backup any synced music, videos, or podcasts.

iTunes performs this backup automatically anytime you sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with your computer, but it’s a good idea to do it once in a while for backup purposes.

If you need help backing up your iPhone, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you out.

 

Free & Unlimited Photo Storage From Google

Do you take lots of photos, but have no idea how to organize and back them up? I had the same problem. I have an Android phone and my wife had an iPhone, plus we had a Samsung Android tablet and and iPad. Not to mention the years of photos we had taken and scanned- terabytes of photos- that were scattered on desktops, laptops and external hard drives. There was no easy way for us to backup and access all the photos from all our various devices. And the thought of possibly losing them someday due to a broken hard drive or a natural disaster was terrifying.

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Google has a complete photo management system that solved the problem for us. It’s easy to use and free. It also offers an unlimited amount of storage, although the file size and is slightly reduced (about 40% or so). The reduction in size does reduce the quality of the photos, but if this is only a backup and not your only copy of the photos it won’t matter much.

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For smartphone users, the Google Photos app is very easy to install, and works equally well for both Android and iPhone. Install the app, and associate it with a Gmail account (or open a new one for free).  If you’re an iPhone user, Google will automatically back up all the photos in your Camera Roll, and all the new photos you take whenever you are in wifi range. Android users will also be able to select any number or all of their folders containing photos.

pcoverhaul.com google photos

 

With the desktop app, your Desktop, My Pictures, My Documents and My Videos folders (and subfolders) are selected by default. You can add as many additional folders as you’d like. In this example I have added two folders from my mapped P drive that has all my photos on it.

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2015-11-30_20-31-32If you have a large number of photos on your computer, the desktop loader may take days or even weeks to get them all uploaded.

The Google Photos Desktop App will continue to run in the background until it catches up, and then it will automatically add new photos as you save them.

In my case, I selected some very large folders and have over 46,000 pending, so it’s bound to take a while.

By logging in to the same account on the app on all your devices- Android phones, iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, Mac computers, Windows computers- the photos and videos from all those devices are all in one place.

For example, I created a new google account just for my family, installed the app on both my wife’s phone and mine, and then installed the desktop app. She can now log in from work and see photos I have taken while I am home with the kids during the day. And we can both access all those years of old photos that we took with our various digital cameras, as well as all the photos and documents I’ve scanned. Everything backed up in one place, for free.

While it certainly isn’t a full-featured editing app, the editor features a basic set of tools for enhancing your photos. Perfect for a quick correction before you post something online.

Using the autofix feature, I did a quick edit of this underexposed picture of my house.

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Before (left) and after (right) using the autofix feature in the Google Photos editor.

 

Changes you make when editing are applied to the version of the image that’s stored on Google Photos in the cloud, while the original on your device remains untouched.

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Select multiple files by dragging your finger across the screen
pcoverhaul google photos sharing
Share your photos in dozens of ways. Copy the file link for pasting into a message, or share directly into email, app or upload to social media.

Sharing the files is simple and easy.

Just select the file or files you want to share, click on the share icon, and choose how you want to share it. If you want to select a bunch in a row, you don’t have to do them one at a time. Choose the first one, then drag your finger to the last one and Google Photos selects them all.

The Assistant feature in Google Photos is truly amazing. The app chooses certain photos and works some magic with them. In some cases, it may stylize them (think Instagram filter), or add a frame. If photos are similar, the assistant may group them together into a collage. Panoramas will be created by stitching together individual shots if they line up correctly. And if you have pictures taken close enough together in time, the Assistant will throw them all together into an animated GIF file. You can save any of these creations right to your account, or delete them with a swipe of your finger.

Search by a persons face, a pace where photos were taken, or search for "things" found in photos.
Search by a persons face, a pace where photos were taken, or search for “things” found in photos.

The search feature gives you several options to find your photos and videos.

If your photos have names, or are in folders with names, those names are searchable.  But Google Photos goes further by using an algorithm to identify things in your pictures even if they aren’t named. A search for “cat” brought up hundreds of photos of both our current cat and our two previous cats.

Google Photos also gives you the option of searching by category. Here you can see it has displayed faces of some people it found in my photos. Clicking on a face shows all the other matching faces, and you can easily assign a name to any face you choose.

The places category is based on location data in the photos themselves. If you don’t have location data turned on, Google will still try to figure out where a photo is taken and put it in your places file. Somewhere like Cinderella’s Castle at DisneyWorld is going to be easy for the system to identify, for example.

The “things” category is a sort of hodgepodge, and isn’t totally accurate, but can be helpful if you only want photos with the Christmas ornaments, for example, and don’t want to sort through every picture you’ve ever taken at Christmas to find them.

At the bottom you can search your videos, as well as recently added photos, your Google Drive, and any of the creations you have saved with the Assistant feature.

 

 

 

Search by a persons face, a pace where photos were taken, or search for "things" found in photos.
Search by a persons face, a pace where photos were taken, or search for “things” found in photos.

 

I’m very familiar with the delete feature, because I often take photos in burst mode and end up putting the phone back in my pocket before the lock goes on my phone, resulting in dozens of dark blue and black photos.

Deleted photos can be recovered for 30 days, then they are gone forever. You can also go into your trash and permanently delete them whenever you’d like.

 

 

 

Google Photos does all of that and more, and will probably continue to add more features over time.  If you only need to back up photos and videos, this may be the solution for you.

 

Internet Crimes

 

Leaked Google Photos app appears, showing off automatic image sorting capabilities | PCWorld

We’ve known for some time that Google Photos would be broken away from Google+ into an app of its own, and as someone who uses Google Photos to backup photos from my phone, I’m very happy with the results.

The app will make a clean break from Google+ and give you a ton more editing, sharing, and privacy controls.

Source: Leaked Google Photos app appears, showing off automatic image sorting capabilities | PCWorld

 

Flickr Now Gives You 1TB of Free Online Photo Storage

Flickr has revamped their website and smartphone app and is now offering 1TB of free photo storage for every user. That’s 1,000 GB! You could fit 1 million photos into that much space and still have room to spare.

You need to have a Yahoo account to sign up, but they’re free and easy enough to create if you don’t have one.

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You can upload through the web, but I suggest downloading the Flickr Uploadr

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At this point, if you don’t have a Yahoo! ID, you need to create one.

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It took me about 1 minute to create my yahoo account and sign in to the Flickr service.

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Once I logged in, I was greeted with a status screen letting me know how much of my free 1 Terabyte of storage I had remaining. In this case, I haven’t uploaded anything yet so I have the full amount.

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Flickr gives you some default locations where you may or may not have photos so you can just check them off. I keep all my files on a drive on my network, so I won’t be using any of these defaults, but most people will check off the Pictures folder and possibly some or all of the others.

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If you keep photos somewhere else or want to include other locations in addition to the defaults, click the + sign at the bottom left and navigate to the folder you’d like to add.

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At this point, the Flickr Uploadr app will scan the folders and subfolders to make a list of all your files prior to uploading. In my case, it was over 250,000 photos so it took several hours before the uploading actually started.

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Now I can sit back and wait while my photos and videos are backed up online for free.

If you are a Google user, you can check out my post on how to automatically use Gmail to backup your photos taken from a smartphone.

 

How to Backup Your Facebook Data

If you’d like to backup all the data on your Facebook account, this post is for you.

To see the full list of data you can download, check out the list here.  Photos are probably the main thing most people wan to backup, followed by private messages, and those are included in the download.

Click on the little down arrow at the top right of your Facebook page and go to settings.

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Directly underneath all your general account settings is an option to download a copy of your Facebook data.

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Click on the green Start my Archive button to get the process going.

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Depending on the size of your archive, it can take a long time to create the archive. Facebook will send an email to your registered Facebook email address when it’s ready.

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At the bottom of email is a link to the archive.

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Verify your password and the download should begin.

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Once you have downloaded and extracted the .zip file, you’ll see some folders with your archived files inside them.

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A look inside my html folder shows some of the many files you can back up. Obviously these will vary depending on how much you use your Facebook account and what you do with it.

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It’s amazing some of the information you can get from these archived files, like all the IP addresses you (or anyone else) have used to log into your account. The main thing lacking from this archive is the information for all your contacts. For some reason, Facebook doesn’t allow you to back these up. Still, if your goal is to back up your messages and photos, this will do the trick.

 

World Backup Day

Have you backed up your data recently? Every day people and businesses lose huge amounts of
valuable data because they fail to run a backup of their files. World Backup Day is set aside
as a reminder to back up those important files.


If you have files that are important to you and can’t be easily replaced or recreated, you should have some sort of regularly scheduled backup. Hard drives can crash. Computers can be infected with malware and viruses. And your smartphone can be damaged, lost or stolen. Losing irreplaceable and valuable documents or photos with no way to recover them is a nightmare scenario.

pcoverhaul-files

No matter how new or secure your smartphone or computer is, it’s important to back up your
files, because even new hardware can fail. Some polls have shown that almost 40% of people
don’t have any type of backup at all, and another 15% only backup 1-2 times a year.

Malware and viruses infect roughly 1/3 of the world’s computers. There’s a whole class of
viruses that will lock your files and hold them for ransom. In most cases, even paying the
ransom won’t get your files back. If you have a current backup, you can completely wipe your
computer’s hard drive to rid it of the virus and restore your files from your backup copy.

The hard drive on your computer can also fail or crash. In those cases you may be able to recover the files by sending them to a professional data recovery lab, but that type of service is expensive. Depending on the exact problem, the cost could be anywhere from $300- $2000 and you may not even get back 100% of the data.

This laptop was damaged beyond repair in a house fire, and all the data was lost.
This laptop was damaged beyond repair in a house fire, and all the data was lost.

Any natural disaster that strikes your home or business can damage or destroy your computer and with it, your files. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can eradicate your data permanently with no chance of recovery.

Computers can be stolen, whether they are laptops, desktops, or even servers. Your data may or may not be valuable depending on who the thief is. In many cases, they wipe the hard drives to conceal who the original owner is before they sell the computer, so even if you can recover the system, your files may be gone.

More than 3 million smartphones were stolen last year- that’s more than 100 smartphones stolen every minute, each day. Another 1.4 million phones are lost every year and never recovered. Smartphones are prime targets for thieves because even more so than computers, smartphones hold loads of personal information like banking and credit card info, photos, emails, and even your whereabouts thanks to GPS location. The thief may be after your
identity or financial information and not your documents or photos, but you’re going to lose them regardless of the motive. Phones are also small and easy to conceal in a pocket or handbag, and they have a high resale value. And the first thing they will do is wipe it clean of all traces of your files.

There are dozens of other things that can happen to your files. A regularly scheduled backup
gives you peace of mind in those situations. There are several methods you can use to backup your files.

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive.

If you’re backing up a computer and have a relatively small amount of data, you can use a USB flash drive. If you have larger amounts of data you probably want to use an external hard drive. External drives are portable so they can be thrown in a laptop bag or backpack. They also allow quick access to all your files at once. There are downsides to external drives though. The drives are affected by all the same things computers are- they can be lost, stolen, damaged by natural disasters, get infected by malware and viruses and they can have mechanical failures. If your data is very valuable you should use more than one external hard drive.

Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive/Google Photos are popular for both smartphone and computer backups. They give you a small amount of space for free, and can be
accessed from anywhere on any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, PC, MAC). The problem is, one glitch and your files are gone, because there’s only one copy of your files there. If you accidentally delete a file, that deletion gets synced up to the cloud and there’s no way to get it back.

If you have an iPhone, you can back it up right to your computer using iTunes. This is nice because you only get 5 GB of space in iCloud so all your files may not fit there. Your computer probably has a ton of free space, and an iTunes backup is a complete backup of all your photos, videos, music, documents, SMS messages, call logs, contacts and apps. If you ever lose your iPhone or upgrade, just plug the replacement into your computer, open iTunes and you can restore your entire configuration from your last backup.

A Cloud Backup Service is different because it offers the ability to keep multiple versions
of your files, so if Tuesday’s backup is corrupted or encrypted from a virus infection, or
deleted by mistake, you can get the files back from Monday’s backup. You do have to pay for a
backup service like that, but if the data is important or irreplaceable, it’s well worth the
cost. If you have a large number of files to back up, you’ll find cloud backups are slower than backing up to an external hard drive. And if you ever need to retrieve a large number of files it may take hours or even days to pull them down from the cloud.

A sound backup solution would combine all these methods.

The accepted rule for backup best practices is the three-two-one rule. It can be summarized as: if you’re backing something up, you should have:

  • At least three copies,
  • In two different formats,
  • with one of those copies off-site.

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    I use Google Photos to automatically back up photos from both my smartphone and my wife’s phone whenever we are in WiFi range.

I have multiple external hard drives for my most important files, which happen to be photos. These are backed up daily. Everything is also backed up to the cloud via Google+ Photos and Amazon’s Prime storage service. I also burn Blu-Ray discs so I always have a “negative” that can’t be deleted, and store a copy of these with a relative. Both my smartphone and my wife’s smartphone are set to automatically backup to Google and Amazon whenever we have WiFi access.

Whatever method you choose, please be sure you backup your files. If you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, I’ll be happy to help you out.