I’ve got more passwords than I can count. Work email, Personal email. Facebook, Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest. LinkedIN, Online Banking. Every single credit card. The Patient portal for my doctor’s office (and my childrens portals as well). Netflix, Hulu, Plex, Reddit, Ancestry, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Verizon for cable, Sprint for my cell phone, Online shopping at Amazon, Kohl’s, Target, Old Navy, Home Depot, Sears, eBay… it’s easy to forget all the places where we have online accounts. and how many passwords we’re using.
in fact, the average computer user has over 130 passwords to remember. And the worst thing you can do from a security standpoint is use the same password for every site because it makes a hackers job much easier.
Lastpass is a web based app that allows you to save all your different passwords in one vault, out in the cloud, and set one master password to get that vault open. Your password vault is encrypted so even the team at LastPass can’t access your passwords. Set one secure password for the vault and never worry about remembering each and every site password ever again. I suggest a long phrase that’s easy to remember and type. For example, I might choose Chara33BigZchamps2011 or Gronkspike87NEpatsSBx4
With my one master vault password, I can log in and access literally 1000’s of passwords I would certainly have forgotten. This is especially true for those sites you only visit once or twice a year.
Another nice feature included in Lastpass – you can create multiple profiles containing all your contact info, like the stuff they ask for every time you sign up for a website – and lock them down with the vault password too. My PC Overhaul profile has my name, street address, phone number, credit card, date of birth and credit card numbers for the business. When I go to a site to buy parts for a customer, the checkout process is simple. I click on my PC Overhaul profile in lastpass and it fills all that information in for me. And you can have as many different profiles as you want. I have a profile for work, another for personal purchases, and a 3rd for web forums (using my spam email account).
Lastpass also has the ability to create randomized secure passwords for you. This is handy if you always plan on using Lastpass to log in to sites, but won’t be helpful otherwise.
Once you have it installed, whenever you go to a site with a saved password, lastpass offers to autofill the username and password fields for you. You enter the vault password and can choose not to be prompted for the vault password for a period of time. If you know you will be in front of the computer for 3 hours, you can set it to leave the vault open for that long, and after that time anyone with access to your system will be asked for the master vault password again to get in.
There are literally dozens of handy features to lastpass, especially considering it’s a free app, I highly recommend you check it out.
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.
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.
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.
You can easily share your photos using a shareable link, or you can share by email, Facebook, or Twitter.
After installing the software, log in to your Amazon prime account.
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.
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.
Pressing the “Select Folder” button allowed me to backup files on my external and network drives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are a Google user, you probably have a lot of information stored in your various Google accounts. All your emails, contacts, photos, Google drive files, and even your location data is all out there on the cloud. Now there’s a simple interface for downloading all that data for back up or archiving.
Google Takeout is not new, but it has been redesigned to make the interface easier to use.
After opening the app, you see a list of all the different types of data you can archive. Just check the box next to the data you’d like to download.
You can touch the arrow to the left of the check mark to see additional options. For items like contacts, bookmarks, SMS messages or location data a file is created with all the data in it and there aren’t any options to configure. But in some cases you can be more selective about what exactly you back up.
For example, under Google Drive, you can choose to include everything you have uploaded to your online storage account, or select only specific files, folders or even only files of a certain type.
Under Google Photos, you can also back up everything or select individual albums. I use Google+ for my online photo storage, so I happen to have a large number of albums (over 800 just in 2014) to back up.
And if you’re downloading your gmail data, you can archive the entire account (complete with attachments) or extract only the folders that are important to you.
Once you’ve decided what you want to archive, you can choose your format and delivery method.
Google will let you know when your archive is ready for download. I selected my entire account while I was creating this post, and I am still waiting a week later, so please be patient if you have selected a large amount of data.
Adjustyourprivacy.com allows you to easily check your privacy settings on a large number of social media sites. It also lets you view both your Facebook and Google+ profiles as “public” users so you can see what it looks like to a stranger. Simple, effective and best of all, free!
You probably don’t know exactly where you were 3 weeks ago today at a specific time. But if you own a device with an Android OS, Google may be able to help you remember.
You may or may not remember being asked during the initial setup whether you wanted to allow Google to collect “Location Data”. Google takes this data from your phone or device and uses it to track where you are going, how fast, and how far you travelled from your original location.
This is how Google maps provides up to date traffic info. For example, if 100 drivers with this feature activated are on a stretch of highway during rush hour, Google can estimate what traffic is like by checking how far each of them have moved in a certain time period, and can notify drivers further back to avoid that section of highway. They can also see which lanes are moving faster than others or which lanes may be closed completely due to an accident.
None of this data collection is new -Google has been gathering this information from users for years. Many people have no idea Google is collecting this data or that they can keep it forever even after giving them permission.
You can view your history by signing in to your Google Account (gmail) then clicking this link to access your Google Location History.
Use the calendar to browse individual days or even view a week or a month of time all at once. By dragging your mouse over the points on the map you can “play back” your entire day. At the bottom you can view the timeline of each day, which can also be navigated by clicking and dragging from left to right.
You can see I only left the house once today, around 4:45pm to go to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner (mmm, the rolls!). Let’s say I didn’t want that trip out to dinner recorded for some reason – I can click on the points I don’t want in my history and delete them.
You can also delete the history for any single day, or all of your history.
It can be interesting to look back and see where you were on a certain day, or even try to remember WHY you were in a certain place on a certain day. It can also be scary to have this kind of information floating around out there, so some of people may want to wipe their location history.