Support Local Schools & Charities With Amazon Smile

As a local small business owner myself, I know how important is to shop at other local businesses as much as possible. In my case, many of the tools and parts I need to repair computers can’t be found locally, so I shop for them online. But there’s a way to shop online and still support local schools, charities and other organizations by using Amazon Smile.

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Undoubtedly the biggest online retailer in the world is Amazon.com. You can find almost anything, and if you have a Prime subscription, you can get most orders in two days with free shipping or overnight for $3.99. (You also get access to Amazon Prime video, a Netflix alternative, and Amazon Photos, a free cloud backup service for your photos and videos). With service like that it’s no surprise people use Amazon from everything from books to electronics.

There’s a way you can shop on Amazon and still support local schools, charities and other organizations of your choice. All you need to do is go to Smile.Amazon.com instead of Amazon.com, and a percentage of some of your purchases will be donated to the charity of your choice.

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Sign in with your amazon account, and you can select a charity.

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There are some great charities suggested on the right hand side of the page, or you can search for one in the box at the bottom. I decided to search for my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts.

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There are literally dozens of great local organizations, but I decided to refine my search and specifically look for something to support local schools.

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I chose the Oldham Elementary School PTO because I have a child in the school now and one who will be attending in 2 years and I know they really need the help with fundraising.

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Whenever I place an order that qualifies, Amazon Smile notifies me with a little message to remind me that a donation has been made to my charity.

Here are my contributions to the Oldham Elementary School PTO so far and the total they have brought in from all Amazon Smile users.

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It feels good knowing I am helping an organization that’s important to me while I shop. There’s no extra cost to do it and all you have to do is use smile.amazon and you can be raising money for a cause that’s near and dear to you. You can also change your charity at any point, so you can spread your donations around.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

Amazon Laptop Wizard

I was checking out some deals on Amazon.com for Cyber Monday and noticed this wizard on the laptop and notebooks page.

I've highlighted the things I plan to do with the laptop and on the right, Amazon calculates the specs I need.
I’ve highlighted the things I plan to do with the laptop and on the right, Amazon calculates the specs I need

 

Just click the “Show Me” link to see the laptops that meet your criteria. A handy way to narrow down the hundreds of choices to the laptops that fit your criteria.

 

How Many People Visit The Top Websites Daily?

This infographic only shows hits from the United States but still gives some pretty interesting stats for Google, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon and all the other big names.  The numbers are pretty impressive.

Via GrowTraffic

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See the history of items on Amazon.com

Today’s handy free site is Camelcamelcamel, which checks and reports the price of items sold on Amazon.com/ You can use this info to see if a product has been going up or down in price before you decide to buy it. Sometimes waiting a little while can save you some money.

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