Category Archives: Computers

The Difference Between Syncing and Backups

What’s the difference?

When you back-up your data, that is a different thing from syncing your data. A back-up is a copy used for safety and archiving.  It’s not supposed to change. When a glitch, breakdown, or an accident happens, you can revert or refer to a back-up to get the original, un-FUBAR’d copy of whatever it is you lost or was corrupted.

A back-up what you go back to in case something happens to your current set-up.  When you have a back-up strategy and keep you back-ups current, if something happens to your data today, you won’t lose much time recreating your data since you have a recent copy close by.

Syncing — keeping multiple copies stored and updated to current versions — is what you do so you can access the same data across computers and/or devices. When you’re synced, you can access the same data wherever you go, whatever you use. This helps people on the move keep their data updated whether they access it at home, on the go, or at work, as long as their devices are online.

Having a reliable back-up means that if you suffer the blue-screen of death or whatever mishap that takes your system down, versioning can help you roll-back to an un-infected or uncorrupted state. Having reliable syncing enabled means you’re updated wherever you are, whatever you use. Continue reading The Difference Between Syncing and Backups

How Much Do You Know About Digital Hygiene?

The fact that you’re scanning this proves that you have a device that connects you to the internet and lets you read on it. It doesn’t even have to be a personal computer, as the smartphone revolution has given billions of people access to the world wide web than ever before.

This means you have a digital device, a digital presence, and a digital foot-print. Whatever device you use — computer, tablet, phablet or smartphone — you have an internet connection and online accounts (email, social media) that lets you talk with other people. You probably have more than a few online profiles.

If you own an online business, even better. You have all that and pay for a domain name and registration, security certificates, and hosting for your website, as well as own business information, customer information, and mailing list data.

Data Storage Solutions, the original article that inspired this one, was written way back when flash drives were just starting to be a thing. To say that a lot has changed since then would be a massive understatement. Now more than ever, you have to be more digitally savvy of how to handle your on-line accounts and data resources.

On a universal level, security is vital. You protect your privacy and your data, it’s just common sense. Hackers can compromise your identity — not just your online persona, but your identity. They can hold your data hostage, or ruin your brand. One breach, and the integrity and security of your data can be devastated. Four words: credit-card identity theft. Which is just one example.

On the street there are ATM skimmers, online there are phishers, brute-force hackers, malware and ransomware.  On your side of the computer screen there’s, well — there’s you. When was the last time you checked if you had a strong password? Have you added 2-step authentication to all your important accounts? And get this — do you actually remember the answers to your security questions? Continue reading How Much Do You Know About Digital Hygiene?

How To Save Money On Your Computer

The first step into this discussion is thorny: Do you want a new computer, or do you need a new computer?

The second step sets the limits to the discussion: How much money do you have for it?

Your answers define what comes next: 1) what are your options = wide range of possibilities 2) what are your needs = narrower range of options.

 

Maybe in the past there have been times when it was easier and faster for you to use money to solve an issue. That was your choice then and it still is now. Of course, it’s still up to you to decide how to make the best use of your funds and get the best value out of your money. No one else will be as invested in the outcome as you, so if you don’t want to make time to think about your purchase, whatever happens, you deal with the consequence.

If you’ve been debating with yourself for a while now on whether to get a new computer or stay with what you’ve got and just go for upgrades, the discussions in the comments section of the following articles (all from The Simple Dollar) are fertile ground, showing an in-depth decision process of getting a new computer, or exploring other options to improve the performance of the equipment you already have. Whether you need a laptop or a desktop, there’s good advice on what factors to consider, and what you can do to make your computer future-resistant.{more}

Continue reading How To Save Money On Your Computer

The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Archiving

31 August 2010, by Ariadne Cedilla

What’s the purpose of archiving your electronic data?

Preservation. Simply put, archiving, in this sense, is preservation. Of memories (vacation photos, wedding videos, the Family Reunion Of Which You Do Not Speak Of, etc.) and data (like photographs, business documents, scripts, novels, music etc.) that are static and won’t change.

Revisions and retouching aside, archiving stabilizes and stores a set of information that you can use for reference, proof and perhaps most vital of all, connection.

  • Need the very first “final version” of the company handbook before the current set of revisions got too bulky? Here you go.
  • A lawsuit is threatening to come down on your company due to what the opposition claims is shoddy work? You pull out the pics to prove it just ain’t so.
  • A dispute rises over the contract? You got it in writing, and with the digital signatures all in place.
  • You have a lifetime’s worth of photographs. You want it to last beyond your lifetime, so your great-grands can get to know you even after you’re gone.
  • Want to show your kids that yes, Mama was a natural blonde before puberty hit and her hair got darker? Sure.
  • Your in-laws want to see the ultrasound? You want your as-yet-unbaked bun-in-the-oven to get to see it? You got it.
  • You have something you need to say, something you want the world to know. Share it across time.

Insurance (as back-up) is secondary (but a close second) in this case. If you’ve done your back ups according to plan, you’re covering those bases. Archiving is simply making sure that any data you have that’s important to you is stored, safely, uncorrupted, and available in a way/medium that will survive time and technological changes.
Continue reading The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Archiving

The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Online Data and Syncing

In Protect Your Data, we set-up the basic guidelines in making a back-up plan. In this section, we’ll cover a few more things you can do to keeping the your online data safe and synced.

The issues:

  • It’s definitely simpler to do back up when you only have one computer, but what if you have more? And what if you’re not the only user?
  • Plus, you probably have other data, on-line, that you want backed up as well.

So, this article will lay out the issues with multiple computers, multiple users and backing up your on-line data.

  1. A single user with one PC is the simplest scenario. Maybe two external hard-drives (one back-up is not enough!), a CD/DVD burner, and some high quality blank optical media should be good enough to start with. Pull on-line storage like Mozy, Dropbox and Carbonite into the mix, you can secure your data easily. Flash drives can be life-savers as well.
  2. Single user, many PCs/devices would require syncing software (Dropbox offers this with its online storage as well), a detailed schedule for back ups, and more thought as to what you need to back up, and where. RAID array, a home server, online storage? The speed of your internet connection will also affect upload and download times.
  3. Many users, one PC means also backing up various profiles and personal data. You have to hammer out agreements as to what will be backed up and when would the best time to do it for the people involved.
  4. Many users, many PCs would involve syncing, and centralizing shared media, as well as customizing information access and flow. For personal units, it would be best if each user takes responsibility for his or her own data and unit.

Continue reading The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Online Data and Syncing

The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Protect Your Data

When it comes to backing up data, there are only 2 groups of people involved. The first group are people who have lost data, like those who have had hard-drives die on them, or were exposed to the Virus that Ate The Internet. The second covers those who haven’t had the pleasure of that particular experience. Yet.

But it’s only a matter of time, statistically speaking. And you can never predict when, or how it will happen. Brand new drives die a few days out of the box, while older ones faithfully chug on for years. You bed down for the night, as your laptops purrs on, worry-free. The next morning a howl of disbelief shatters the early morning silence of the dormitory. “I didn’t DO anything!”
“Are you sure, dude?”
“YES!”
“Uh, download anything new last night?”
“Nuh–oh?”

Then, “Oh, crap.”

The drive can’t be detected. The laptop falls due to your cat’s panicked antics, and you can’t get it to boot. Your sippy cup wasn’t fastened as tightly as you thought it was. Viruses, trojans, hackers and theft. Lightning strike, fire, water from a leaky pipe…you just don’t know.

Thus, back-up. There’s something you need to understand about back-up, though:

Back-up is not a guarantee, unless and until you test it (data verification) and even then, stuff happens. Back up is insurance, and as with any kind of insurance, back up comes in handy after a loss of some sort. See the difference now? And as with any kind of insurance, you need a plan that suits your needs.
Continue reading The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Protect Your Data

The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 4

To cap the series, here’s a wrap up of the most salient bits and pieces to The Savvy Thinker’s Guide: Laptops, Netbooks and Desktops.

Everything depends on the user. The computer is just a tool, the user decides what to do with it. Get what makes your life easier, but don’t let the decision-making process take it over. If you can’t narrow your must-have specs, try making a list of nice-to-haves, real-sweet-but-I-can-wait, and could-be betters. Work your way up from there.

Surface thinking about computers is about your fantasies. You fall in lust with the implicit power of the image, you pay a premium for that power, but will you use it to the best of its capacity? To get a computer that will serve you best you need to know what you need, and where you’ll use it, as well as how much you’re prepared to pay for it. (And how long you plan to hang onto it.)

New models and incremental performance improvements come down the manufacturing pipeline at a near predictable rate, if you listen to the manufactures and tech sites. A unit that reliably serves your purposes for the length of its expected lifespan is the key, anything beyond that is a bonus– and good maintenance skills. Continue reading The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 4

The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 3

Laptops have come a long way from those boxy, briefcase-sized prototypes you may have grown up with. And while there are still some work-horse models out there built for rugged use and hard-shocks, there are also the sleek, matte –ahem, airy-looking models… airy, geddit?– that are so thin you could slide them into a large manila folder and they could pass for a year-end accounting report.

So why a laptop?

  • You can carry it wherever you need to go. Period.
  • You’re used to a laptop.
  • You’re a mobile worker, and you need to have a computer that can go with you as a partner, not a side-kick.

At this point, laptops are just portable desk-tops with smaller monitors and a comparatively higher price tag. Student, mainstream, business and gaming, there’s a laptop for every need and and every budget ( there are outlets for refurbished ones too, just so you know.)
Continue reading The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 3

The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 2

Netbooks are like the tea-cup chihuahuas of the computing world. Mini-laptops, they’re designed to be light-weight (in the most literal sense) tools to help you connect to the Internet and accomplish lightweight (figuratively speaking) tasks like browsing, email, word processing and watching streaming video (Standard netbooks don’t come with optical disc drives for CDs/DVD’s, those things bring the weight up.) That’s it.

To emphasize and summarize: Don’t expect these little darlings to do what they’re not specced for. Netbooks are secondary computers, with limited capabilities that come locked in with the feather-weight status and the extreme portability. That’s why they’re called net-books. You connect to the internet, watch a few vids, and do light-duty computing. Period. They’re aides, not partners. At least for the moment.

Ahem. To continue: On the outside, there appears to be a lot of variation in netbook models: glossy covers vs. matte, sea-shell configuration, chiclet keyboards vs. traditional, etc. As a group, however, because of the common size and weight constraints they come with basic specs and similar hardware. Continue reading The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops 2

The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops

So, it’s time to get another computer, and you asked around for the latest pointers. Your cubicle-neighbor at work touts the coolness of her netbook when she’s working on her novel during lunch breaks — you can type with one hand and hold your sandwich in the other, how neat is that? — while your best friend gleefully rubs your face in the awesome powers of his gaming laptop.

Meanwhile, your uncle clucks irritably at all the shiny toys that manufacturers come up with to boost sales, all the while praising the merits of his reliable desk top, the one he’s had for years. You know, the one so steady he’s only had to upgrade the monitor (and add some RAM, plus fiddle a bit with a more powerful CPU and motherboard, an extra hard disk…) to make watching movies and reading on-line easier. With so many options out there, there’s bound to be one for you.

Now, whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned online- electronic bargain hunter, it’s a cinch that you can access all the information you need on-line to make an informed choice about the best computers out there, but this article series isn’t about that access.

Well, not entirely, anyway.

This article is about thinking through the process of picking a computer to fit your needs. This way, you not only get to pick the best computer out there, but also the best computer for you. And if anyone else you know is having problems picking a new computer for themselves, you’re there to give your improved take on the whole thing. Hold up on the impulse buy, hang onto your credit card, and let’s just think things through. Continue reading The Savvy Thinker’s Guide to Netbooks, Laptops And Desktops