Format New External Drives to Mac OS Extended before using then

You may wish to use an external FireWire, USB, or Thunderbolt  hard drive to store your files. Here are some suggestions on preparing the external hard drive for best performance with your Macintosh. Many external hard drives come pre-formatted as FAT 32. This is a native Windows file format that can be read by Mac OS X, but is not ideal for use with the Mac.  If you leave the drive in this format, it will work on both Windows and Mac computers but not provide the best performance in either.

Before you begin to use your new external hard drive, reformat it to the Mac OS Extended file system:

  1. Be sure your drive is attached and mounted.
  2. If you have already written any data to the drive, back it up before proceeding to the next step.
  3. In the Finder, choose Go > Utilities. The /Applications/Utilities folder will open.
  4. Launch Disk Utility.
  5. Click the icon for your external hard drive in the sidebar on the left.
  6. Click the Erase tab along the top of the window.
  7. From the Volume Format menu, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  8. Enter a name for the external hard drive in the Name field.
  9. Click the Erase button.

If you need to reformat a drive for use on a PC, use the exFAT format.  This will provide the best format to be used on Mac and PC.

Can virus problems on Windows get any worse?

imageJust when you thought you’d seen it all. Spyware that locks up your computer, viruses bit force your computer to crash, annoyances that pop up windows over and over, but you haven’t seen the worst of it. There is a whole new class of virus making its rounds on the Internet, and this one’s about as bad as it can get.

The industry is calling the term ransomware. And that does a pretty good job of describing it. Ransomware is a virus that once installed on your computer encrypts all of your files with a high-quality encryption key and then asks you to pay to have your files released from encryption.

The definition of ransom where is as follows:

Ransomware is a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator(s) of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.

It sounds hard to believe, or something you would only see on TV, but it’s very prevalent on the Internet right now. Typically this type of virus gets installed by normal means. Machines that are not running antivirus software, or people who either don’t read the dialog boxes that pop up or pay no attention and click on them. But once it’s installed, this virus is much more than an annoyance. It silently, and in the background, encrypts all of your files so that you can no longer open them up. If you try to open one of the files your ask for the encryption key, which the virus sets and you have no control over. Then, once it’s done all of the damage, it pops up a box on the screen requesting you to pay to get the encryption key. And they don’t ask for just a few dollars like some of the old viruses, they typically ask for between $300 and $500 to get the encryption key and unlock your files.

If your computer gets to the point that it asks you to make a payment you’re pretty much out of luck. The only hope you might have would be if you have your good back up and can recover files from the back up. But if your backup drive is connected and running all the time there’s even the chance that it’s encrypted your back up.

I’ve run into this situation twice in which even though the user was backing up their computer the backup was connected and was encrypted also.  And since these viruses use very capable encryption software, there is really no way to get your files unlocked unless you pay their fee. Most of these ask that you pay the fee through prepaid cards that you purchased at Walmart or Walgreens. You then send the card numbers to a particular website and hope that they provide you the key to unlock your files. If this sounds grim, your understanding correctly. It is.

Often, the ransomware will claim you have done something illegal with your PC and that you’re being fined by a police agency or government. These claims are absolutely false. It is just a scare tactic design to get you to pay the money without telling anyone.

So what’s a person to do? Well if you’ve already been infected with ransomware, it’s pretty much too late. Hopefully you’re back up will not be encrypted, and we can erase your computer reinstall your software, and restore your backup files. But if you’re back up is locked up also, you may just be out of luck. You could always pay the fee and hope for the best. But paying the fee encourages more of this and in the long run may cost you much more in the future.  And there’s no guarantee that your files will ever be accessible again, even if they send you a key.

If you were to pay their fee, you need to recover your files, copy them off of your computer, and then do a full erase and reinstall of the computer.

If you’re reading this, and you use Windows, your best option is to have a back up that is not connected to your computer, preferably offsite to protect you from fire and other catastrophes.  You should also reinforce the rules of safe computing within your household to ensure that no one does anything that might infect you with a virus such as this.

  • Verify that your backup is running
  • Keep your antivirus software up-to-date
  • Install spyware software and run it at least once a month
  • Don’t click on pop ups
  • Don’t update software for my pop up while you’re in the browser. Always go to the vendor website and download from there
  • Be diligent as you compute. If something looks funny don’t click on it. If you see signs that there something wrong with your computer get help immediately and don’t just hope that it will go away

If you follow a few of these rules, and ensure you have that good off-site backup, the likelihood is you can recover from something like this. But most importantly, don’t be the person who tells me they had planned to back up tomorrow when they have an occurrence such as this. Never put off till tomorrow a backup but you could run today.

Top 10 reasons people don’t have a backup

imageAt this time of year many of you will be taking photographs of your family at Christmas. When people gather around you and you click your phone or your camera to take those photos you have to realize that some of the people in those photos and in those situations may not be with us next year. How tragic it would be to not have their memory available to you in the photograph you so thoughtfully took this year. But even when you consider those things many people don’t think that they can have a loss of data on their computer.

Computers today are amazingly reliable. They can run continuously for years and never had a problem. They can store massive amounts of information and never have a problem recalling it. But computers today are still electronic devices that are susceptible to the same things seen been in the past. Electrical surges, loss due to theft, a simple drop off the table, a failing piece of hardware, are all real world problems that I see all the time. In the past having a backup may have been difficult. Backup software was hard to use or expensive to purchase. External drives to store your back up data were expensive. But none of those things should’ve stopped you then and none of those things should stop me now.

Your memories are too valuable to you to risk their loss. Hard drives are inexpensive for backup, costing less than $100 and lasting for years. But I hear all the time great reasons for not backing up your data. So if you’re one of the few people that I’ve talked with who have decided not to back up due to one of these reasons, take a minute and reflect on how silly some of the sound.

The top 10 reasons you don’t have a backup

10.  I have my important files on a thumb drive

Thumb drives are handy particularly for moving files from one place to another. But the cost of thumb drives today don’t make sense for backing up your data. Many people have hundreds if not thousands of gigabytes of data and to have enough thumb Drive storage for all of this would be prohibitive.  Plus what’s easier to lose Van a small thumb drive? Backing up your files and making this your only storage for back up is not a smart way to go.

9.  I can always use drive savers to recover my data if I have a problem.

Drive savers is a wonderful company that has saved many people by restoring unreadable and failed hard drives. They’re extremely good at what they do and unless there’s been a catastrophic drive failure can usually get the data back. But expect to pay. And pay through the nose you will.

Data recovery companies know they have you over a barrel and charge for it  The kind of clean room it takes to be able to do this kind of data recovery is expensive. I once had a client who lost their entire business due to a raid system drive failure. 14 drives RAIDed together and none of the drives failed, but the RAID controller did. The files were mission-critical and he sent them off to drive savers. Drive savers recovered every bit of data. And send him a bill for over $27,000.

So yes data recovery companies can save you. But you have to really need the data you be willing to spend that money. Many people ask me about this option in times of a loss. But only one has ever been willing to pay the cost.

8.  Backing up is too complicated

All of the commercial operating systems today have built-in backup. It’s all easy to set up and does it for you once it’s set up. It may be complicated for you to set it up but I can help you with that for 30 minutes worth of my time. And once it’s set up it does it for you. I just can’t see this as an excuse.

7.  I’ll forget to do it anyway

See item 8 above.  Once it’s set up backup can be automatic.

6.  It’s not going to happen to me

Famous last words. You may have used computers for 20 years now and never had one fail but you also now have 20 years worth of data to lose if yours fails today. Computer components are electronics. Spinning hard drives still have bearings that go out.  If you really believe it’s not going to happen to you you’re just fooling yourself. The law of averages says one day you’ll have a data loss and if you’re not prepared for it think house silly you’ll feel if this was your excuse.

5.  My data is just not that important

Some people don’t believe they create anything on the computer. They just use it for email and web surfing. They may store a few pictures but nothing really important. But thoughts change when you’ve lost data. You remember the taxes that you have stored. You remember the pictures of uncle Gus who’s no longer with us. You remember your business papers. You remember just how important your date is to you.

4.  Running a back up slows down my computer

If your backup software is set up correctly it can back up in the middle of the night when you’re not using your computer. If you’re backup is incremental you’re only copying files that have changed since the last back up. Sure, the first backup takes a long time but after that backups can happen in minutes. In the time it takes you to grab a coffee your computer could be completely backed up.

3.  Managing back up files takes time

Today’s backup systems manage their data automatically. When the drive fills up it deletes the oldest copies of the files in the back up. You never have to touch it and you never have to sort it. If you use a laptop you just have to plug the drive in periodically and let it back up.

2.  Backing up cost too much

For the cost of an external hard drive you can be completely backed up. You don’t need any expensive software because your operating system already include software to do the back up. External hard drive can be purchased for less than $100. Aren’t your memories worth that?

1.  I was going to run a back up tomorrow

How many times of I heard someone tell me that they don’t have a back up but they planned to run one tomorrow. Some people still believe tomorrow never comes. The time to back up is today not tomorrow.

So where do you fall in this list of reasons?  Do any of these sound familiar? I hear them all the time. I tweeted out about two weeks ago to people that follow me “backup backup backup” but unfortunately this week I ran into another situation where a hard drive failed and there was no backup. Don’t let this happen to you.

Take advantage of the after Christmas sales to buy a backup drive. If your backup drive is over three years old maybe it’s time to replace it with a larger one. If your date is truly important to you maybe you need two copies of a backup with one stored off site.

Perhaps a Christmas gift for yourself this year should be sitting down with me for an hour and discussing your backup plan.  It could be the best hour of consulting you’ve ever spent.

More Questions on iCloud Drive

Q: I am not really clear on the iCloud drive. Am I correct with this? First, you need to put items in the icloud drive by dragging them there? Then they should show up on the iPhone but where? Is there supposed to be an icloud drive on the phone? or the pad?  Or would the files just be available, for  example, on pages on the iPhone, since that’s where I worked on them?  This is not totally clear for me.

A: What you say makes perfect sense. Unfortunately that’s not exactly how it works.

The part on the Mac is correct drag things to the iCloud drive icon that’s in your Finder sidebar and that puts them and iCloud Drive. On your Mac you can select iCloud drive and finding those items to open them.

But on the iPhone it’s not that simple, on an iOS device the application has to support iCloud Drive. When it does it creates its own folder on iCloud drive for its specific needs.  Here is a screenshot of my my iCloud Drive.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 4.01.31 PM

Each of the folders with specialized icons is created by an application on the iOS device. Then to access the files in a particular folder, such as pages, you run the pages application on the iOS device. There is no place on the iPhone or iOS platform to look at everything that’s on iCloud drive. You also cannot look for files in other folders. For instance, if you created a home folder on your iCloud drive your iOS apps could not see it.  Each app in iOS only looks in its own folder.

And if that’s not enough, each app from iOS can only look at the root level of that folder.  If on the Mac you create subfolders, iOS cannot see them.

To be quite honest, Apple needs to clean a little of this up before it becomes really useful. For now, I only use it for apps on the phone that I want access to the files on the Mac. Not the other way around.

Hope this clears it up. But it’s not you, it’s confusing by its nature.

Apple has a page on their website that helps clear some of this up.

Dealing with junk mail in iCloud

spamYou don’t get any junk mail do you? Well I sure do. Each mail account that you have deals of junk mail a little differently. You can collect junk, spam, or just a long waste of your time, it all ends up the same, you want to get rid of it.

One of the primary addresses I use is an iCloud account and here is what Apple says about dealing with junk mail in iCloud.

iCloud automatic junk mail filtering

To minimize junk mail, iCloud uses techniques such as trend analysis, dynamic lists, and content filtering to automatically detect and block junk mail before it reaches your Inbox. However, no strategy for managing junk mail is 100% effective, so some junk mail may still reach your Inbox. The information below may help you reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive.

If you think a message may be junk mail, don’t open it

Sometimes the seemingly innocent act of opening a questionable email can alert spammers that their message was received and opened at an active email account. This can encourage more junk mail. To avoid this, you can delete any messages that look like junk mail before you view them.

You can also use the Mail app to mark messages as junk so that later messages from the same sender are automatically marked as junk:

  • In iOS 7 or later, open the message, tap the flag icon at the bottom, then tap “Move to Junk”.
  • In OS X, select the message and click the Junk (thumbs down) icon in the Mail toolbar.
  • At, select the message, then click the flag icon and choose “Move to Junk”. Or just drag the message to the Junk folder in the sidebar.

Spammers can use the email image-loading feature to determine whether your email account is active. Here’s how to keep images from loading automatically:

  • In OS X Mail, choose Mail > Preferences. In the Viewing tab, deselect “Display remote images in HTML messages”.
  • In iCloud Mail, choose Preferences from the Action (gear) pop-up menu in the sidebar. In the General tab, deselect “Load images in HTML messages”.

So those are the basics, but Apple has many other ideas that can assist you in dealing with junk mail problems in your iCloud account. Take a look at their support document for more information.

I’ve lost the predictive text bar in iOS 8

IMG_1375So here’s one that’s kind of easy to miss. People of told me that they can’t find the predictive text bar above the keyboard in iOS 8. They tell me it used to be there but now it’s gone. First I direct them to the settings under keyboard to make sure predictive text is turned on. But typically it is.IMG_1376

What normally happens is your finger accidentally slips when typing on the keyboard and makes the predictive text bar become minimized. If you notice just above the keyboard there may be a small bar at the center of the keyboard area. This bar is a slider that you can click on and drag upward to turn the predictive text bar back on. It’s pretty easy to miss, but once you notice it’s there and turn it back on it’s easy to see how he could accidentally be turned off.


My iCloud password is wrong again

imgresI believe I finally figured out why some people have so much difficulty with their Apple ID for iCloud passwords. And believe it or not I don’t think it’s truly their fault.

So here’s a common scenario I see with people who use iCloud for sending mail. Out of the blue, you try to send an email on your iOS device or even your computer and you get the message that your user ID or password is incorrect. It typically seems kind of odd to you because you may have just sent an email a few seconds before without any difficulty. So what’s a person to do?

All too often people go into their iCloud settings and try to change their password by reentering it. But unfortunately this is the wrong thing to do.

One thing that Apple needs to get a handle on is why iCloud seemingly goes off-line over and over again day after day for short periods of time. I see this myself almost on a daily basis. I tried to send an email and get that dreaded your password is wrong message. But what the message really should say is iCloud is off-line again. Rather than going and trying to change the password,  if you just leave the message in the outbox and trust that eventually when Apple gets iCloud working, probably within the next few seconds that email message will get sent.

What I see happening is people go in to try to change their password and either get it wrong or it still doesn’t work and then resort to trying to reset their password time after time. The whole process of resetting your password in iCloud is not without trouble also. Many times you ask it to send you an email to do the reset and the email never comes through or the email gets caught in a junk mail filter.

The right thing to do during the short iCloud glitches is to just chill out and leave the message alone. When you start down the path of trying to reset your password and you do it very often you typically get things messed up. Either the password reset didn’t take or you’ve changed it so many times and added to your normal password so many times you can’t get it right again.

So here’s my recommendation to those people but text me and tell me their iCloud password is wrong again. Take a chill, have a cup of coffee, or a stronger drink if you feel the need, and wait for at least 30 minutes before you try to do a reset on your password.

If you want to speed up things many times you can go into the outbox open up that email that you tried to send and press send again. Yes, you shouldn’t have to do that but again iCloud mail doesn’t seem to be perfect and trying to fight the iCloud password game typically ends up as a losing proposition.

Adobe Provides iPhoto Import for Lightroom

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 5.37.37 PMWhen Apple announced earlier this year that it would discontinue aperture and come out with its own new application called Photos for the Mac, many people didn’t know what the future of iPhoto was. But since then Apple has indicated that iPhoto’s future is limited.  So while we wait for the new photos application, it makes good sense to look at other options for dealing with our large photo collections after iPhoto’s demise.

The primary photo organization application on the market is Adobe’s Lightroom. Lightroom is an excellent application for organizing photos, and remains my choice for photo management for for advanced photo users.. But iPhoto was definitely easier to use and provided operating system integration for Mac users that was second to none. While we wait and see what the new Photos app brings, Adobe has moved forward and provided an ability for us to import iPhoto libraries into their Lightroom product. The truly amazing thing is that Adobe’s importer not only imports photos but also much of the organization that we used inside iPhoto.

In the latest update to Lightroom, Version 5.7, Adobe included it’s own custom plug-in designed to import as much as possible from your Aperture catalog into Lightroom. Adobe’s tool will retain all of the following metadata:

  • Flags
  • Star Ratings
  • Keywords
  • GPS Data
  • Faces (face naming tags are mapped to keywords)
  • Rejects (files designated as Rejects in Aperture will be imported into Collections >
  • Photos Hidden in iPhoto)
  • iPhoto events/folders/albums will be mapped as closely as possible into Lightroom collection sets and collections

​A few things are lost in the transition, but they’re quite understandable:

  • Image adjustments
  • Smart Albums
  • Face Tag Region of Interest (face naming tags are mapped to keywords)
  • Color Labels (other than optionally as keywords)
  • Any kind of creation (books, web galleries, etc) other than the collections that correspond to them

I am boarded all 26,000 photos for my iPhoto library and the importer did a terrific job. I was quite impressed with its ability to be able to organize things in similar fashion to what I used in iPhoto.

Apple’s new photos app may be absolutely amazing, and certainly should have the ability to import iPhoto libraries, but until we see what Apple comes around with this certainly is an option for folks that want to move forward particularly if they want to get into more advanced photo organization and editing.