Application Specific Passwords for your iCloud Account

App-specific passwords allow you to sign in to your account securely when you use apps that don’t natively support two-step verification or two-factor authentication. There has been quite a bit of conjecture on the internet that very soon, any non Apple application that access iCloud data, like Microsoft Outlook, and specifically Windows machines accessing iCloud information will be required to use an application specific password.

Before creating app-specific passwords, two-factor authentication must be enabled for your Apple ID. As of iOS 10.3 and later, two-factor authentication is automatically setup for new Apple ID accounts. iOS 10.3 also auto-prompts existing accounts to upgrade. This makes sense as apple has been pushing people to use two-factor authentication now in many ways.

To make an app-specific password, do the following:

  1. Sign in to your Apple ID account page at https://appleid.apple.com
  2. In the Security section, click Generate Password below App-Specific Passwords.

  3. Fill in a name for the password you are creating so you can remove it if you desire later
  4. A dialog will come up and show you the password that was generated

  5. After you generate your app-specific password, enter or paste it into the password field of the app as you would normally.

You can have up to 25 active app-specific passwords at any given time. If you need to, you can revoke passwords individually or all at once.

If you want to revoke one of these application specific passwords, in the security section of your applied management page, click on edit.  Then under App specific passwords, click View History.  You will be shown a list of all the application specific passwords you have used.  Click on the one you want to remove and click to remove it.

Get used to this because tighter security is coming to an iCloud account near you very soon.

Which Hard Drive do I choose for backing up my Macintosh or my PC?

Q: With all the choices, which Hard Drive do I choose for backing up my Macintosh with Time Machine or my PC?

A: I wish there was a simple answer, but unfortunately there isn’t one.  Choosing a backup drive involves a number of factors that need to be take into account.  Many of these factors depend on the type of machine you have and the size of your original harddisk.  In this article, I am going to look at a number of decision points and attempt to provide some assistance in making that selection.

Internal vs External

Raw drives are drive mechanisms that are sold without a case,   These drives are intended to be installed inside the computer box.  For Mac users, this decision point is simple.  None of the current or recent Macintosh machines can support adding an internal drive.  If you use a PC, and have a tower yo use an internal drive but then you have to open the case and install it.  While usually not too difficult to do, it just adds one more possibility to get things configured wrong.  There was a time where raw drives were much less expensive but that time has passed. So, in my opinion, external is the answer.

Brand

These day, there are many brands of drive available at your local Staples or Best Buy.  The brand of the drive actually has little to do with the quality of the unit.  The actual harddisk mechanism inside the box is likely made by 1 of 3 manufacturers and telling the difference between them is not really important.  It really all boils down to case design, interfaces and price.

Don’t be fooled by vendors that want you to spend more money for either a “Mac” version of a drive or for a “premium” model.  The drive mechanism is likely the same part.  Mac formatted drives are just that, pre formatted for a mac.  That is no big deal because you can easily reformat a PC formatted drive on the Mac.  In fact, time machine recognizes a new drive plugged in and asks to reformat it if it is a PC model.  Don’t pay extra for this formatting alone.

Also don’t pay extra for backup software.  Time Machine, which is a builtin feature of MacOS 10.5 Leopard or newer, is better than any of these backup solutions that ship with new drives.  Only consider backup software if you are using 10.4 or older on a Mac and in my opininon, your money is better spent upgrading a current MacOS release to do your backups if your machine will handle it.

For PC users, it depends on the operating system.  In Windows 7 or 8, backup is a control panel that you can configure.  In Windows 10, it is called File History.  Select the Start​ button, select Settings > Update & security > Backup > Add a drive, and then choose an external drive or network location for your backups.

All that said, I do have a couple of favorite brands.  Both Seagate and Western Digital make fair priced external drives that work very well.  There are a number of models available and best of all, you can get them locally at the Best Buy of Staples store.  When I recommend a drive, I choose one of these two.  One of them is usually in the weekly ad from Best Buy or Staples and on sale.

Desktop vs Portable drive

Either a desktop or portable drive will work fine.  Portable drives are usually smaller, have less capacity, and cost more.  If you are using a desktop Mac, purchase a desktop drive.  There is little reason to spend the extra for the portable one.  If however you are using a laptop, you may want to still purchase a desktop drive.

Desktop drives are usually made from a more available, more reliable and larger mechanism.  These drives usually use a 3 ½” drive mechanism.  These drives are available in larger sizes and at less cost.  Portable drives use a 2 ½” mechanism just like those used in laptops.  These are smaller, have less capacity, use less power, but cost more.

One important consideration is that a Desktop drive will need to be plugged into electricity while a portable drive usually is self powered from the USB or the Firewire bus.  This is nice for travel since you don’t have to plug it in to power, just the computer.

If you own a laptop, but use it quite a bit in one place, a desktop drive is likely a better solution.  If you want a backup drive that can travel with you, choose a portable drive for that application.

Size

My recommendation is to think of the future and purchase a drive as large as you can afford.  You will be amazed at how data accumulates and how fast you fill the drive you have.  Raw drive mechanisms are available as large as 6Tb today.  External desktop drives are available that large also but the real sweet spot here today is the 2Tb or 3Tb drive.  Portable drives are available as large as 4Tb with their sweet spot being at the 1TB to 2TB level.

On a Mac Time machine is very smart.  It will use all the space you give it and continue to keep copies of data from the past.  The general thing to remember is always select a drive twice the size of the internal drive you want to backup if you can.  This way you have plenty of space for multiple backups in time machine.  This gives you the most flexibility.

On a PC, you may need to ‘prune’ you backup when it fills the drive,  You can manage the backup space in the same location that you setup the backup in Windows.

Interface (ports)

Drive makers, including Western Digital and Seagate make many models.  One of the many considerations for drive pricing is the type of interface ports the drive has.  Some of the common interfaces you’ll see are:

USB – all drives these days include USB 3.0.  USB 3 drives are backward compatible with USB 2 so no matter if your machine supports only USB 2, get a USB 3 or 3.1 drive.  Newer machines may have a USB-C style connecter so be sure to check that out before bringing a drive home.  If your machine supports USB-C, use that connection because it will provide the fastest throughput.  If the drive you chose still uses a USB 3 port, a cheep USB-C to female USB 3 adapter can be had for less than $10.

Firewire – In past years, I would have always recommended that you use Firewire.  But these days, Firewire is a dead technology.  If you have a Firewire port on your computer and you want to use it, be sure to select a drive that has both a Firewire and a USB interface to future proof your purchase.  Firewire drives may be hard to find since the technology is being phased out..  Some Macs like the new Macbooks and Macbook Air do not have Firewire at all.

eSATA – External SATA.  SATA is the native interface od all of todays drives.  The External version of this is called eSATA.  This connection is only available on some tower PC’s and is problematic so I recommend considering it.

Ethernet – This port allows a drive to work connected directly to an Ethernet network.  It is technically called Network Accessible Storage or NAS.  This is what Apple did in the time capsule (a great but more expensive backup unit).  Having this port allows a drive to hang on a network rather than be connected to a machine.  But, it is important to note, these drives are not compatible with Time Machine unless you use the Apple Time Capsule.  If you need some extra traditional storage that you may want to share, this is a good option but for Time Machine, it is is only a consideration if the drive is advertised to support it.  One such drive is the Western Digital My Cloud.  It supports time machine and a lot more. I use one as a secondary backup and while not as fast as directly attached storage, it works great.

So what do you get?  My recommendation here is to get a drive uses USB 3.  Some newer drives may have USB-C connections, and I suspect we will see this a lot more in the future but for now, converting to USB-C if that is the only port your machine has (2015, 2016 MacBook or 2016 MacBook Pro) is simple and inexpensive.

Price

Drive prices have dropped a lot lately.  Price should be one of the last things to think about.  My recommendation is to purchase drives near the sweet pricing spots I described above.  These are the ones in the Sunday circulars. Again, I recommend you purchase a drive as large as you can afford.  Larger drives above the sweet spot size will cost a little more and are usually fine choices if you have a great deal to backup.  These larger drives will become tomorrow’s sweet spot and cost will go down.

What will it cost?  Today, in February 2017, an 1 Tb USB external drive costs between $59 and $79 depending on features and sales.  A desktop 5Tb drive runs about $129 to $149.  With prices this low, more is always better.

Conclusions

All this is probably much more than you want to know about backup drives.  These conclusions will be my opinions of what you should get in a nutshell:

•    Consider as a first choice a Western Digital or Seagate drive
•    Get a desktop Model unless you need to backup your laptop on the road
•    Size the drive a minimum of twice the size of your internal drive
•    Get a drive with a USB 3 port even if you don’t have a computer with USB 3. Someday you will and USB 3 is much faster than USB 2.
•    Watch the weekly circulars.  Drives are always on sale

Q: How do I print labels from Apples Pages Program?

A:  I am making the assumption that you have labels purchased that go into your printer.  If that is not the case, let me know.

First you need to get a template for the label material you have.

Here is a page with lots of these templates.
Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.09.23 AM
If your labels are Avery, the ones at the bottom correspond to Avery label numbers

After you download the template go to the top of the Safari window and click the downloads button.

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Once you click on it, double click on the document template you download.

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This brings up this dialog:

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Select Add to Template Browser.

Now the template is loaded in Pages and you can start your new labels.

Now pages should start and put you in the new document mode.  On the left is the My Templates dialog.  Select the template you just downloaded.

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Double click the templet to get started. This will open a new label sheet in pages and have all the labels created.

Now you can type the label into the document and when done print the page.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.08.00 AM

How to Backup your Critical iCloud Information

icloud-experiencing-issuesIn the early days of iCloud, it was very common for something to go drastically wrong and iCloud and delete or scramble your data. After seeing this happen many times, I had gotten into a routine where I would back up my critical information by hand from iCloud.  For the last few years I haven’t seen this problem and have become quite complacent about it. Unfortunately, complacency generally feeds disaster, and in my case that almost happened.

The great thing about iCloud is that you can change something one time and it synchronizes around to all of your devices keeping them all up-to-date. Unfortunately that’s also the Achilles’ heel. If something goes wrong on anyone device or if you accidentally delete something from one device it synchronizes to all your devices and the information that you had before may be permanently lost. Such was my recent case with iCloud.

Somewhere along the line in updating to iOS 9.0 or 9.1, and updating my Mac to El Capitan, I came to notice that my Safari bookmarks or not the same as they used to be. Looking at them closely I saw that many of my bookmark categories had been duplicated, others had been rearranged, and if you were missing entirely. It seems that one of those upgrades did something nasty to my bookmarks. And since I had gotten out of the habit of backing up my critical information by hand, my only choice was to go back and fix them all by hand and let them sync again. So that’s exactly what I had to do. I set down at my Mac and made all my changes to get my bookmarks back as nearly as they had looked before the problem.

While investing a couple hours and cleaning up my bookmarks was probably not devastating, it did point out to me that continuing the routine of backing up your critical iCloud information makes good sense.

So what information do you consider critical? For me, that would be my contacts, calendars, Safari bookmarks, and my notes. Apple provides a method to back up by hand the first three but unfortunately the new notes application lacks that ability. So here’s how to handle a back up of the first three pieces of critical information that iCloud stores:

Contacts
Open the contacts application on a mac and go to the file menu and select export. Next select export archive from the menu. Pick a location to store your back up, and name it something that has the date included. This way you’ll be able to tell the newest one if you need to recover.

Calendars
Again on a Mac, open your calendars application go to the file menu, select export, and export a calendar archive. If you’ve been keeping track of calendars for a long time this may take a few minutes. It will again ask a location and I typically use the same naming convention I did with my contacts.

Safari bookmarks
Open Safari on your Mac, and select File and then Export Bookmarks. Pick the same location to store your back up, and name it something that has the date included.

Notes
When it comes to notes that’s another story. You can export individual notes as a PDF file but backing up hundreds of notes that way would be difficult.  If you want to dig down into the bowels of your computer, your notes file is actually stored in…

~/Users/<username>/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes

Once you selected that folder, you can simply go to the edit menu and say copy. Then paste that file into your backup location. If you can’t find it from the path you probably don’t need to be down in these folders in the first place.

Next I set a calendar alarm to remind me to do this once a month. By doing this monthly I am sure myself but for some reason iCloud has a hiccup, my information will be easily recoverable and reloadable.

iOS9: How about some tips and tricks

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 3.45.27 PMHere are some of the best iOS 9 tips and tricks that I have found since it’s introduction.

  • Proactive Assistant – New search feature accessed by swiping right from the home screen. You can turn it off in Settings> General> Spotlight searching
  • Keyboard – Many folks complained about the inability to tell whether the “caps” key was engaged or not. So, Apple gave us a keyboard with lower case letters by default. When you tap the “up arrow” on the left, the keys change to upper case.  You can change the keyboard back to display upper case keys all the time by going to Settings > General > Accessibility. Scroll down to “Keyboard” and tap there. Under Software Keyboards it shows a button next to “Show Lowercase Keys. Tap it off to return to all caps all the time.
  • Button Shapes – Go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Scroll down to “Button Shapes” and click on the button there. If you look at the top of the screen as you tap it, you will see a grayed area appear behind the text “General.” The grayed area will now appear behind many of the text buttons throughout your OS. For instance in Calendar app the text buttons on the bottom of the screen “ Today”, “Calendars,” “Inbox” will now show that grey background behind them making them standout from the white background.
  • Larger Text – Just tweaking up the size of the text displayed on the iPhone can really make a big difference when taking a quick glance at Contacts, Mail or Messages or overall system text. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Accessibility. In the Accessibility screen scroll down to Larger Text and tap there. A new screen appears with a sliding button that scales up or down for size of text. It is set in the middle by default, but you can actually see the text on the screen above the slider grow larger as you move it to the right. I set mine just one “tick” to the right of middle. If you click on the Larger Accessibility Sizes, you’ll see even larger text settings.
  • New notes – The Notes app has always been great for jotting down your thoughts. And now it’s great for so much more. Want an easy way to make a checklist of to-dos? Consider it done. Or add a photo, map, or web link to a note. You can even draw a sketch with your finger. And thanks to iCloud, changes to your notes will be updated across all your devices and on iCloud.com.
  • Public transit in maps – Now you can use public transportation with Maps as your guide. In select cities around the world, a new Transit view shows you lines and stations for subways, buses, trains, and ferries right on the map. When you plan a route, every step of your trip is laid out from point A to point B.  Not yet available in Missouri.
  • Shortcuts in maps search to nearby places – with the Nearby feature, it’s easier to see what’s around you and decide on places to shop, eat, and more.
  • Low-power mode – Across the entire operating system, apps and key technologies have been made more efficient to trim battery usage wherever possible — so you get more battery life for the things you do every day. Thanks to ambient light and proximity sensors, your iPhone knows if it’s facedown on the table and prevents the screen from turning on, even when you receive a notification. The new Low Power mode lets you extend your battery life even further.settings battery – also see what apps are using your battery
  • News app – iOS 9 adds a new app to your Home screen. News puts all the stories you’re interested in, all in one place — so you don’t have to hunt through different apps and websites to make sure you’re not missing the next big story. Articles are pulled from a wide range of sources, from top news organizations to indie publications. Stories are chosen for you based on what you like to read, and the more you use News, the better it gets at picking out just what you’ll want to see
  • Wallet app replaces passbook – Use Apple Pay to securely and easily make purchases with your credit cards, now including Discover. You can even access Wallet by double-clicking the Home button when your iPhone is locked. Soon you’ll be able to use store credit cards, like Kohl’s Charge or JCPenney Credit Card. And you’ll be able to add rewards cards, like Dunkin’ Donuts DD Perks, Walgreens Balance Rewards, and MyPanera, to your Wallet app and receive and redeem rewards
  • New Wallet Features – Double-click from off to pay with wallet or choose a different card
  • New App navigation – Link back to where you came from with “back to”
  • iCloud drive application – The new iCloud Drive app built into iOS 9 allows you to access any file you save to iCloud from just one place — right on your Home screen. Easily search within the app and find the file you’re looking for. Browse all your files by date, name, or any tags you added on your Mac. You can also preview and organize your files without leaving the app.
  • Find my phone and find friends preinstalled
  • Set a reminder about what’s on the screen – Say remind me about this to Siri
  • New Siri preferences – Turn on hey Siri, Silence Siri, and have it learn your voice
  • Slide Over – Now you can open a second app without leaving the one you’re in. So you can quickly browse the web, respond to a text message, or jot something down in a note, then slide that app away and get back to the one you were using before. (iPad only)
  • Split View – With Split View, you can go a step further and have two apps open and active at the same time. Work on a sketch with the reference photo beside it. Or write a paper while copying citations from a book in iBooks. When everything you need is right in front of you, it’s easier to focusSearch inside settings (iPad 2, iPad Mini 4, and iPad Pro only)
  • Picture in Picture – While using FaceTime or watching a video, press the Home button and your video screen scales down to a corner of your display. Tap to open a second app, and your video continues to play — even while you use the other app. So keep watching your favorite TV show while you reply to the email that just came in. (iPad only)
  • Wi-Fi assist in settings cellular – Allows you to use Celular for data when Wi-Fi fails (Uses data from your celular plan)
  • Six digit passcode -Keeping your devices and Apple ID secure is essential to protecting your personal information — like photos, documents, messages, email, and so much more. iOS 9 advances security by strengthening the passcode that protects your devices
  • Quickly trash all mail – hit edit button to trash all
  • Add attachments in mail – Press and hold to add attachments from iCloud Drive.
  • Better upgrading process – iOS 9 does even more to efficiently stream new updates to your device without having to first download and unpack them — which means you don’t need as much free space to update
  • Disable shake to undo – in accessibility
  • Check Your battery in Notifications and Widgets – Pull down from the top of the screen
  • Pinch to zoom in video – When watching some supported video, you can now pinch to zoom in
  • New smart albums in Photos for selfies and screenshots
  • Directly select photos by gliding over with your finger
  • Hide photos in your photo library – Hide tyhose photos in your library you dont want others to see when they look at your device
  • Request safari desktop site and turn off content blockers on the fly – by pressing the reload icon.
  • Quicktype – Shape up your text in no time with an all-new Shortcut Bar, convenient editing tools, and a handy new way to select text with Multi-Touch gestures. And now when you use a wireless keyboard with your iPad, you can enjoy even more keyboard shortcuts. You can even use your on screen iPad keyboard as a mouse!
  • Safari Content Blockers – Safari content blocking extensions don’t automagically identify ads and prevent them from loading. Instead, they identify elements and resources on a web page and can, optionally, hide those elements and prevent those resources from loading. The goal is to show how fast the modern web—read: Safari—really is when you remove all the extraneous code that’s been dumped on top of it.
  • Find on the page in Safari – Safari has a Find in Page feature, although it’s a bit hidden. To perform a search for words on the current page, tap the address bar and type your search. Tap the Find option under On This Page at the bottom of the list to search the current page
  • Safari Reader Enhancements – Customize safari reader mode with color and font and Background

OS X El Capitan: Changes in the Spaces Functionality

Spaces has changed a bit in El Capitan.  Apple has a great help article that covers how it works in the new operating system version.  Here is what Apple has to say:

If your desktop becomes cluttered with open app windows, you can create additional desktops, called spaces, to organize the windows. When you work in a space, you see only the windows that are in that space.

You use Mission Control to show the Spaces bar, where thumbnails represent your spaces and apps you’re using in full screen or Split View.

The Spaces bar showing a desktop space, apps in full screen and Split View, and the Add button to create a space
Tip:   Make your spaces unique by assigning a different desktop picture to each one. Just assign System Preferences to all desktops (see the instructions below), then change the desktop picture in each space.

Create a space

  1. Enter Mission Control, then click the Add button  in the Spaces bar.

    You can create up to 16 spaces.

  2. When you’re done, click a space in the Spaces bar or a window in Mission Control.

Move between spaces

Do any of the following:

Swipe left or right with three fingers.

Press the Control key and the Right or Left arrow key.

Enter Mission Control, move the pointer to the top edge of the screen to show the Spaces bar, then click a space.

Move an app window from one space to another

Do any of the following:

Drag the window to the edge of the screen. After a moment, the window moves to the next space.

Place the pointer over the window’s title bar. Hold down the trackpad or mouse button, then press the Control key and the Right or Left arrow key.

From the space that has the window you want to move, enter Mission Control. Then drag the window up to the space you want to use.

If you drag the window onto an app in full screen, you can use the apps in Split View.

Assign apps to spaces

If you assign an app (or System Preferences) to a specific space, the app will always open in that space.

  1. Press and hold an app’s icon in the Dock.

    You may have to first open the app from Launchpad to see its icon in the Dock.

  2. From the shortcut menu that appears, choose Options, then one of the following:

    • All Desktops: The app opens in every space.

    • This Desktop: The app opens only in the current space. If you use the app full screen, it appears in its own space.

    • Desktop on Display [number]: The app opens in the current space on a specific display (if more than one display is available).

    • None: The app opens in whichever space you’re using at the time.

By default, when you switch to an app, the desktop automatically switches to a space that has open windows for the app. For example, if you create a new TextEdit document in Desktop 3, but TextEdit windows are already open in Desktop 2, your new document opens in Desktop 2. To change this setting, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Mission Control.

Delete a space

  1. Enter Mission Control, then move the pointer to the top edge of the screen to show the Spaces bar.

  2. Place the pointer over the space you want to delete, then click the delete button that appears.

    If the space contains open windows, they are moved to another space.

You can quickly stop using an app in full screen or Split View by moving the pointer over the thumbnail in the Space bar, then clicking the exit button that appears.

How can I download a YouTube Video?

Q: I’ve been searching all over the web to find a way to insert a youtube video into a keynote presentation, but with no luck so far. Keynote will accept videos I shot with my old iPhone, but I don’t see a way to save youtube videos, although I know it can be done. I also know they should be MP4 files, but I’ll get to that later.

A: Here is the way I have found to do it. First note to the YouTube video you want to download and save the URL to the clipboard.  Now Go to http://www.tubegrabber.net.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 1.02.46 PMInsert the URL in the download box and press download now.

Select either Low definition MP4 or High Definition MP4 as the format

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Press Start Download

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The video will be downloaded to your downloads folder.

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Adware – coming to a Mac near you

adware

As most of you know the consulting work that I do requires me to work on both Macintosh computers and Windows machines. For years one of the biggest difficulties I see with Windows  has been Adware. Wikipedia defines adware as:

… any software package which automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process. The functions may be designed to analyze which Internet sites the user visits and to present advertising pertinent to the types of goods or services featured there.

That’s pretty much exactly what it is. It’s not a virus. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else. Adware has the ability to hijack what you were doing on the Internet and send you information from or possibly even to a website different than what you were looking for. Adware can be subtle. It may send you to websites that are similar to what you were looking for but not exactly the same in an effort to get you to purchase things from a different vendor. It may take over your entire search function on your computer and never allow you to search sites that you want. In this case it only sends you to sites the adware developer wants you to see.

For years a large portion of the problems I see in Windows are related to adware. I always characterize it as software that has its friends. On Windows it’s very common for one Adware infection to lead to many more because the software itself goes out and downloads other adware or malware to install on your computer.

There are great tools in windows to remove much of this like Malwarebytes that allows you to remove much of this adware and clean your computer up. But typically an Adware infection is accompanied by many other problems on a Windows computer.

The purpose of all this background is to give you an idea of what Adware is. But the real news is that Mac users are now beginning to join the adware fold with their windows counterparts. In the last week, for the first time that I remember, I ran into a serious adware infection on a Macintosh computer. The person infected was a sophisticated long term Macintosh user who made the simple error of clicking okay to a pop that told them to update their flash player.

Just like on windows this infection was buried down deep into the operating system and difficult to find and remove. But fortunately like windows there is a utility out there that seems to do a good job in this particular case. After removing many parts of this by hand I ran across a product called Adwaremedic and after reading many Google reviews of it ran in to do the final cleanup on the machine. It seems to have done a great job but having only needed to use it once it’s hard to give it a golden recommendation yet.

The main thing to keep in mind for Mac users is they need to think about safe computing just as Windows users have had to do for years. Here are a few things to consider as you surf the web on your Macintosh:

  • Never respond to pop up windows. Always close them using the close button in the window dialogue rather than the cancel button on the window itself.
  • If your computer tells you something needs to be updated in a pop up window never do it there. If it’s flash player, go to Adobe’s website and download flash player from there. Never accept the help that a popup is trying to give you.
  • Be careful when installing applications that are downloaded from places you’re not familiar with. In Windows I found out the hard way that even a well respected site like CNET has massive amounts of malware in their download section.
  • Be careful installing free applications.  If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.20.39 AMApple has done a great job to keep us from having to deal with this for years.  New versions of Mac OS even prevent us from downloading applications outside of the App Store by default. But there still too many of those out there and typically that has to be turned off to be able to install software you need to use.

To me, it looks like more of these are going to start popping up on our Macs and continue to be a real problem on Windows. Practicing safe computing can keep your machine clean whether it’s a Windows computer or now even a Macintosh.

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.