As you’ve probably noticed by now, Microsoft is releasing two Windows 10 updates each year. The one that most of you probably have is v. 1809. It was released in September 2018.
The next is v. 1903 (Initially released for testing in March 2019). Before it’s rolled out for the general public, it is tested by a lot of people and when the company is satisfied that it works as advertised, it is released in it’s final version.
This update is called the May 2019 Update and is now being gradually rolled out. If the update is available in your region, it will not be installed automatically, but rather offered as an available “Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903” that you can choose to “Download and install now”. To update, go to Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update and check for new updates.
There was a discussion of data loss and prevention in October, 2017. Go to the October Archives to read these posts. I will edit them to bring them forward in time, since this is a subject that comes up again and again. Check back on this.
I’m sure you all have heard that people lose data. This could occur for a number of reasons:
- You are typing a document and accidentally hit the wrong key. Oops–you’ve erased the thing you have been working on.
- You go to start up your computer in the morning and you get a message such as “no boot device”. Oops–your hard drive is no longer being seen by the computer.
- You sit down at your computer one day and try to open a document. What you get instead is a notice that your document has been encrypted and you need to pay $500 to get the decryption key.
- You open your word processing program (or graphics editing program) and try to find your documents or pictures. You find that the directories are empty.
- You come home after being out to dinner and find that someone has broken into your house and your computer is missing.
- You have kids or grandkids visiting and they ask to use the computer. When you again sit down to do some work, you have absolutely no idea it’s your computer. Everything is changed and your stuff is nowhere to be found.
- You have kids, grandkids, siblings, etc. visit you and offer to “help” you with your computer because it’s “too slow”. So they work on it and “fix” it for you. Now nothing works.
- There is a storm, fire, flood, or other disaster that destroys your office.
Sound familiar? Yep–it can happen to you.
In the last post, I described what can happen to you when you least expect it. We will now examine some things you can do to prevent the loss of your data (whether it be important legal documents, recipes for your favorite wine, or pictures of your family).
Back up your data–your first line of defense
- A simple backup can consist of you copying your data to some form of external media. This can be a CD, DVD, flash drive, or USB hard drive. In the case of a USB hard drives, most come with a backup program already installed. The backup should be done on a regular basis. Oh, yes–remember that your backup needs to be stored somewhere other than next to your computer! An offsite storage is preferable.
- Once you have your data covered, you need to think about your system as a whole. Unless you have a system disk, in the case of a hard drive failure, you will not be able to reinstall Windows. Many computers nowadays have a provision to make system recovery DVD’s. You need to do that. But that will only guarantee you can put the system back to the way it was when it was new. Your programs and data are not covered here.
- Using a recovery DVD, reinstalling all your programs (apps in Win 10!), and restoring your backed up data will allow you to continue with life. But at a cost–time! This whole process takes a bit of time to do it right. Measured in hours.
- A system image is a really good tool. It is a “picture” of your hard drive as it is now. The operating system, the programs, and the data. If you have a recent system image and you experience a hard drive failure, all you need to do is replace the drive, run the recovery program which restores the system image and you’re good to go. Simple.
Now you know what can happen. You also have an idea of what to do. But what do you need to do the job?
- A backup device. Use a flash drive (careful–these are easy to lose) large enough to hold your data.
- A backup program. As previously stated, if you buy an external USB hard drive (at least 1T in size), it should have a backup program on it. You will need to install that program on your computer. If you don’t want to use the program they provide, there are any number of programs out there–both free and paid versions–that will do the job.
- An imaging program. This is the program that is capable of making a system image and then restoring it to a hard drive. We use Acronis True Image in our business.
- A cloud backup solution. This is also a good idea if you have data you need to access even in the event of some type of disaster. Online data is usually available from any device using your logon credentials. We use Carbonite here. We are also Carbonite resellers for those of you wishing to buy it through us.
- Lacking a cloud backup, you need a place to store your data once it’s backed up. If you have a business office, store the data at home. If you have a home office, you could possibly store the data in a safe deposit box. Possibly a fireproof safe. Or maybe in a relative’s home. Anywhere but next to your computer!
Need help with all of this? Give us a call.
Now that you have read my recommendations for keeping your data save, you need to be aware of what can go wrong. Otherwise you will be calling me and asking why you weren’t warned!
- When backing up your stuff, it is best to disconnect the backup device when you are not actually using it. Should you become infected by a ransomware program, it will affect all connected devices. It will, therefore, corrupt your backup if it can get to it.
- If burning a CD or DVD, be sure to verify the process. Also, with any backup system, occasionally look at the backup and see if the computer is actually backing up your data. It does you absolutely no good to tell me you have your data backed up and when I go to look for it I find that your backups have not actually been working!
- Remember to store CD’s, DVD’s, and flash drives in a save place. Don’t lay them in the sun or put them somewhere where they will be subject to extremes in temperature.
- If using a cloud backup system, ask the company how many backups they store. For instance, in the case of ransomware, the corrupt files will be backed up to the cloud and will be useless. If the company has several offline backups (Carbonite assures me that this is how they operate) then they can put one of good copies online for you to restore your data.
Many folks have been using hotmail.com, msn.com, and live.com accounts for a while now. Microsoft has been directing all these users to outlook.com and they log on there. There are several problems with this service.
When you set up these accounts, it’s with the understanding the account is free and you will have very limited access to tech support. Every so often I am called by a client who has tried to log onto a Microsoft mail account only to get the message that there might be someone else using the account and you need to confirm that you are the owner. If you have not provided for this eventuality, you are going to be in trouble.
Everyone who sets up one of these accounts needs to have an alternate email address. There is a place to list that alternate address when you set up your Microsoft account. If there is any requirement to confirm that you are the account holder, the confirmation link or code will be sent to your alternate email. If you don’t have an alternate email, you will have to answer a lot of security questions and most people have a problem doing this.
So–what do you use for your alternate email? If you are a Centurylink customer, you have a Centurylink email account. Same goes for Comast. You may just have to go to their site and set it up. You also have the option of setting up a Gmail account to use for that purpose.
We all get it: Unwanted mail. Sometimes it comes from friends who seem to be cleaning out their inboxes, but mostly it comes from someone we’ve never heard of.
What everyone wants to know is—how do you stop it? Well, it’s probably a futile effort to try. Spam will be there forever. You just need to manage it. There are several ways of doing this, which I’ll explain below:
- Ignore it. Just delete the unwanted messages. You need a high tolerance for junk.
- If you have an internet security program that allows you to flag messages as spam, do so. Let the program automatically detect it. Depending on your program, the spam/junk will automatically be directed to a junk folder or simply deleted.
- Create message filters. Each email program will allow you to filter messages (we can’t tell you how each program does it in this limited space). Basically, you tell the program to look at each message to see if it contains a certain address, subject, word, etc. You can then have the program automatically throw those messages in the trash.
- Install a message filtering program (we link to one on our “Products” page). These programs are referred to as challenge/response programs. They send a challenge to unknown senders requiring a response. You get the response and can either allow the messages or senders or blacklist them. If the mail was sent by a machine (a robot), then it can’t answer the challenge and the mail is trashed after several days. This drops your spam messages down to a very small number. It does require a little configuration to work properly, though.
- And how about those mails you get from your brother who insists that you read everything he thinks is funny? I suggest a message filter. Tell your email program that if it sees his address in the “from” field, move the mail to a folder you set up with his name on it. This way you won’t be totally ignoring him. You can go to his folder when you get time to see if there is anything important.