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Tuesday
May172011

Making a Reliable Backup

Time and time again I work on computers that have crashed, or in worse cases, the hard drive is dying. Most of the time the first thing people ask is, “can you get my data back?” Sometimes I can but if the hard drive is damaged the only option may be to send the drive to a data recovery company and that can be very costly. A fairly simple way to avoid ever having to worry about your data is to have a good backup in place. To create a real backup your files must exist in at least two places, or it's not a backup—and your data is at risk.

For the first backup location you can have a portable hard drive locally that you backup at least your important files to. For this Windows 7 and Vista have a built in backup and restore application in the control panel that works fine for basic backup. A good alternative is the free version of SyncBack. With SyncBack you can easily schedule backups to your external storage device. SyncBack download

For your second backup a paid for online backup service like Carbonite is the easiest solution. With Carbonite you pay $60 a year for unlimited storage space. Just install their software and tell it what to backup. Carbonite’s software will watch the folders you listed for changes and update your offsite backup whenever you are connected to the internet. The downside to this is if you don’t have a very fast internet connection, and you have a lot of data, it can take a long time to get all of your data back. The upside is they handle keeping your data safe and if you have a disaster like a flood or fire your data is still safe. Another plus to using Carbonite is they give you access to all you files over the internet from any computer and most smart phone. Link to Carbonite

  

If you have your data backed up locally and remotely you have a true backup. Having only a local backup is better than nothing but your backup hard drive will fail at some point. If you have data that is valuable to you I highly recommend having a backup that exists in at leased two locations. It isn't that expensive and once you have it setup, your backup will be kept up-to date automatically.

Wednesday
May112011

Importance of Having Strong Passwords

With computers and the internet today chances are you have quite a few passwords to remember. Most users use the same password in multiple places and use the same pattern if they have create multiple passwords.

Roger Grimes writes at InfoWorld how easily the majority of users passwords can be guessed and that these days passwords need to be longer than the typical 6-8 characters.

"Most professional password guessers know there is a 50 percent chance that a user's password will contain one or more vowels. If it contains a number, it will usually be a 1 or a 2, and it will be at the end. If it contains a capital letter, it will be at the beginning, followed by a vowel. The average person has a working vocabulary of 50,000 to 150,000 words, and they are likely to be used in the password. Women are famous for using personal names in their passwords, and men opt for their hobbies. "Tigergolf" is not as unique as CEOs think. Even if you use a symbol, an attacker knows which are most likely to appear: ~, !, @, #, $, %, &, and ?."

If you haven't already you should consider lengthening your passwords to more than eight characters especially on login information for your bank etc. The most secure thing to do is use a random password generator like the one built into LastPass. I use LastPass to remember my passwords and sometimes to generate passwords for the best security. LastPass has plugins for all the popular prowsers and you can login to your account from any web browser and look up a password.

I recomend using LastPass to make managing all your login information easy and secure. Just make sure to setup LastPass with a secure password you can remember.

For a local non cloud based solution try KeePass.