Friday, February 6, 2015

New Year, Clean Slate

Feeling like you'd like a fresh start with your technology in the new year?  Here are some clean up tips and other things to consider for your life with technology.

Clean up Your PC - download & use these tools
CCleaner - to clean out the junk on your PC
DeCrapifier - to remove bloatware that might have been pre-loaded on your PC
SyncToy - to create backups easily to/from your PC or any flash drive
DriverMax - to update all of the drivers on your PC

Some of these are totally free, some have a nominal charge beyond a trial period, but all of them are worth using periodically to maintain the performance of your PC.

Organize Your Digital Photos
Organize your folders for photos by year, month and event, such as 201412 Xmas, 201404 Spring, etc. so that you can easily find the images you need.  Don't leave all of your digital images on the memory card unless you're actively going to use that card to print them at the local WalMart or whatever.  You need to copy them onto a PC or into the cloud - it is WAY too easy to lose those tiny memory cards and without a backup somewhere, you are screwed!!

Back up Your PC
You can use an external hard drive or flash drive, depending on the amount of data you have.  Tools like SyncToy or Ghost can create backups of selected files or of your entire computer.  It's definitely a good idea to have an image copy of your entire PC, just in case your hard drive dies completely.  Be sure to include backups of your photos, which may require a large amount of space.  You should store your backup drive in a safe place away from your PC if possible.  Ideally, keep it  in a fireproof safe in a different room of your house, so then you're likely to actually be able to recover from a fire or flood.  If you keep your backup and your PC together all of the time, you greatly increase the chances that if a catastrophic event occurs, you'll lose both.

Use a Password Manager
I can't stress it enough - you need to use different passwords on all of your most frequently visited websites, especially any that have your credit card details, your financial information or other sensitive personal information!  I know that is a LOT of passwords to remember, but password manager software is the key to keeping your sanity.  I recommend RoboForm, which is low cost, easy to use and has several useful features.

Turn on Your Router's WPA2 Password
Keep the bad guys out of your wifi network so they can't steal your data or your bandwidth.  Check your router's documentation to find out how to login to the admin function and set this up, and do it now.

Use Firewall and Virus Protection
Everyone should already know about these, but I would be remiss not to include them.  If you don't already use both a firewall and a virus protection software package, get them and start using them right away.  You are just asking for your identity to be stolen or for your PC to be compromised without these tools.

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